Campus libraries use tech to streamline student searches, staff work

Library technology will save one campus "five figures" annually, an official said.

A smart-phone application has ended the days of database searches at Boston College libraries, and staff members at Eastern Illinois University’s library can take inventory in two hours instead of two days, thanks to emerging technologies that are gaining traction as higher-education budgets are slashed.

Developing and maintaining these services comes with a price tag, campus library officials said, but the cost savings have been worth the investment as library operating budgets dwindle, along with those of most departments at colleges and universities struggling through the country’s economic downturn.

Some institutions have struggled through these budget cuts – California State University East Bay students protested a proposed 10-percent library cut last spring, for example – while others have searched for ways to maintain student and faculty services using popular technologies.

The eight Boston College (BC) libraries are using an app accessible via smart phone – including popular iPhones and Droids – that helps students avoid tedious searches for textbooks in the first days of each semester.

Gone are the days of logging into the campus library system, entering course numbers, and finding books one by one. Boston College students can now log into the application, which will generate a list of textbooks they might need for the coming semester.

The application, called Logi Insight for Libraries, was created by developers at BC, Texas Tech, and New York University, and accesses student schedules to create a list of their courses’ books and where they’re located in the library.

Kevin Kidd, manager of BC’s library applications and systems, said a mobile device app seemed a logical step in bringing convenient services to students.

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