“Libraries are repositories of books, music and documents, but above all of nostalgia: the musty stacks, the unexpected finds, the safety and pleasure of a place that welcomes and shelters unconditionally.” – Washington Post
Guilty library confession: I use Google multiple times per day. I also use it during reference searches…why? Because it’s immediate; because full-text articles are often linked to Google when on campus; because even if it’s not the right answer, it is an answer; and to verify or figure out some little bit of information I need. Like last week when looking up some law firm rankings, but the law firm name had been misspelled. Makes it hard to find rankings with incorrect information from the get go.
But all that said, here are 5 compelling reasons libraries remain relevant:
5. Not Everything is Available on the Internet. While an amazing amount of useful information is available online, not everything can be found there. Google Books has taken on the huge task of digitizing millions of books from the world’s largest libraries, however contemporary authors and publishers may not permit their works to be available for free on the Internet. It is already prohibited by copyright law to make books in copyright fully accessible via Google Book Search. Libraries license numerous academic research journals, databases, ebooks, and other material that are usually inaccessible to someone looking to find that same content freely available on the Internet.
4. Libraries and Librarians Improve Student Test Scores. There have been studies showing that students who frequent well-stocked and well-staffed school libraries end up with higher ACT scores and perform better on reading and writing exams. A 2005 Illinois School Libraries study shows that students who have “high schools with computers that connect to library catalogs and databases average 6.2 percent improvement on ACT Scores.” Some articles have suggested that academic libraries improve student retention, that leads us to #3…we can help save you time!
3. Academic Librarians Save You Time. The Sheridan Libraries has subject specialists in many disciplines to help you jump-start your research process. Starting a paper or a project and not sure where to start? Librarians at JHU have created guides that can help you get started no matter where you are…Many guides offer links to core online resources for the subject the guide is about, which can help you get a quick handle on what core databases might be most relevant for you. If you spend more than a few minutes searching and can’t find what you’re looking for, contact your librarian. We’re more than happy to help. If you’re not in the library, you can also ask us on our library website.
2. Physical Libraries Adapt to Your Needs. While some from outside libraries might find this surprising, it is very true. The Sheridan Libraries added student-centered space in the Brody Learning Commons – a great space for collaborating, group study, filled with lots of student-selected furniture. You can also reserve a group study online. The MSE Library will also under go a much needed renovation in coming years. Work has already been underway to help us understand more about your research and scholarship needs, a recent example is the visual International Scholarly Communication Survey about research tools.
And, the number 1 way Libraries and Librarians can help you is…
1. Librarians Promote Critical Thinking and Encourage Patrons to Create Content. Librarians know that are students and researchers are not just passive consumers of information – they produce information. Students and researchers use the library to obtain knowledge in order to create their own and new independent works. Our librarians teach classes, guide students through the research process, and have helped students create online journals, edit Wikipedia articles, and helped jump start students’ working on group projects.
I still and always will use Google, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but hopefully this gives you a few ideas on how libraries and librarians might be able (and are very happy) to help you.