Over the past decade, there has been a decisive move away from print towards electronic resources. This can be seen in the rise of the e-Reader, the Cloud and the use of tablets and these days students can find most of the information they need online either at home or on the go.
So, are academic libraries still relevant?
The answer is yes!
Libraries are so much more than a place to check out books and read in silence. When students are considering their University options, campus libraries are often one of the main considerations, and despite the general move to e-resources students seem to be visiting their university library more often and spending more time there when they do.
So why do students still use their libraries?
To speak with librarians and subject specialists
These are the people that work with the resources available every day and they’re the ones that can point students in the right direction as well as give advice. This kind of knowledge is indispensable and can be a real time-saver for students or academics facing deadlines.
These days a lot of university libraries are open 24/7 during specific times of the academic year. Even when the library isn’t physically open, there are usually 24-hour help desks or reference services available to students.
Access to technology
Universities invest heavily in their learning resources, making libraries the perfect place for students to have access to the latest technology instead of having to buy it. Academic libraries also often have a range of generic or subject-specific programmes available to students, as well as training opportunities on how to use them.
Digitally stored content
Academic libraries are often on the cutting edge of digitally stored resources, which can be accessed on and off campus. Universities have huge digital catalogues full of thousands of digital journals, papers, books etc which students can access from anywhere.
Social study spaces
There are often areas available for study groups, allowing students to get together to network, brainstorm or work on projects in a safe and well-equipped environment. It gives students the opportunity to get out of their halls or homes and learn in a more social space.
The academic library as a learning space has always been the best place to get serious about coursework and exam revision. It’s important that universities continue to invest in library facilities and in learning resources so that students see it as an essential resource and learning area.