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Universities redesign libraries for the 21st century: fewer books, more space

UC Berkeley’s newly remodeled undergraduate library is modern and sleek, with its top two floors featuring low-slung couches, a futuristic nap pod, and meeting spaces with glass walls made to be written on and colorful furniture meant to be moved.

The library has even dropped its rules against bringing in food and drinks on those floors. That’s because they no longer contain any books, which could be damaged or stained.

California’s oldest public university has removed 135,000 books from Moffitt Library, shipping most to other locations, to create more space for students to study, recharge and collaborate on group projects — a staple of college work today.

Libraries are 4,000 years old, but the digital revolution is dramatically changing their use on college campuses. From coast to coast, UC Berkeley to Harvard University, libraries are removing rows of steel shelving, stashing the books they held in other campus locations and discarding duplicates to make way for open study spaces. Their budgets are shifting away from print, to digital materials.

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