Library attendance decreases due to new online collections
Published: Monday, September 3, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 3, 2012 22:09
The amount of students who attend the library and the number of items loaned have decreased in the past few years according to the university’s office for institutional research.
During the 2009 to 2010 school year, approximately 900,000 students entered the library and 400,000 items were loaned out. From 2010 to 2011, the last year with complete data, approximately 850,000 students visited the library and approximately 360,000 items were loaned out. Library officials said they have noticed the downward trend in more recent statistics.
Vice Provost and university librarian Susan Brynteson said she thinks the change in library use is due to the library’s efforts to make scholarly journals and collections available online.
Gregg Silvis, the associate university librarian for information technology and digital initiatives, is in charge of digitizing the library’s collections. He said it is beneficial to the library to free up the physical space of the collections and the space that previously housed the print journals has become the periodicals study room.
“We took all that space where we used to have shelving to house those print journals and consolidated the collection and we put in eight group study rooms and a few dozen tables,” Silvis said.
According to the university’s office for institutional research, the libraries website received about 200,000 more hits during the 2010 to 2011 school year than from 2009 to 2010.
Silvis said another benefit is that students take advantage of the digital copies the library makes available.
Freshman Tanya Krapf said she usually does not use the library and the ability to use digital resources is a convenience she took advantage of in high school.
“It's a lot easier if you can do something from home or from your room than making the effort to go to the library when you can get all that access by yourself,” Krapf said.
According to its website, the library provides free access to thousands of e-journals.
Dina Giambi, the associate university librarian for technical services and resource management, said the number of journals has dramatically increased in the past few years.
During the 2007 to 2008 school year, the library had access to 23,710 e-journals. As of June 2011, the library had 36,691, a 55 percent increase according to Giambi.
“Of the journals we make available to users, that’s over 42,000 total, 86 percent are electronic and we only have 14 percent left that are in print,” she said. “That’s a huge transformation.”
Giambi said the shift has forced the library to change the way its personnel are assigned.
“It’s a tumultuous environment,” she said. “Just like students today, librarians cannot do their jobs without the Internet, we can’t. We order, we do invoices, we use computers all day long.”
Due to the increasingly digital nature of the library’s resources, staff members have been trained and hired for technical skills, she said. The librarians are in charge of managing accessibility issues and troubleshooting problems that occur.
Brynteson said Morris and other libraries are moving toward less printed material and more digital resources, but it is unlikely libraries will become completely digital in the near future. She said one reason is the reluctance of publishing companies to release their content without strict guidelines.
Giambi said the popular book market is moving to a more digital system, but only 20 percent of academic books are available in digital form.
“They come up with a lot of pricey models that a lot of libraries can’t deal with,” she said. “E-books at this point, especially on the university press publications, are much more expensive electronically than they are in print.”
Graduate student Andrew Smith said he has never borrowed anything from the library but has always used it to study.
“I can focus better, it's quieter,” Smith said. “I have an Xbox and a TV in my apartment and people are always hanging out there.”
He said he likes the idea of a devoted study area.
Brynteson said she thinks students will continue to use the library because of the building’s inherently scholarly nature.
“I talk to students and they say there is something appealing about the idea of going into a building and knowing that everyone else in there is doing the same thing—studying,” she said.