Date of Award

Fall 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership

Committee Director

Dennis E. Gregory

Committee Member

Monica Esqueda

Committee Member

Jay P. Scribner


“The library is the heart of the university” is an oft-repeated metaphor used to describe the role or centrality of the library. The implication is that the library is central to the university’s teaching, research, and service mission. This concept, though previously generally accepted without authoritative proof, is facing numerous challenges to its validity. There has been considerable research and talk about how to make the library central, again. Much has been focused on what to do, rather than why.

As John Budd stated in 1995, “grounded study of the use of libraries, say, or of the transmission of information is impossible without an understanding of what underlies the act of using a library or of transmitting information… without an understanding of the ontological purpose of the library—its essence or being—the empirical study of its function as an organization lacks a fundamental context. By ontology of the library I mean the core of the library's being, the reason for the library's existence” (pp. 305-306).

Through this transcendental phenomenological study, the researcher is proposing an ontological purpose of the library at a public research university from the perspectives of representatives of its nine key constituencies–chief executive officer, chief academic officer, chief research officer, chief student affairs officer, library director, faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students.


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