VI. The Responsive Campus

6.2 Library and Information Technology Facilities

We must provide a state-of-the-art infrastructure for learning, research, and creative work. The historical character of Amherst’s campus should be preserved, but our ability to recruit and retain first-rate students, faculty, and staff will erode if we fail to establish a dynamic environment to support new technologies and disciplinary interconnections.

The re-visioning of how the Library and the Information Technology Department support the information resources of Amherst College may require substantial reconfiguring and/or expansion of existing physical facilities. The Library Planning Group believes that there is a broad consensus on campus that Frost Library in its current form under-serves the academic community; their preliminary report (December 2005) outlines exciting possibilities. Similarly, wireless, podcasting, Internet 2, computational clusters, digital video on demand, and other technologies are now expanding on campus. The College will need to upgrade facilities as well as the skills of the Library and IT staff to support these services. Current resources, such as cable TV, DVD borrowing, and data sharing, may be delivered in new ways.

Thus, the development of additional library and information technology facilities should be carefully studied. Much is at stake, since these spaces shape the ways that students gather and interact among themselves and encounter faculty. The first-year quad presents one effective way of helping a sense of community to form; the potential for creating thriving environments for intellectual activity outside the classroom presents another. The information commons and the town common are centuries apart as sites of civic interaction, but both should be parts of the experience of Amherst students as they prepare for citizenship in the world.