McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Labs replace college libraries

  • The reason college students visit the library is no longer for the books.
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  • The reason college students visit the library is no longer for the books.
    Bookless libraries, computer labs and Internet cafés have replaced the stacks on college campuses.
    “We have a lot of students ask for more computers,” Stephanie Kiersey, a librarian at Miller Library at McPherson College. “Especially on our busiest days which is Sundays. All our computers are filled and students are on their laptops.”
    Once upon a time when students needed to write a term paper, they had to go to the library, take the time to look up books on the topic, browse them to see if they were worth the time, then check them out to pour over for hours to gain the knowledge needed for an A plus paper. With technological advances this is no longer necessary for those with an Internet connection.
    “Access to journals and articles is much easier online,” Kiersey said. “Even if a student needs to obtain the full publication we can order it through interlibrary loan and not have to spend the funds to keep it on hand at all times.”
    In addition to purchasing electronic books, a growing fad is electronic libraries. Books can now be borrowed online without the hassles of going to the library, finding the book and then having to return it. Late fees also have been eliminated by this method. When the book is due back, it simply disappears from the electronic device.
    “We now have 120,000 books available on our e-book database,” Kiersey said. “With that database, students don’t even have to come in here to get resources.”
    These days many computer labs get more use than a school’s library. Many colleges have late-night or 24-hour Internet cafes or technology labs. Even if they don’t, students have access to high-speed Internet in their dormitories 24 hours a day. Bethany College, McPherson College and Central Christian College all offer high-speed Internet in residents hall rooms.
    The Director of the Wallerstedt Learning Center at Bethany College Denise Carson said much of the printed books at the library get used in collaborative efforts, when students are doing group projects. Bethany has multiple e-book collections with around 60,000 books to access.
    “It really takes a push from the faculty to get students to utilize all the different resources out there,” Carson said. “There are both pros and cons to the technology. Students need to learn how to discern between credible information.”
    There are still some libraries out there, and students who cling to their hardback and paperback books. The Briner Library at Central Christian College maintains an e-book collection of 7,000 publications. Librarian Bev Kelley said with digital sources are becoming more prevalent, more libraries are focusing a lot of their budgets on digital versions, but, at CCC, she still gets requests for printed versions rather than digital.
    Page 2 of 2 - “When I’m researching something, I prefer digital, it’s much easier,” CCC senior Brooklynn Lemons. “But when I’m reading for fun, I prefer actual books.”
    Once the age of the Internet dawned, having computers in libraries became a necessity. Now there are times when the computers at a library get more use than the books. With the invention of tablets and e-readers, even fiction can be read online more conveniently and occasionally cheaper than purchasing. Even college textbooks can be downloaded to computers and with amenities like built-in dictionaries, highlighter tools, and copy and paste, there is a certain convenience to online reading.
    “I haven’t been to the library since I was a kid,” said Chantelle Theron, a freshman at McPherson College. “I do all my studying on my computer, and I read books on the computer. I don’t really have a need to go to the library.
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