Isn’t everything available on the Internet? Why do we even need an academic library?
The myth that technology can do it all is just that—a myth. The fact is you will find little information on the Web before 1975 and very little serious research available for free. College and research libraries are an essential part of the learning community.
Today, academic library collections offer the best of all worlds—extensive print, audio, and film works and some of the finest electronic resources available. Online journals and other resources are not free. An academic library saves considerable money for students and researchers by providing electronic collections in the same way that it provides books, historical documents, and other important resources that support the campus curriculum. The electronic resources that academic libraries provide are authenticated, unlike much information available at large on the web.
- Why do we need academic librarians? Do librarians really need degrees to do this work?
Librarians are experts in information management. They hold master’s degrees in library and information science. Some have additional graduate degrees. Librarians collect, organize, and preserve centuries of knowledge. They advance teaching and learning by helping students, faculty, and other researchers obtain the best, most accurate, and complete information whether it’s in a book, a database, or on tape. Today’s librarians are the ultimate search engines.
- Isn’t it true students don’t use the library anymore?
On the contrary, if you include the number of students using the online resources on an academic library’s Web site, use is higher than ever. Academic libraries offer an extensive collection of electronic journals and other research materials. These resources are available to students 24 hours a day by logging on to a computer from their homes or dorm rooms. They also can check the library’s catalog and e-mail questions to a librarian.
Students also come to the library to use computers and print resources, do quiet study, and work in groups with other students. Sometimes they come just to relax. The library is an important destination for many students.
- Why should I use the library when I can go to Amazon.com or log on to the Net from my dorm room?
In a word—access. You may think you’re connected if you log on to a computer, but you’re not connected to the vast resources that only an academic library offers. Many resources of a historical or scholarly nature are not available on the Internet or, if they are, only at a steep price. An academic library has resources both online and on our shelves that the Internet will never offer. More importantly, it has the ultimate search engines—librarians, who are experts at helping you find exactly what you need.
- Why should I be an academic librarian?
Being an academic librarian is extremely rewarding. The salary is comparable to what many faculty make and continues to rise. But the real pay off is the satisfaction a librarian gets from helping students learn important research skills, empowering them with lifelong learning skills, and assisting researchers in work that is important to society. For many who choose librarianship as a second career, working in a college library allows them to use their skills and knowledge in new and different ways. As a profession, librarians are committed to ensuring that information is freely available and to collecting and reserving resources of value to tomorrow’s researchers. Academic librarians are proud to be part of that.
- Why should the library get more money when we have to cut back other departments?
The library is essential to a learning community. It provides a wealth of resources—both traditional print resources and advanced technology—that students, faculty, and researchers could not otherwise afford or have access to. These resources support teaching and learning across all departments. More importantly librarians are partners in teaching students critical research skills, developing curricula, and assisting researchers in important and innovative research projects. Without an increase, libraries cannot provide the quality or quantity of resources that faculty and students deserve.
- Since everything is electronic, shouldn’t the library need less money?
Technology offers many advantages, but saving money isn’t necessarily one of them. For one thing, everything is far from electronic. Our library houses important archives of historical documents, photographs and recordings, as well as print materials—the vast majority of which are not available on the Internet. This will be true for the foreseeable future. For another thing, technology is not cheaper. Most electronic journals and reference works cost as much—if not more—than print editions. They also require computers, CDs, and other technology that must be maintained, updated, and staffed. While technology isn’t cheap, it makes information retrieval faster and easier and provides the state-of-the-art access that today’s students and researchers expect.
- What is “information literacy” anyway?
Information literacy means knowing how to find, evaluate, and effectively and responsibly use information from a variety of sources. It means knowing when a book may be more helpful than a Web site. It means knowing what questions to ask. Is the information complete? Accurate? Is someone trying to sell something? Good decisions depend on good information. Academic librarians teach 21st century research skills that students will use throughout their professional and personal lives.
Questions from the American Library Association, ALA Academic and Research Libraries Campaign Toolkit, Chicago, IL.