Strategies for university
academic information and service
Eric J. Wainwright
eKnowledge Structures, Hall, Australia
Purpose – To review issues affecting the current development of university academic information
and learning services, and to suggest strategies through which beneﬁts for students and staff might be
Design/methodology/approach – Recent literature on university services is reviewed in
conjunction with the author’s considerable experience in Australian university and research libraries.
Findings – Concludes that advances in technology impacting on information services delivery,
changes to university pedagogies, and recent research relating to the impact of university spatial
design on learning all suggest that universities need to review their overall strategies for the effective
delivery of information support for teaching, learning and research.
Practical implications – University support services planners, and in particular those responsible
for university library and information services, need to take a broader view of developments impacting
on student learning and information support for research.
Originality/value – This paper brings together a wider variety of recent discussions in a format
convenient for those faced with the design and management of university academic information and
learning support services.
Keywords University libraries, Information services, Learning, Australia
Paper type Viewpoint
Over recent years, there has been an increasing volume of writings focusing on the
“future of libraries and librarians” (for three of the most thoughtful works, see Sack,
1986; Buckland, 1989; Crowley, 2001). Apocalyptic visions regarding the library’s
impeding demise have abounded for some decades – after all, it is now 26 years since
Lancaster’s (1978) classic article “Whither libraries? Or wither libraries” questioned the
future of libraries in the face of electronic networking developments.
Since that time, most university librarians, certainly in Australia, would claim that
they have adapted well to the pressures of the electronic age, even that they have led
their universities in the change process. However, as late as 2001, Carlson’s (2001) “The
deserted library” article in the Chronicle of Higher Education was still able to cause
some consternation among both university administrators and librarians, in his picture
of empty seats and stacks, and declining loan and library entry counts, in most US
academic libraries. While no conclusive data are available for libraries across
Australia, anecdotal evidence suggests that most university libraries have experienced
The Emerald Research Register for this journal is available at The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
This is an edited version of a paper delivered to the Australian Library and Information
Association Biennial Conference, Gold Coast, September 2004.
Received 27 January 2005
Revised 20 March 2005
Accepted 20 April 2005
Vol. 26 No. 8/9, 2005
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited