As colleges continue to adjust to a more digital world, libraries have had to keep up as well.
Both public and college libraries have struggled with staying relevant in the digital age. Some public libraries across the nation have even started loaning out unusual items like energy meters and seeds for spring planting.
But this doesn’t mean the duties of librarians are becoming extinct – they’re just changing.
Not only are more books and journal articles being made available on the Web instead of as paper products, the physical space of libraries are changing.
Cristela Garcia-Spitz, digital library program project manager at the University of California – San Diego, has seen shifts in her job over the years. She works with digitizing the collection to make it available to access online.
Not only are more books and journal articles being made available on the Web, the physical space of libraries are changing.
No longer just a place to keep maintain store books, libraries are becoming more of a place for people to meet and interact.
Garcia-Spitz said she and the rest of the library staff are always looking for ways to make library space more interactive. They have moved parts of the library’s collection off site to make more room on floors for places for students to study, both as places where groups to meet and as places for individual quiet work.
Beyond using the library as a place to study, here are some other ways students can make use of library services provided by their universities:
• Check out laptops, iPads or calculators
A variety of equipment is available for students to check out of the library other than books. Laptops, iPads, e-readers, chargers and cameras can all be borrowed depending on the university.
Garcia-Spitz said more people are starting to become comfortable with e-readers. Although she personally prefers to print things out, she said a benefit to reading books on mobile devices is you can search texts electronically and get definitions of words with a single tap.
• Go beyond Wikipedia and Google
Term papers and theses rely on more than a simple Google search. Professors encourage students to use scholarly and peer-reviewed articles.
University libraries have more than 600 databases that can be broken down based on subject nature. Commonly used databases are Academic OneFile, LexisNexis and JSTOR, which are free for students to access.
“People do think they can find everything online,” Garcia-Spitz said. “They don’t realize you have to go through the library to get access to the services the library has.”
Just by completing a research project using library resources, students can be eligible for a library award.
For the past two years, University of Maryland Libraries have offered cash awards of $1,000 each to undergraduate students who have completed research projects and papers through the use of library resources.
The goal of the award is to promote the use of library and information services.
• Ask a librarian 24/7
If you find yourself stuck writing a paper in the middle of the night, students can get in touch with a librarian 24/7 through live online chat rooms.
Garcia-Spitz realtes that students should to not be afraid to approach a librarian for help. College libraries offer many ways to reach out for assistance, whether through chat, email or in person.
“[With] the growing amount of content online, it’s still very hard to figure out a search strategy, so it can be very useful to ask a librarian,” she said.
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