Research Paper: Libraries Changing Role

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[. . .] Most believe that journals and books are still welcomed by some users. In contrast to printed journals, electronic versions cannot guarantee the permanent availability, due to publishers' policies. Therefore libraries must retain printed journals until they are sure that their e-journals can be held in perpetuity. Medical libraries may be a pioneer and extreme case to be considered. The Welch Medical Library has decided to work towards becoming completely digital by 2015. By that time all the information required by the students would be available to them in the digital form and they would not require text books to conduct their research. The library as we know it will transmute into a "knowledge centre," which will work as a repository and hub of the library's educational program in information literacy (Freeman 2005).

Library staff will then act as consultants, collaborators and trainers. The traditional library will largely become a repository for materials on the history of medicine (Oliver 2005). Due to their limited resources, few universities are willing to go this far, however, and there is some evidence that improved library facilities are associated with significant increases in student usage (Shill & Tonner 2004). This seems to have occurred most noticeably where libraries have made the most concerted effort to foresee the maximum effect of advanced technologies (Freeman 2005).

Advantages of Traditional Libraries

Overall, it is clear that Lancaster's paperless society (Lancaster 1999) is not upon us and that libraries that react appropriately will not become deserted, as claimed by Carlson (2001):

Some people still prefer libraries over web-based virtual libraries because traditional libraries:

Are secure unlike the web-based libraries

Provide a quiet and calm place where one can read or do research without a chaos around Are free to use

Offer a physical space where people can interact physically and discuss things

Offer authentic research unlike the internet where the information is not so authentic (Demas 2005)

It is also clear that libraries must continue to grow with new technologies which are not equivalent to the Internet. Frischer (2005) gives two directions: (1) two-way, demonstrations of virtual reality models for the teachers and students; and (2) digital publication of scientific 3-D models of mathematical equations, complex molecules, distant galaxies, or ancient cities. Indeed, this is not an unimaginable picture. Technology is secure and enriches the process of transforming libraries.

The Hybrid Library

Libraries may currently be in a transition period. Current design trends include increased use of glazing and cultural artwork, better noise management, and improved access for those with disabilities, and improved provision for information technology (McDonald 2000). This is an opportunity for library staff to think about the future -- what will impact on the library and how. In this era of internet, space and design will have lot of significance (Frischer 2005). But Boone (2002) asserts that people who plan and design libraries cannot ignore the significance of traditional libraries, and in order to integrate technology in the area of library it is very important to use both methods in one place.

Based on his vision, ideally a library building is like an interface in which people can talk to others and to the materials. That is, libraries provide a physical space for teachers as well as students to interact with each other and also access all sorts of information for free (Boone 2002) McDonald (2006) observes that libraries have not been replaced by computer centers, and Martin and Kenney (2004) agree that the libraries nowadays do not accommodate only technology and technology-based services. They are actually formed by the new technologies. This is the fact whether they acquire the web-based library or not and agree with Trussell (2004) that "electronic access to current and historical information must have priority over the housing of historic physical volumes."

According to Freeman (2005) library is perfect place to integrate the technology because in this way the benefits of the traditional library system are enhanced. The benefits of both, the technology and the traditional library can be achieved this way. Books are not going to disappear, because the great majority of people still prefer reading printed books than electronic versions. Despite enormous efforts to digitize books, it is very unlikely that we will obtain everything that is available digitally. And of course we will continue to wish to preserve some manuscripts and rare books in their original form. According to Borgman (2000), there will be hybrid libraries, archives and other information institutions in future. For instance, hybrid workstations benefit not only digital producers but also libraries themselves, because they may ultimately operate as storage area of quality digital material" (Frischer 2005). Library design must give users something they do not have in the office or at home, namely community. Frischer (2005) cites ARL statistics showing that although total circulation in research libraries fell considerably due to the emergence of the internet, during the time between 1991 and 2003, however at the same time the number of group presentations jumped 61% in the same period. A problem must be considered. As McDonald (2000) points out, that the augmented use of current technology has increased the demand for space required for the library buildings and thus has increased the overall costs.

Ironically, it has often stimulated demand for traditional services. In other words, IT may not decrease libraries' personnel resources, space and budget. On the contrary, it will pay for itself when the libraries aim at effectiveness of use. The "information commons" is a popular method for incorporating technology and information material, though there is not yet one clear concept to fit all. According to Bazillion & Braun (2001), it simply indicates linking up information technology, information material, and support of staff. Bennett (2003) defines information commons as "spaces where learning is the principal activity and where the focus is on facilitating the social exchanges through which information is transformed into knowledge." Beagle (1999) regards it as a place where "the coordinated and extended set of study and workspaces offer & #8230; an array of options ranging from traditional individual study to collaborative conference areas." Brewer et al. (2004) perceives it as offering "community spaces for inquiry-based learning and out-of- classroom activities." The information commons also relates to the claim by libraries of responsibility for cultivating information literacy (Bennett 2006).

However, Kuh and Gonyea (2003) found in their research that information literacy is not necessarily increased directly from the access to the libraries. As Bazillion (2001) points out as to what sort of facility is required which can increase the information literacy? On the other hand, the information commons is typically a highly social place where people can interact openly and eating is probably permitted. All these are designed to encourage people to share thoughts with their peers and use diverse technologies.

Influence Of Pedagogy

In the view of pedagogy, library spaces play an interesting role. Bennett (2005) says that a library needs to be a place which has a domestic touch to it so that people feel at home and comfortable. It is believed that students will be more motivated and learn more efficiently when the socially constructed environment is warm and friendly (Karagiannidis & Kinshuk 2002). According to Freeman (2005), other than the classrooms, there should be a place for the teachers and the students where they can interact with each other and develop analytical skills in themselves which comes only from extensive reading and research of different materials present in the library. For this skill to be developed, it is imperative that the people go to the libraries and spend time there doing actual research using different texts rather than just searching for the exact information that they require for their assignment, homework, project, general knowledge etc. (Freeman 2005).

The group study area is a common feature in academic libraries nowadays. This is evidence of responsiveness to constructivist pedagogies advocating collaborative learning. Barr and Tagg (1995) describe change in the pattern in which education and learning takes place. In this current technology driven society, instruction it is not important any more, instead it is the learning which is important. Therefore, an environment which provides such thing as learning environment to the people, then the goal is achieved. Bennett (2005) called for library staff to join faculty in supporting this universal change in pattern regarding technology driven libraries to evaluate the performance of the library. He asked them collectively, about the performance of the new library system as far as learning is concerned. He was concerned about the learning that resulted from the new system rather than the frequency and ease of use. He asserts that the main task of the library is not to provide information only, rather the learning that results from that information (Bennett 2006). Deep learning requires participation in communities, and libraries have a large part to play in this process (Brown 2002).… [END OF PREVIEW]

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