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Competition for Academic Libraries (Hint: It’s not Google)

January 26, 2007, 3:13 pm

When Google Books and Google Scholar emerged, there was a lot of blog-talk about the impact this trend might have on libraries. The million dollar question: why should I use the Library when I can access everything I need via the website?

We’ve attempted to answer this by creating a dynamic environment, offering expensive software, hosting regular events, and providing space for groups, teaching assistants, and oh yeah, librarians.

However, what if this value that we offer was embedded into the classroom buildings? That’s a threat I see emerging, at least here at Tech. I toured our new College of Computing building and they’ve done some interesting things. For example, they have over 70 computing laboratories, 8 computer labs (with student assistants there to help), and a 200-seat auditorium. Throughout the halls there are several writeable walls (I guess for spontaneous coding writing?) as well as several problem-based learning rooms.

What’s also cool is that intermixed between all the classrooms, labs and offices are numerous types of chairs and tables that can be moved around. It’s mostly glass too so there is a lot of natural light. And there is also a little coffee shop, vending machines, and microwaves.

It’s a clean and pleasant environment, with areas for individuals and groups, and enough distractions to keep it interesting, as well as hundreds of computers, wireless connectivity, direct access to TA’s, advisers, professors, admin types, and peers. It’s open 24 hours, has more than 500 parking spots underground, and is a stop along campus shuttle route.

So, why do they need to come into the library?

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