6.17.2010

Why the Library Should Be a Major Part of Your College Choice

This is, of course, a shameless plug for a friend and form coworker, Kelly. :) 

You can find her all up in Boston College's grill.  ;)

But, it brings up a very important point.  While a few students can get away with never setting foot in a library, the vast majority of the student body will need the library on campus for a large variety of things: books, research materials, course reserves, video viewing, journals, group study and solitary study space, newspapers, and magazines.

The service the staff provides is key to a student's success.  We think of information as something that's super accessible thanks to Google.  The problem is that your average person, let alone student, cannot tell the difference between good and bad information.  Library staff members are trained to weed through the vast amount of data behind the walls of the library and the internet to provide students with accurate and up-to-date information. 

And while for many students, good enough is close enough in the world of Google, for faculty, having the right information is key to their success as academics.  The right information is the difference between tenure and finding a job elsewhere.  The library and the faculty should have close ties and students should be wary of any instructor (especially one in the liberal arts department) who has never even checked out a book from the library.  (I once had a tenured prof who had never set foot in the library and he taught creative writing!)

The building itself should make you feel... well, I can't say at home.  It should make you feel like you have options.  Want to just bum around?  There should be mini living rooms for you to crash in with some good reading or magazines nearby.  Hungry?  Vending or a cafe should be there as well.  Need a quiet space?  How about a loud one?  The library should have those things as well.  There should also be a 'wow' factor.  Something that makes your eyes pop out of your head when you see it.  It's easy to go back to the library when it's not only a resource, but is a cool place to be in period.

Then you have the library's website.  Once upon a time, my boss's boss's boss asked me if I would have a look into fine structures at other Big Ten libraries.  No big deal, right?  OMG.  The only reason I managed to get the information together was because I understood how those sites worked.  And I knew how they worked because I am a Library Drone.  Libraries are my bread and butter. 

Your average person?  Totally boned. 

Libraries work constantly on their web presence, trying to find that one perfect combination that will make the site pop and get the user to the info they need fast.  But if the library doesn't have it, the student isn't going to get it either.  Worse, Google will see the traffic.

Which is really bad when you consider how much money libraries put out for digital resources.  The William and Joan Scheyer Business Library at Penn State puts out 4 million a year for digital resources.  4 Million!!!  And that's just one of fourteen different libraries on the University Park campus.  Digital resources are wasted without a good search function and checking out a library's website should be a big part of deciding if the college is worth your time and potential crushing debt.


4 Reasons Why the Library Should Affect Your College Choice

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