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“I define postmodern as incredulity toward meta-narratives” Jean-François Lyotard (1979)

Now over 30 years old the above quote by Jean-François Lyotard is part of a longer work in which he, to a great extent, defined the great cultural condition of our times; post modernism.

If postmodernism is about incredulity towards meta-narratives or incredulity towards accepted truths then what does this mean in the context of an academic library? It partly involves a rejection or at least re-imagining of what is considered as an academic library both externally and internally. One way in which this re-imagining is manifested is through the growth of Learning Spaces. These spaces take the once highly structured and didactic space of the library and take it into new and less controlled parts of campuses.

Inflatable learning pod inside learning centre at Glasgow Caledonian University

Inflatable Pod Glasgow Caledonian University

Learning Spaces are typically more social, less didactic and more ad hoc than the more traditional forms of academic library. They do not replace central HE library but rather reach out to the rest of the university and take those parts of libraries which can operate with less control. Group study, debating space, presentation rehearsal space or just casual conversational space are all catered for through these new spaces.

These developments in HE libraries are in essence the development of libraries without walls.

Reference

Jean-Francois Lyotard (1979) La Condition postmoderne: Rapport sur le savoir. Paris: Éditions de Minuit.

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