Lynn University’s new library director sees libraries evolving to meet the needs of public

Integration of technology and quick delivery of content seen as key to success

Published Oct. 02, 2013

Amy FiliatreauAfter a national search, Lynn University recently hired Amy Filiatreau as the new director of the Eugene M. and Christine E. Lynn Library to oversee its continued evolution as it integrates new technologies to ensure it is a valuable resource for students and faculty.

“The library is not just a place to come and study,” Filiatreau said. “The library isn’t even that much about books anymore. The library is about access to information, and it’s about librarians educating the Lynn community about how to find that information.”

Under Filiatreau, the library will focus on providing students, faculty and staff with the tools they need to find reliable information, help them do complex research, ensure they know how to use information in a physical and virtual classroom and bridge “the gap between simply Googling something and developing clear and concise research techniques.”

“We need radical change in higher education and in libraries,” Filiatreau said. “Lynn is embracing that change, and so is Lynn’s library.”

She has identified some immediate changes that can expand the services the library offers to the community. Her team will work to improve the library’s website and catalog, reorganize the physical layout of the library and increase the amount of outreach and education. These efforts are among a comprehensive program that will support the university’s core mission by aligning the library’s operations with Lynn’s innovative approach to teaching and focus on integrating technology into the students’ experience.

“The library will be committed to providing information in whatever format students and faculty need it, quickly and seamlessly,” Filiatreau said. “We will seek to partner with faculty to help ensure that all Lynn graduates will be savvy users of information technology and intrepid researchers when they leave us.”

Technology and libraries

“Libraries have changed more in the past 25 years than they did in the preceding 500 years,” Filiatreau said. “Because of the rapid technological advancements, our customers now expect information instantly, and we have to try to meet that expectation, whether they are on campus or across the globe.”

Libraries are facing a crisis similar to what all of higher education is facing—technology is creating rapid change, yet in too many cases, according to Filiatreau, universities and libraries are still operating under old models.

She sees this evolution causing major changes to the typical library in the next few years. According to Filiatreau, there will be fewer books and PC workstations but more charging stations (for the devices people will bring with them that will replace the PCs). She also sees more group study rooms, more flexible work spaces and movable seating and more flat screens and whiteboards—all of these changes are meant to enhance collaborative work. She also sees teaching spaces where librarians can interact directly with students. However, she also sees the continued need for traditional quiet study space because “there’s never enough quiet space on a college campus.”

Moving into the next few decades, Filiatreau sees a complete evolution of the library into something we may not recognize today.

“I believe libraries will be completely different, Filiatreau said. “They’ll be incubators for innovation and learning. They may not even be one building—maybe there’s a library space in each dorm and in the classroom building. Librarians will not be in one place, but will be virtual, in online classes, as well as roaming around campus to help students and faculty where they are.”

information gathering

Filiatreau sees another challenge from the rapid advance in communications technologies. The internet and mobile devices have allowed for unprecedented access to information. However, although people do have better access, the sheer volume often causes them to take shallow dives into source material.  She sees one of librarians’ new missions as helping train the generation of researchers that have grown up in this age in how to take deeper looks at information to help them make more thorough connections.

For example, since students have grown up using Google, they think they know how to find information. And they do, to some extent. But trying to find reliable, scholarly information about controversial or disputed topics—abortion rights, gun control, environmental issues—isn’t as easy as just looking it up on Google. Students need deep knowledge of where to go and what to trust online, and that’s where, according to Filiatreau, librarians can help.

“Increasingly, people dip in and out of information,” Filiatreau said. “Even when doing scholarly research, they often don’t read whole articles or books. We have to make sure they know when to dive in deeper, when it is important to really explore something.”

More on Filiatreau

Amy Filiatreau is the director of the Eugene M. and Christine E. Lynn Library. Prior to her position at Lynn, she was the director of the University Library at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, as well as archivist, researcher and has given dozens of presentations on various issues related to library management. She has also attended several professional development programs including the Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians at Harvard University. She holds a M.A. in Library and Information Science from the University of Texas, Austin, and a Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology and Archaeology from the University of Chicago.

She can discuss how rapidly advancing information technology and mobile computing is affecting libraries, how libraries can adapt and what the future looks like. She can also address how the current generation of students consume media and information and ways they can improve their research skills.