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The Korea University Library is transformed into a cultural comp...
  • Writer : KU Today
  • Hits : 549
  • Date : 2019-02-20

The Korea University Library is transformed into a cultural complex for creativity - Professor Kim Seongcheol (School of Media and Communication), Director of the Korea University Library


Many students these days prefer going to cafes rather than libraries. They need spaces where they can take breaks and talk from time to time, rather than sitting in silent concentration for hours on end. Thus for a library to regain its glory, a paradigm shift must be made. To this end, the Korea University Library has expanded into a creative and free cultural complex. With the values of sympathy, openness, and co-existence at its core, the library has become a model for future libraries as data-centric, archive theme parks.

CCL: the world’s first creator library

For a long period of time, Libraries have long been places of required silence. Students have visited libraries to study hard for school, prepare for employment, and cram for state exams with the mindset of soldiers going into battle. However, libraries today have to break away from their spatial stereotype. Just as predicted by futurologist Alvin Toffler, the era of “prosumers” has arrived. Now just like other consumers, students do not merely take in knowledge, but also create it. As a natural consequence, libraries have had to build upon their traditional function to become spaces where students are free to carry out their activities. Agreeing with President Jaeho Yeom’s view that a library is not the same as a reading room, Professor Kim Seongcheol, Director of the Korea University Library, decided to revolutionize the library. The result was the opening of the CJ Creator Library (CCL) in the Central Plaza of Korea University’s Seoul Campus in May 2017. Based on the concept of an “archive theme park” or a learning park where students can learn, engage in discussions, and create multi-media contents as well as play, eat and rest, the CCL was created as a departure from existing concepts of what a library can be.

“The CCL is a complex cultural facility serving as a space of media-based venture incubation and creativity, and a place where students can learn and relax at the same time. The CCL provides five studio rooms where media output can be produced; stages where performances and academic events can be held; Marushimto, a study-and-rest area where students can lie down; and study rooms whose size can be adjusted according to students’ needs.

As introduced by Director Kim, the CCL is the result of an effort to change the very paradigm of libraries, and shows the work dedicated to space reconfiguration. When building the Central Plaza in 2002, a space of 2,479m2 was offered as reading rooms to meet students’ needs, and a part of that space was newly renovated. Many students expressed their dissatisfaction with the proposed changes, but Director Kim worked on persuading students as to the value of the project, with the hope that the space could symbolize the library of the future. After regular meetings and much discussion, the vision finally came to fruition with the establishment of the KU SOC@Library Project in 2016. The project is based on the principles of sympathy, openness, and co-existence, following the mandate of the Three-No’s Policy introduced by President Yeom.

Changes attempted based A transformation based on the principles of sympathy, openness and co-existence

“Sympathy, the first principle of the KU SOC@Library Project, expresses the will to respond to students’ needs. Based on this principle, resting spaces are offered for students to burn the midnight oil at 24-hour reading rooms, and some spaces are provided as creators’ places and adjustable study rooms where creativity and collaboration are encouraged. To accommodate the reduction of reading room areas, March 2017 to May 2018 saw the construction of a new study space called the CDL Floor was built on the first floor of Centennial Digital Library (CDL) building. The CLD Floor’s C-Lounge provides a space for cooperative work, discussion, and relaxation, while the D-Lounge is for large group learning, and the L-Lounge offers a multipurpose space for learning and cultural activities.

The second principle of the KU SOC@Library Project is openness. This principle is represented in a policy of engagement, which means that Korea University’s libraries will be open not only to Korea University students but also to students from other universities and to the local community., In this spirit of the traveling library, Korea University Library operates ten Open Libraries on the campus that are open to everyone with unlimited access. Thus any visitor to Korea University can use the Open Libraries any day of the week to read books and enjoy cultural life (for more information about Open Library, please see:

https://library.korea.ac.kr/link/html/useSubjectLibrary03). Korea University also signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate with Yonsei University on the joint use of academic resources and ICT research, enabling faculty and students from both universities to share academic resources and infrastructure. Projects aimed at mutual cooperation with other universities in Seoul are also in the pipeline.

Lastly, co-existence refers to the policy of bridging the past and the future through one space. The Korea University Library aims to create areas where the analog and the digital can intertwine and where the school’s diverse communities and functions can intermingle. To this end, the Korea University Library has been fundraising* to support the transformation of the Main Library into a unique preservation area for intellectual heritage. The goal is to connect the Main Library and Haesong Law Library to establish a state-of-the-art digital information library.

Leading the world with a data-centric library

In addition to spatial renovations, Korea University Library has also been developing a data curation project with elements of the fourth industrial revolution at its core. Director Kim explains that whereas energy was at the center of the third industrial revolution, big data will be the most important component of the fourth industrial revolution, and that in order for a library where all kinds of data is accumulated and managed to become the best infrastructure, experts must collect, analyze and store optimal data and provide optimal data curation services for users.

The keywords for creating a data-centric library are “data” and its “connectivity” with users. Korea University Library supports research and education, and plays a role in connecting data and data users, with the focus on providing data to not only selected people, hoping that we could improve more people’s lives” says Director Kim.

Director Kim is confident that Korea University Library is at the forefront of spatial usage, systems, and user services. The Korea University Library launched in September 2017 a new mobile library service application called KLIB, and was the first university library to introduce a Kakao Talk application-based notification service. It also runs a self-developed scholarly information system called Scholarly Information Curation Service (SICS), which gathers expert research materials scattered online on a real-time basis, and then processes and provides them according to topics and areas of study. SICS was originally offered in four study areas – media and communication, law, psychology and computer science, but now the service has been expanded to the areas of economics, pedagogy, linguistics and political science and diplomacy. Acclaimed as the first application of digital curation to an online scholarly information system, the SICS project received the 2018 Karl Lo Award from the Pacific Rim Research Libraries Alliance (PRRLA) and the Medal of the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism in the 12th Contest for Papers and Best Case Studies on Library Innovation from the National Library of Korea.

Students’ response to the library’s transformation has been one of enthusiasm. The 2018 University Library User Satisfaction Survey on Korea University Library yielded a score of 83 out of 100, an increase of 2 points since 2017. The Korea University Library has proposed a vision for libraries and endeavors to provide optimal services. It is expected that all Korea University students will take full advantage of the library functions and services and on their journey to becoming pioneering intellectuals.

Positive reviews about changes at CCL

▲Baek Songi (School of Media and Communication, ‘16)(left), Kim Bomin (Department of Public Administration, ‘15)(right)

As a Media and Communications major, I often have to shoot videos or record sound. Before CCL opened it was a lot of work to find a suitable site and rent all the equipment I needed. The biggest advantage of using CCL is that anybody can easily rent a space and equipment. At first CCL didn’t seem like a library, but no, it has become such a comfortable learning space that I don’t look for cafes anymore. 


Baek Songi 

(School of Media and Communication, ‘16)

I want to talk about the event hall at CCL! Students can rent the space anytime for their own activities, and so the hall has busking performances or other concerts three to four times a month. There are also academic seminars, presentations, lectures, and open debates by debate clubs there. I hope that more and more students will check out this cultural space that’s open to anyone.


Kim Bomin

(Department of Public Administration, ‘15,)

*Fundraising campaign for the Library Development Fund
The Korea University Library is currently operating four fundraising campaigns. In addition to the Digital Library Development Fund and the Library Development Fund, the “Depository Library Development Fund” aims to renovate the Main Library to specialize in preservation and conservation whereas the “1905-1937 Project” is raising funds for the Repository Library.


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