Art: Photo of Students studying in the HBLL taken by Chris. Tag line- Students take advantage of the Library (or HBLL)
by Dan Cole
The rise of technology over the past decade has given information access to an overwhelming amount of users, and in some ways left old sources of information obsolete.
The Internet has provided people with a host of reliable responsive databases that they can quickly use and then move on. Only five years ago these databases and platforms didn’t exist. The iPhone was still years away, YouTube was in its infant days and parents had no clue what Facebook was.
With an ever increasing collection of information and platforms, the local library has been keeping pace behind the scenes. Though Roger Layton, the HBLL communications director, said not everything can be found online.
“There is a real perception that everything is online, but we found that it’s not,” Layton said. “Things online are very recent or they are old and in the public domain. But things under copyright law, we can’t just grab them and digitize them.”
Circulation at the Harold B. Lee Library has increased over the past few years, from about 3.2 million items checked out in 2004 to almost 4 million items check out in 2010. This doesn’t take into account digital check-outs and Internet use of library articles.
“Our circulation in volumes increased 1.3 percent last year,” Layton said. “So we’re not losing patron use, we’re actually growing. Perception of libraries’ necessity decreases [but] the actual use of the library has increased.”
Layton said he urges students to take advantage of all the services the library has to offer.
“I think that is one of the things that people don’t appreciate,” Layton said. “The library has hundreds of services but it takes little effort to learn how to use them and we have people that can teach you.”
Libraries are filling the need not only for reliable digital databases, but act as quality control for information consumers.
When asked where students start when they need information, Jonathan Daniels, a Chinese major from Orem, said he turns to Google.
“The fastest way for me to get information is through Google,” Daniels said. “It’s too difficult to go through all the academic journals. I realize academic journals are more accurate and reliable but it takes too much effort to look information up.”
Daniels is not alone, according to the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) membership report. In 2010, over two-thirds of all searches were done on Google.
With such quantity of feedback from websites, users can be overwhelmed with the amount of search results that the quality of information becomes a concern. Not every hit on a Google search comes back with useful results.
Daniels said finding quality content using Google is sometimes challenging.
“There are so many different websites that are available, I can’t tell what is reliable and what is unreliable,” Daniels said.
With so many options available to students, it is often confusing to sort out useful information needed for a project from everything else in the digital domain. Layton said libraries and librarians will play a more prominent role as guides in the future of digital content.
“I see libraries doing that more and more in the future.” Layton said. “We’re not going to need to store databases in the library, but we do need to be the interface between students and the information, and help them save time by going directly to what they need.”
Freshman Programs Manager Kimball Benson said the human aspect of accessing information will be a necessity in the future.
“The library is not just a space,” Benson said. “I think it is also the personal connection in terms of accessing information or evaluation information. It’s something you don’t get from Google, there is actually someone there that can assist you.”