Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Academic libraries empty stacks for online centers

AUSTIN, TEXAS – When students wander into the former University of Texas undergraduate library this fall, gone will be the "Quiet Please" signs, the ban on cheeseburgers or sodas, the sight of solemn librarians restocking books.
The fact is, there will be no more books to restock. The UT library is undergoing a radical change, becoming more of a social gathering place more akin to a coffeehouse than a dusty, whisper-filled hall of records. And to make that happen, the undergraduate collection of books had to go.
This summer, 90,000 volumes were transferred to other collections in the campus's massive library system - leaving some to wonder how a library can really be a library if it has no tomes.
But a growing number of colleges and universities are rethinking and retooling their libraries to better serve students reared in a digital age.
"While libraries are still focused on their physical collections, they aren't the sole purpose anymore," says John Shank, director of the Center for Learning Technologies at Penn State Berks College in Reading. The advent of the Internet and the digitization of information has transformed the way students learn, experts concur, and libraries are scrambling to keep up. read more...

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