Library plays new role as technology takes over

Ryan Stainbrook

As time has passed, the role of the library has expanded to more than a place to just check out books.

“Digital content and electronic resources play much larger roles than they did 19 years ago,” said University Library dean Mark Weber. “For most students today, if it’s not digital, then it’s not as much on their radar screens.”

Over the years, the University Library has implemented different services such as the student multimedia studio, the writing commons and the department of special collections and archives to cater to students’ needs.

“Technology has been huge,” said Barbara Schloman, associate dean of the library. “It’s really made it possible for people to be more self-efficient.”

Media Services Manager Gary Mote helps run the student multimedia studio and thinks services like this bring more traffic to the library.

“Today, students are being asked to do more than just do research then type papers,” Mote said. “Using new technologies that enhance our ability to communicate ideas more effectively and efficiently has become critical in today’s global society. That’s where the student multimedia studio excels, by helping integrate literature and multimedia.”

Mote also mentioned that over the years, he has seen how the overall use of the library has changed because of the increased use of the Internet.

“Just 15, 20 years ago, the only way to do research was to physically go to a library where they kept books and journals on shelves. The Internet changed all that,” Mote said. “People come to the library because of the personal support they get that just can’t be duplicated online.”

Mote also mentioned that staying on top of the latest technology is key to attracting students.

“We not only have to stay on top of the latest technological developments but we have to be leaders in developing and implementing applications critical to students’ needs.” Mote said.

Beyond the latest technology, service is something that Schloman and Mote both agree keep students coming back.

“I think the library has a very strong service ethic,” Schloman said. “I think that is what separates us from the other entities.”

Schloman also said she feels the personal one-on-one special services, like the writing commons, are very important in attracting students.

Although service is important, Schloman said she agrees overall appearance is important in attracting students.

“Altering our physical aspects is important,” Schloman said. “We have to have enough space to serve our students.”

Schloman thinks things like the renovations to the first floor coming in the fall will make the library more attractive to students and keep the library “on students’ radar.”

As technology advances every day, the library will continue to provide personal service to separate itself from other sources.

“In this library, we want to reach students and help them become more information literate,” Schloman said. “I think we can save you time and find you better information than you could get on your own.”

Contact library and information sciences reporter Ryan Stainbrook at [email protected].