The academic library: Structure, space, physical and virtual use

Snunith Shoham, Liat Klain-Gabbay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This mixed-methods study aims to characterize the appropriate structure of the academic library in the information age according to the perceptions of the faculty members who use the library and the academic librarians operating it. Two main issues were addressed: centralization versus decentralization, and the provision of physical versus virtual services. The study population included members of the faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences in three academic institutions in Israel and academic librarians working in these institutions. Qualitative data was collected through interviews with 20 faculty members and 15 librarians, while quantitative data was collected through questionnaires filled by 191 faculty members and 50 librarians in the above-mentioned institutions. Analysis of these data reveal that faculty members generally prefer a concentration of materials—rather than decentralization—and they show a similar preference toward a faculty library model, a combined faculty/departmental library model, and a central library model. Similarly, the academic librarians prefer either faculty or combined faculty/department libraries, but their preference toward a central library model is lower than that of the faculty members. The decentralized, departmental library model was the least favored by both groups. In addition, our findings indicate that both the faculty members and the librarians appreciate the virtual services that the library provides as well as its physical presence, although fewer faculty members than librarians perceived the latter as an important role of the library. Taken together it appears that the preferred model for the academic library in the information age is of large, multidisciplinary libraries that contain materials from a variety of fields and provide comprehensive virtual services.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102053
JournalJournal of Academic Librarianship
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019


  • Academic libraries
  • Branch libraries
  • Central library
  • Departmental library
  • Division libraries
  • Faculty library
  • The library as a place
  • Virtual library


Dive into the research topics of 'The academic library: Structure, space, physical and virtual use'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this