Walking into Regenstein Library is a distinctly different experience these days. Light, space, glass, and dramatic sightlines now greet all who enter. The changes are not only aesthetic. They also reflect the need to put reference services and collections and the patterns of use associated with them into a new context. The Library has been introducing digital resources into reference services and collections for several years without systematically re-aligning print collections with them. This summer, the Reference and Information Services Department of the Joseph Regenstein Library undertook a re-organization of its collections and services.
Developed in coordination with master planning for the reconfiguration of Regenstein as a whole, the project was the result of over a year of staff planning culminating in a strategic plan for reference services development. The current re-organization is one step in this development process. The principal goals of the re-organization were to better support the integrated use of print and electronic resources, to rationalize the arrangement of the reference collections, and to provide suitable and amenable spatial layouts which allow for the use of and assistance with reference resources in all formats.
Library staff recognized that the division of reference sources into at least six different call number sequences was complex, even idiosyncratic, making finding materials very difficult. Streamlining the physical arrangement of the reference collections was important because the increasing presence of reference sources in electronic form does not rule out the continuation of resources in print. However, at the same time, the Library's ability to store, logically arrange, and make accessible a large body of print sources on the first floor remains heavily space-dependent. The Library planned carefully to make the best use of the available space, and to re-arrange the reference materials into four principal concentrations: 1) ready reference; 2) US government documents and indexes; 3) the general reference collections; 4) core index and abstracting sources.
As well, the Library undertook another symbolic, as well as physical, alteration. Since the Regenstein Library opened in 1970, the most prominent feature of the first floor has been the large General Card Catalog. As catalog records continue to be converted to electronic form, and as Library users rely increasingly on electronic indexing and full-text delivery of research information in general, the card catalog, as a physical manifestation of a different kind of information technology, assumes a different position, literally and figuratively, in the information services of the Library. The catalog remains on the first floor, but the space it used to occupy, in the center, has been given over to a combination of book shelving, seating for readers, and computer workstations. These are, each in their own way, and all in combination, indicative of the hybrid and dynamic character of current information technology and uses we provide and support.