Libraries Swap Stacks of Books for Robotic Retrieval Programs

girls in a libraryWhat do you expect to see when you enter a library on an university campus? Besides dozens of students cramming information into their brains in the hours before an exam, I expect to see thousands upon thousands of books. However, as part of its overhaul of its library, San Francisco State University is going against the norm and has hidden away 75 percent of its books in favor of digitizing its collection.

This school is not alone. In fact, many schools are digitizing their libraries in an effort to make it easier for students to find the volumes they are looking for. At San Francisco State University, the old library was a “rabbits’ warren,” according to the librarian, Deborah Masters. Now, after its “facelift,” the library has put an emphasis on open spaces, more computer and technology available for students’ use, and areas where students can study in groups or grab a coffee in the new cafe.

Some books will remain on display where students can access them on their own. These books will be the ones that are in highest demand, were published recently, or are recommended by a specific department. If a student wants to reach one of the many other books that are not currently on display, he can enter his query in a search engine, which will then cue a robot in another building to retrieve the book and delver it to the student in the library. This entire process is expected to take less than 10 minutes.

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Catholic School Student Runs Illegal Library from Her Locker

Sometimes it makes sense to ban a book from a school library. For example, students should not be reading books about building bombs or any other form of violence in a library that students have access to.

However, does it make sense to ban books such as The Canterbury Tales, Paradis Lost, and Animal Farm? Evidently, one private Catholic school seems to think so because these books go against the school’s religious beliefs.

One student at the school, who is known only by her alias, Nekochan, decided to take action. She recently posted a question on Yahoo Answers to see if people thought it was “OK to run an illegal library from [her] locker at school.” Nekochan explains the situation in more detail in her question:

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New England Prep School Gets Rid of Books

digital libraryAt the prestigious prep school, Cushing Academy, just about 90 miles from Boston, the library is getting a complete makeover. The once traditional library at the 144-year-old school has gotten rid of its collection of 20,000 books in order to make room for a new digital library, according to The Boston Globe.

Book stacks are being replaced with flat-screen TVs, laptop study cubes, and electronic reading devices. And you can’t have a digital learning center without coffee, right? So Cushing Academy is also shelling over $50,000 for a cafe that includes a $12,000 cappuccino and espresso machine.

“When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books,’’ said James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing and chief promoter of the bookless campus. “We’re not discouraging students from reading. We see this as a natural way to shape emerging trends and optimize technology.’’

Talk about keeping up with the times.

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Free Entertainment Benefits of the Public Library

girls in libraryThis summer, everyone is pinching their pennies. If you find that’s you, and you’re running out of ideas and money, then head down to the public library. You might be surprised, but they aren’t just for studying. In fact, during the summer while school is out, the library can actually be a quite refuge. Here are a few ways you can benefit from the often free services available at your local library.

  • Free Movies. Most libraries allow you to check out fairly new DVDs to watch at home. Their late fees are cheaper than the video store if you hold on to them for too long. Read the rest of this entry »

The Evolving Google Library

Google is underway in its enormous book digitization project, collaborating with university libraries in what is said to be the “ultimate combination of technology and scholarship.” It will make millions of volumes and journals available to audiences that would otherwise be unable to visit these major research libraries in person. To some, the project represents a “dangerous centralization and corporatization of content.”

Complicating the debate has been uncertainty about how Google would make the new library available. Google is pledging free “preview” access to all books in the collection, inexpensive ways for individuals to purchase digital access to a full book, and pricing that would make it possible for colleges to buy site licenses to the collections. Read the rest of this entry »

Does the High Cost of Education Mean the end of Brick and Mortar Schools?

man-with-laptopWith more people choosing online education, the value of traditional four-year residential college is coming into question. Yes, a true college experience can teach precious life lessons that no website could ever compete with; however, with the accessibility of information online, does it make sense to spend thousands of dollars when online college can provide all the tools to succeed in the business world? In the wise words of Will Hunting, “You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.”

Four long and expensive years. Read the rest of this entry »


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