Recent trends suggest the notion that students use the libraries
only as study places is holding less true than ever.

Mira Levitan
LSA junior Victor Osisanya shelves books at the Harlan Hatcher Library yesterday afternoon. Despite reduced library hours, student usage of library resources is up, the University reports. (KELLY LIN/Daily)

Changing this perception and increasing awareness of library
resources has been a goal for administration members of the
University Library, which comprises 19 libraries and collections
including the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library and the Shapiro
Undergraduate Library.

By all admissions, one of the primary roles of the libraries is
to provide students with space for individual or group studying.
“We see that the library is an important place for students to come
together and study together,” said Brenda Johnson, University
Library spokeswoman.

But at the same time, the University Library made more than
180,000 reference transactions in 2002, the most recent year for
which data has been compiled.

Evidently, a significant portion of the more than three million
people who enter the libraries each year are using and checking out
books and other resources. “Our circulation continues to keep
steady in terms of print,” Johnson said.

Not only is usage remaining steady, but last month, 13,000 more
people entered the library than in September of last year. And the
number of reference questions asked through the University
Library’s Ask Us program has increased as well. “Across the campus,
we’ve seen this year a change in the pattern of use of the
facilities. People are coming in earlier, both in terms of the time
of year … and in the day,” University Library Director Bill
Gosling said.

This success may be the result of University Library
advertisements and special programs such as peer counseling and
research consultation meetings with librarians, as well as
introductions provided at freshman orientation, Johnson said.
Still, the recent increase does not necessarily indicate a trend.
“It may take another year or so to get a true picture of what (the
increase) means,” Gosling said.

Johnson also said that many students and instructors unknowingly
take advantage of library resources.

Research materials and journal articles attained from databases
such as Proquest and LexisNexis are available to members of the
University because the University Library licenses them.

“You’re using material that wouldn’t be there if we didn’t
license it,” Johnson added.

Despite these advances, the view still exists among some
students that the 6.7 million books in the University Library
system go mostly unread.

LSA freshman Peter Shapiro said he believes that most students
walking in to the Graduate and Undergraduate Libraries do so
primarily for the study space. “People would be happier if they
took out the books and put in more couches,” he said.

Notably, this increase in attendance comes as statewide funding
for higher education is being cut. The University Library, which is
94 percent supported by state funding, is attempting to trim
expenditures without affecting student services. The Social Work
Library has seen cuts in its hours of operation, and the Graduate
Library now closes at 6 p.m. on Fridays.

Possible reductions in hours for the Undergraduate Library are
being considered, but no changes are imminent, Johnson said. Cuts
in hours of operation are based on volume of usage and other
factors such as the availability of staff.

Over this week’s Fall Study Break, the Graduate Library closed
at 5 p.m. on Sunday and 7 p.m. on Monday.

The Undergraduate Library maintained its regular hours.

 

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