Project 3: Van Pelt’s Future

Built in 1962, Van Pelt Library has a collection of more than 2 million volumes and serves nearly a million visitors annually. With a gross area of 230,000 square feet it is the largest of the 15 university libraries. The Penn Libraries are the 23rd largest system in the country, with 6.5 million volumes, 3 million digital images and 37,000 videos. Each year they complete over 50 million loans and transactions. But the libraries are in the midst of radical change.

In this project you’ll work in teams (with help from Penn Libraries’ data group) and use data to visually explore the changing role of the libraries. How has what is offered changed and how have users’ expectations changed? Are libraries still useful? How does the library demonstrate continued relevance? How have users’ engagement evolved regarding subjects, services, formats, media, space, or other factors? What are the trends and what do they mean for the future of the libraries?

Collaborators: Joe Zucca and Andy Sarno (, Strategic Initiatives, Penn Library Technology Services; Vickie Karasic, Managing Librarian for the Weigle Information Commons 

Readings for March 14
These are very brief fragments (web pages, magazine articles) to get started. They begin to identify issues but are not detailed or complex.

What Will Become of the Library? Slate

Why Do Students Really Go to the Library? Gensler

Future of the Academic Library, Gensler

The Year in Numbers, Penn Library

Forecasting the Future of Libraries, American Library Association Magazine

Future Libraries-Executive Summary-MIT

Project 3 Data: from Penn Libraries in Course Folder > Public > Project 3
(example below, feel free to supplement)