Technology Changes Today’s Libraries

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Greetings from the College of Southern Nevada!

Technology has fundamentally changed how many of our society’s institutions function, and the college library is no exception.

The academic libraries of just a generation ago would hardly be recognizable to today’s students. Libraries still have stacks of books, but they have become so much more than that.

Libraries do remain popular. A recent survey showed that more than 5,000 students came through CSN’s libraries in a single day. The college has fully staffed libraries on all three of its main campuses. In the fall 2014 semester, the libraries had more than 500,000 visitors.

The library’s website tells a similar story, with more than 2,000 visits per day.

It is the website where many of the technological changes of recent years are on display.

Students can access online tutorials, help with research, and style guides, all 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During most library hours, they can chat with a librarian instantly.

Because research has shown that nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, with even higher rates among the college-aged, the website is mobile friendly, as well. It will be redesigned in coming months to be even more useful on smartphones.

The website is not the only technological change at the library. More than 50,000 e-books are available, the library has a large collection of tutorial videos, and more than 100,000 academic journals entirely online. That’s more journals than the library could ever have had in print, and now they’re easily searchable.

A survey of students we conducted last year showed that 98 percent of them said they were satisfied or very satisfied with CSN’s libraries. They were most satisfied with the librarians.

That’s one thing I don’t believe will ever change about our libraries. There may be a day when paper books are rare, even in libraries, or when computers give way to whatever comes along to replace them.

But librarians are the heart and soul of a library. What good would all that technology be, after all, if there were no one to help us use it?

This column ran online June 12, 2015 in El Tiempo.

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