Technology of HBLL has come a long way


    By Erin Fife

    Technology at the Harold B. Lee Library has come a long way since the first copy machine was acquired for the humanities reference desk in the early ”70s.

    The library has seen a lot of changes, especially now that computers are increasingly more prevalent in research methodology, said Cali O”Connell, administrative assistant at the HBLL.

    Marvin Wiggins, the behavioral science librarian who has worked at the library for more than 30 years, said, “It is not only how it has changed, but how it is changing.”

    The technology at the HBLL allows almost anyone who wants to have access to the tools to improve their education, said Gary Gillum, department chair of the humanities and religion reference desk at the HBLL who began working for the library full-time in 1971.

    On April 13, 1952 Hugh Nibley wrote a letter stating, “BYU should be the information center of the church. The way to gain respect of the world is not to concur meekly in its opinions, as we now often do, but to master its tools and sustain a powerful offensive.”

    New library systems, such as Byline and other databases have helped to link the world and make BYU a place where people can turn for information, Gillum said.

    Gillum has received messages through the ”ask a librarian” link on the library home page from people as far away as Russia.

    O”Connell believes new programs within the library continue to educate the students.

    “Technology allowed us to expand what students have access to,” O”Connell said.

    Gillum said, if students learn how to use all the tools in the library the right way, it will help the time they spend researching and thinking be more beneficial to them.

    When an atmosphere of faith and peace is fostered, students can learn through the spirit, Gillum said.

    It is gratifying to see students engrossed in their studies and doing it with the help of the spirit, he said.

    “Yes, professors and classes are important, but the overall goal of education is to educate the whole man and the whole woman, and to learn how to be educated for eternity,” Gillum said.

    Although the new technology has sped up the research process, it is still extremely helpful to come into the library to get the materials that are needed, he said.

    More than once, a student has come to the reference desk because he or she cannot find something on a specific topic, and Gillum knows just where to go to find the information in the stacks.

    Online cataloging has improved research, but some of the most useful resources are found sitting behind desks, he said.

    The library brings all kinds of information together and allows students to search more effectively, Gillum said.

    The library is the center and heart of a university, said President Gordon B. Hinckley at the rededication of the HBLL.

    Society is very different from what it was in the past. People want things instantly, he said. The new systems help to provide that.

    “The Lee Library is not only a library for a thousand years, but a library with a millennial mission,” said President Bateman, at the library rededication in November 2000.

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