Before the internet changed how college students accessed information, the main source for gathering data was their campus library. However, after digital resources became available online, students began to turn away from libraries in favor of online research, which has caused these institutions to change how they offer students information. Today, the roles of libraries are still in flux, but there are several ways that online collections are now changing the face of student research.
1. Digital Librarians
One advantage to using a traditional library was that students could ask the librarian questions about how to find the information they needed and how to use it to the best of their ability. While keywords and advance search options might have replaced some of the duties of the librarian, students still might have questions that a site search might not answer.
To address this issue, some online libraries have added digital librarians that are available at certain times of the day. They can answer research questions, help students find older resources, and offer basic support for students who have little experience with researching.
2. Multiple Borrowing Options
Traditional college campus libraries often carried books for required reading before the birth of the internet, but a major frustration that many students faced was not being able to get to them before they were checked out by others. Most libraries carried only so many copies of a book, and some students had to rely on other sources for their research.
Today’s online libraries, however, have solved this problem by offering PDF downloads, eBook lending, and digital borrowing systems that allow material to be either borrowed or purchased an indefinite number of times. This means that a class of thirty can all access the same book without having to wait for it to be returned by the previous user.
3. Access to Archived Works
Some library archives are unusual or obscure and require archiving in a physical locale, as outlined in this infographic. However, many other archives are now available in online libraries and accessible to students whenever they need it. These archives, some of which contain classic works and historical data, can be a vital resource while researching because many digital libraries are now including photo archives as well as printed text. The addition of photos and video to these libraries can also be an advantage to students because they can be duplicated many times without a loss of quality.
4. Resource Sharing
Students are often required to quote several sources for essays and scholarly reports, and online libraries are making this easier than over with resource sharing. Links to other verified material and websites can create a network for students that may allow them to build a reference page that would otherwise take up a great deal of time at a traditional library. Resource sharing may help students streamline the process of creating a works cited page, especially for larger projects.
The face of student research is always changing, and those involved in it must always find ways to overcome new challenges. However, online libraries are helping students by offering assistance and support in ways that may allow them to reach new academic heights.