One Big Question: Sohair Wastawy

Sohair Wastawy

Q. How are libraries evolving in the 21st century?

Today, in the age of technology, libraries are assuming new roles that differ from their traditional past as knowledge repositories; they are becoming more inclusive, hybrid learning organizations.

When we speak of the future of the academic library, we cannot consider it apart from its parent organization, the university. In this digital world, universities are becoming more global entities. Today, we are engaged in conversations about online learning, eScience, digital humanities, geospatial thinking, interdisciplinary research and big data, just to mention a few. This is not only challenging the academy but also challenging and changing the library profoundly.

There is no doubt that libraries will continue to provide new resources to their users, but I believe that library services will change and evolve like the academy. Librarians will be offering deeper research assistance and becoming faculty research partners; they will interact with students at progressive levels of value-added functionality ranging from metadata harvesting to using visualization tools to deepen experience and understanding. They will provide assurance of authenticity and persistence of digital data and preserve the scholarship heritage of print and its digital surrogates.

The 21st century library space will undergo a radical change. Students no longer need just a table and chair to do their work. Collaborative workspaces, interactive technologies and artistic exhibits are all parts of the learning process and the evolution of libraries.

At Florida Tech, the library is deeply woven into the fabric of learning and discovery and has been moving toward becoming the digital scholarship lab and the scholar’s partner in research. Working at the nexus of disciplines and across boundaries, the Evans Library will have the flexibility, expertise and organizational capacity needed to support our students and faculty and will play a central role in the university’s quest for distinction and drive for excellence.

Sohair Wastawy joined Florida Tech as dean of libraries in October 2013. She leads Evans Library in its mission of supporting the needs of Florida Tech, including providing vision and direction as the library evolves to support research, learning and teaching in the 21st century. Her previous posts include professor and dean of university libraries at Illinois State University and chief librarian for the New Library of Alexandria, Egypt. She earned her doctoral degree in library and information management from Simmons College in Boston, Mass.

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