The Academic Library: Cowpath or Path to the Future?

Verlene (Vee) Herrington


This paper relates the traditional academic library to the expression, âdonât pave the cowpathâ. Originating in the IT world, this expression means to not integrate technology into an established practice without assessing whether the process is still effective or still needed. Even though sustaining technologies have simplified information retrieval and library tasks, library organizational structure and processes remain pretty much unchanged. This article discusses the cowpath that academic libraries have followed for decades and the challenges disruptive technologies pose to the traditional model. It looks at how one academic library rejected tradition, got off the cowpath and created a different kind of academic libraryâone that is innovative and fits the mission of an experimental new college.



academic libraries; traditional library; disruptive innovation theory; library technology; community colleges

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ISSN: 1947-525X