The University Library: The Glorified Internet Café

How will students in this generation know the reward of researching and find their own sources? How will they ever appreciate a library if all they know of one is rows and rows of computers and docking stations?

I have an extreme soft spot for libraries, as I’m sure many of you who are reading this do as well. They’ve always been a place of comfort, knowledge and escape for me. I even worked at the library of the University I was attending back when I was pursuing my degree in English. However, when I revisited this library  a few years after graduation I was shocked with what it’s become.

With the creation and emergence of e-books, the literary world has changed forever and most of it has been for the better. Authors can self-publish now and reach a vast audience with an e-book, where they may have struggled before.  Many of us no longer have to tote a massive book bag around to accommodate our reading habits and we can read a book at click of a mouse now. However, with all of this convenience, most of us would never give up the touch, feel and smell of the real thing or the experience of browsing a bookstore or a library.

When I went to revisit this University library I walked into a brand new building that is half the size of the previous library I was used to. I thought to myself that there is no way that this is a library now. I mean, in all seriousness, where are all the books?!  I was horrified to discover that in the last few years the University put 75% of their books into storage and had opened a ‘Digital Library’. I was literally flabbergasted. What is a library without books? The building that used to contain twelve glorious stories of books is now an office building and this massive University has turned their library into a fancy and expensive looking internet café.  Students can now get the content they need for their studies from the internet catalouge. I do admit the thought of being able to get some resources directly to my computer would have been helpful for some of my essays during my years as a student, however, nothing was more helpful than actually having the book in my hand.  I don’t know if I’m even capable of retaining information from content I’ve read from an internet journal without the ability to touch the page, place a sticky or a bookmark something for easy reference.

I am beyond sad with this transition. I understand the need to have resources available through the internet but to remove most of the books from a library is a step too far and not in the right direction. How will students know the reward of researching and find their own sources? How will they ever appreciate a library if all they know of one is rows and rows of computers and docking stations? Where is the beauty in that? I do believe that a great balance can be found between books and technology but the obliteration of the need for a physical book is beyond me. But maybe I am turning into an old lady at the ripe age of thirty.

Has a library close to you undergone a similar change?

*Photo: University of Calgary Digital Library

Canada Reads 2015 Short List

2015-01-22 11.02.06

Sorry for the late post gang! I was away in Cuba for a wedding last week and I must still be running on Cuban time.

While I was away the Canada Reads 2015 shortlist was announced! I’m so excited! There are some great books on the list this year and Wab Kinew picked a great question and theme this year: What is the one book to break barriers?

I’ll be working my way through the shortlist and will be posting all of my reviews to give everyone the low-down on this years selection. Here are the books that made the cut:

1) And the Birds Rained Down by Jocelyne Saucier, translated by Rhonda Mullins

2) Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes by Kamal Al-Solaylee

3) Ru by Kim Thúy, translated by Sheila Fischman

4) The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

5) When Everything Feels like the Movies by Raziel Reid

The debate for the winner takes place on March 16-19! I’ll do my best to read all of these books before then.