Upon returning to Tech for the start of the school year, there was something exciting about seeing books covering the shelves of Price Gilbert Library.
The sight of real, physical books fills students with a sense of optimism, a feeling for many that had long been suppressed over the past year and a half that took a toll on the mental health of many members of the Tech community.
A library holds more than just a collection of resources — it represents the university’s identity as a center of learning and innovation, a place where students turn to for information about the world around them.
With Tech being an “institute of technology,” it is no surprise that the university has reinvented its library to be an extensive online database.
Accessible from anywhere in the world, this online library holds a wide variety of articles, journals, archives and everything in between to aid students in their research and academic ambitions.
It is a reflection of Tech’s fundamental values as an institution — innovation, curiosity and the strive for excellence.
While an online library is a fantastic resource for its accessibility and wide range of resources, many students can agree there is something missing from Tech’s library. The experience of physically walking into a massive library full of books, old and new, and perusing through the aisles is comforting and nostalgic in a way that merely typing into a search bar on a database will never be, similar to the way that scrolling through an eBook off the internet can never compare to the sensation of flipping through the pages of a physical book in your hand.
Going to a library is more than just about getting resources; it is an immersive, sensory experience and a timeless escape from the outside world.
Yes, there are now books at Price, but the authentic library experience is missing. At Tech, the library is just a building, the books on the shelves are just placeholders and the immersive experience of a quintessential university library is replaced with a space solely intended to be a location to get work done on your laptop.
Tech’s culture of efficiency and progress is reflected in its spaces. If you go into most of Tech’s buildings, they all have a modern, technologically centered aesthetic with lots of metal, glass and neutral colors, and when combined with an online campus library, these aspects reflect the university’s values and goals.
While this is fitting and motivating for some students, it doesn’t have a human-feel to it which can have damaging effects on overall stress-levels and mental health. Just being around books has a de-stressing effect, so a book-filled library could provide students with a comfortable environment to feel more at ease.
Tech’s newly reinstalled physical library isn’t exactly what people think of when talking about a university library. While some colleges have multiple floors, and sometimes buildings, that have dedicated books sections for different areas of study, Tech just has three floors of the Price Gilbert Library with three bookshelves leaning against the wall.
The sections are not very large either, with what looks like less than fifty books in each section.
The biggest section is the computer science books section, which is ironic because it is filled with books that are outdated and full of information that can easily be found online.
There is a science fiction section near the entrance of Crosland Tower, but that only seems to be there for exhibition purposes. Tech’s library is not what we were hoping for, but the effort is appreciated.