Libraries without walls is one of the buzz expressions in contemporary library discussion. The phrase surfaces in articles dealing with every type of library, from school to academic, from corporate to public, as writers try to describe the fundamental changes influencing the role of libraries in our society. Without walls symbolizes a fundamental paradigm shift from the traditional library of print materials to the electronic library of the "global village."
We have chosen a slightly different phrase to represent the future direction of James White Library. The expression Beyond walls is meant to recognize that some things will not change during the next decade or two. It affirms that traditional forms of recorded knowledge (the print media) will continue into the 21st century. It sees a long life ahead for the printed book. It affirms that we will continue to need walls. James White Library will continue to be a "place", a building providing space for collections, for growth, for offices, for study and research.
Beyond walls recognizes these realities. We will continue to need walls. But it also focuses on the fundamental paradigm shift driven by electronic information technology, shaping a future of novel dimensions. It acknowledges that our library will never be the same again.
Walls suggest a preoccupation with the old and the familiar. Beyond walls suggests an exploration of the unknown, a breakaway from old paradigms and an exploration of new ones. Walls symbolize ownership and protection of contents. Beyond walls switches the emphasis from ownership to access.
Walls describe boundaries and suggest fear and distrust of whatever is outside. Beyond walls signifies an openness to ideas and innovation.
Walls imply barriers to communication and understanding. Beyond walls suggests communication, sharing, networking.
Walls create a compartment mentality. Beyond walls fosters teamwork and cooperation.
Walls narrow our focus. Beyond walls enlarges our vision.
Beyond Walls is the chosen theme of James White Library's 1994 strategic plan, pointing us towards the 21st century.