It’s only the second week of school yet the library is already full of students. Yet because of the merger of Emory University and the new Library Service Center, the Price Gilbert Memorial Library has been feeling a oddly empty, devoid of its books. Instead, there are more computers than previous years and more study areas have been added.
According to statistics provided by the library, the number of students who enter the library per year has increased significantly, from 800,00 to 1,300,000 in just the last ten years. Meanwhile the books checked out of the library per year has decreased just as significantly, from 80,000 to 30,000 in the same time period. Even taking into account the growth of this Institute, it is obvious that the needs of Tech students have changed because, well, the world has.
Ten years ago, Facebook first arrived on Harvard’s campus. Now my grandmother has one. Because of the rapid expansion of technology and technological access, our library has decided to more effectively reflect the influence technology actually has in our education.
As the library’s publicity video, Georgia Tech Library: Engineered for You, puts it, “Libraries are about collecting, preserving, and providing access information”. Now, all of that can be done virtually.
“I think that it’s a smart move based on how students at Tech use the library. The bulk of research is now done online and many of the hard copies we have aren’t utilized. I know they were thinking of combining ours and Emory’s library off campus, and as long as that facility was still accessible to us, I honestly think the benefit of space outweighs the extra time it takes to get to that library,” said Kali Nicholas, fourth-year ME.
But fear not book lovers; even though our books are being moved off of our campus and digitized, this does not mean that books are becoming irrelevant. eBooks and eJournals are widely available at gtsearch.library.gatech.edu/search. eJournals can help make research projects easier.
eJournals are often sorted into themes instead of alphabetical order and there is no need for the Dewey Decimal System. Searching for keywords is much more efficient than looking through a section of the library. Madison Kelley, a second-year International Affairs student, explains that she “like[s] using eJournals because [she] can search through them to find what [she] need[s] instead of wasting time reading the entire article.”
While overall the reaction seems in favor of the renovations, some do not buy into the hype. Andrea Vetrone, a fourth-year ENVE, explains that she prefers the touch and the feel of a book, rather than the glare of a computer screen. “The glare of the computer screen hurts my eyes and I feel like it can’t be good for them. I also find it easier to skim through a book because I usually don’t know exactly the right word to search for.”
But not having books on campus does not mean that they are no longer available. They are listed in a searchable database and can be delivered from the Library Service Center to campus in a timely manner. Additionally, because our hard copy library has been merged with Emory University, there are books available which can especially helpful for Liberal Arts students.
When it comes to reading for fun, students at Tech can use OverDrive, an online service that allows users to check out eBooks for three weeks at a time. The best part is that more than one person can check out a book at any given time and all of the best sellers are available.
“[OverDrive] is convenient because I read with my Nook, carrying around several books without added weight,” said Frances Tsenn, third-year BME. “Though I don’t have much time during the semester, I love to read over breaks!”
While the opinions are swayed about the relocation of books to an off-campus site, the digitalization of the library does not mean that books are not important to education. The renovations are simply more efficient, cost effective and space effective since books and academic journals will now be available online.