Digital libraries: Educational resources in the digital age

Quick! What’s the first thing you think of when you see the word library? If it’s books, you’re living in the past.

Paperless Library

For paperless tech fanatics like us, the idea of a digital library is more than a little exciting. The best part? Digital libraries have finally become more than just a futuristic daydream. The most recent we’ve come across belongs to Florida Polytechnic University, but lately, they seem to be popping up all over the place.

Let’s take a look at several noteworthy examples of differences between traditional libraries and these new, bookless libraries…

The look

Bexar County, Texas boasts the United States’ first all-digital public library—BiblioTech. Rather than standard shelving and book-friendly work areas, library-goers are met with rows of enormous iMacs and an iPad bar. That’s not all, either. In lieu of traditional private study and activity rooms, this library’s private rooms are packed with digital equipment. What kinds of equipment? How about video game consoles, touch screen video tables, and interactive educational games and devices? Which brings us to our next point…

The resources

In the aforementioned Florida Polytechnic University facility, standard library staples have been replaced with newer, more relevant resources. For examples, the reference desk has been replaced with a success desk. The success desk staff points students in the direction of digital resources and trains them in the technologies available, rather than aiding in the use of catalogs and other traditional reference materials.

The work environment

Where traditional libraries encourage silence and solitude, digital libraries cultivate interaction and teamwork. A great example of this is in the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Applied Engineering and Technology’s digital library. In a university publication, a student is quoted describing the atmosphere:

“This isn’t like an ordinary library where you’re expected to be quiet and stick to yourself…The study areas plus the fact that we can write on the walls and have immediate access to tons of scientific materials make it the perfect place to work on projects and solve problems as a group. This library is always full of people.”

So here’s a loaded question:  Is one of these new, high-tech, digital facilities still a library, or is it something else entirely?


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