Most of the books published from 1972 to 2007 that Baralt found were digitized in some form but only had “20-percent preview chunks” available to readers. And in some languages, such as Tibetan, Baralt couldn’t “enable her computer to generate Tibetan characters to attempt to conduct a search.”
Haas said that while opening a web page is usually college students’ first step in researching a topic, taking the time to peruse the bookshelves can add depth to research that might not be available online.
“I remind them that there is a lot of information out there that may never make it online,” Haas said. “They need to be aware of that.”
To remind students that the old hardbound book could be as useful as the most advanced web-based repository, Loyola University library officials deliver books to students who request them.
The students put in a request online, show up at the library, and a library employee at the circulation desk hands them their book. The library needs one business day to fill each request, according to the university’s web site.
“We know that when students find out something is in print only, they want the convenience of having it at their fingertips,” Haas said. “They might disregard a good source in print if they have to get up and go get it, versus having something right there on their computer screen.”
While relatively few faculty members shun higher education’s shift toward book digitization, college and university library officials said there remains an underlying longing for the old-fashioned campus library.
“There is a huge nostalgia for that feeling of the old English library,” Layton from BYU said. “But our library—and most modern libraries—are all glass and metal. There’s no fireplace; let’s put it that way.”
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