A new computer center at Temple is causing a splash, according to an article in the Chronicle by Scott Carlson. Though the majority of students using the center own their own computers, there still is interest in congregating in a place where they can work together and avoid the distractions of home (or the nuisance of carrying a laptop around all day). The center offers high-end technology as well as facilities for plugging a laptop into a display so that a group of students can work together – and a lounge with nearby food carts. Some students go there because the technology is better than their own. But what’s interesting is that for others the center has the appeal of the student-centered library.
Mr. O’Rourke [Temple’s VP for computer and information services] calls it a “modern-day library” and says he would have put the center in the library if there had been room. Students gather here in the spirit of library study, appreciating a quiet place to work around friends, and libraries have typically been the homes of these types of computer clusters. As it is, the TECH Center is across the street from the main library, and university officials fantasize about building an elevated walkway between the two.
Many libraries have found, with or without a physical bridge, that libraries are the place where books and computers – and people and knowledge can come together.
More mainstream press attention to libraries – this time in Madison’s Capital Times. The focus is on social spaces and the availability of food and coffee: “Libraries, once bastions of silence, are quickly becoming the academic equivalent of the student union.”
Included in the story, though, is the fact that funding isn’t keeping up with the increasing cost of materias and that circulation of books has dropped even as the number of students coming through the door has risen.
One number I’ve never seen included in these kinds of stories is the number of materials a university like UW loans through interlibrary loan. A quick check of ARL stats for Wisconsin shows that has increased signficiantly in the past ten years even though in-house circulation of books has dropped.
Seems like most of the articles from the mainstream media about libraries these days focus on how Google, etc. are eating the library’s lunch. So it was refreshing to see this positive story about an academic library in a metropolitan newspaper. Elmhurst College’s A.C. Buehler Library’s (Susan Swords Steffen, Director) interior redesign project is profiled in this article. In particular, the article discusses the addition of a new library instruction facility within the library. It also quotes a faculty member who works with the librarians to promote information literacy for students. The value of librarian-faculty collaboration is highlighted in the article. You don’t read stories like this in your daily paper everyday, but I do hope we’ll see more of them.
The University of Chicago has previously been in the higher education news because it is bucking the trend of some peer institutions to reduce or eliminate campus space for books. At Chicago they are planning a $42 million expansion of the Joseph Regenstein Library to make room for 3.5 million volumes. As part of the planning process the University conducted a survey that collected information on the library usage habits of 5,700 students. While the survey indicates that students prefer to use online journals over print, it clearly shows that heavy digital media users are heavy physical media users. The poll findings will be presented Thursday, Nov. 17, at a conference titled â€œSpace and Knowledge,â€ which will explore the use of libraries on campus. If any of our ACRLog readers attends the conference please consider sharing your notes as a blog post here at ACRLog.
Every now and then we see a good story in the mainstream media about the positive contributions libraries make to their communities. Not surprisingly, those stories tend to feature public libraries. Occasionally the subject of the article is an academic library. This past Sunday the Star Tribune in Minneapolis featured an article about the innovations at the University of Minnesota’s Walter Library designed to lure students to the library. As with most articles of this type the student quotes reflect their attraction to Internet search engines, but some acknowledge that the library provides invaluable and time-saving research assistance – and good coffee. After reading the article and exploring the web site at the University of Minnesota Library, I find their balanced approach to reaching out to students provides a good model. Recognizing students’ preference for search systems that provide a Google experience, they’ve developed the “Undergraduate Virtual Library”. It looks to be a federated search system that mimics the features of a simple search engine, but with a slightly busier interface. But they also promote a variety of user education programs to help students improve library research skills. It demonstrates that while it is important to acknowledge changing student behaviors by offering new and different approaches to research, academic librarians can offer balance by continuing to support the essential values of user education.