Academic library of the 21st century

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The purpose of this assignment is to learn about modern academic libraries and establish which changes have to be made in order for the libraries to meet the needs of 21st century students. In today’s information age particularly, more technological study resources are becoming available, enabling students to access vast amounts of information on the Internet. This has significant impact on traditional services offered by the academic library. Although actions have been taken in order to respond to the technological changes through means of online databases and catalogues, so far the possibilities for further development have not been considered fully. Technological change is just one of the main factors affecting how the modern library operates and evolves.

The purpose of this study is to investigate these factors. In order to do so, a comprehensive collection and evaluation of information is required. Both primary data, which is to be collected using questionnaires aimed at the target demographic of individuals who affect or are affected by the library as an organisation. Secondary data, which has been collected previously, but relates to the subject and can be found through various sources such as books, magazines, newspapers etc.

Literature Review

In order to understand the issues, which are concerned with the changes academic libraries undergo to meet the demands of the 21st century, better, we have conducted a thorough literature research, which will add further value to our preliminary research. A thorough literature review and analysis of preliminary research results will be a useful tool, when putting together the final questionnaire. Most useful articles were gained from Emerald Insight, a database aimed at the academic sector. It is updated daily and uses reliable sources of information, related to various academic topics.

Much of the literature on the changes taking place in the modern academic library are concerned with improving strategic planning. Modern British academic libraries are an industry in their own right. They represent a 100 million pound a year turnover industry, employing nearly 2500 staff and posses collections worth billions of pounds. Like any other business, the success of its future depends on the ability to adapt to the changes of the modern world and adjust services to meet the demands of its customers – students. The future of the modern academic library is a popular and controversial subject.

The internet allows students to access vast resources of information outside the library. These changes are making it harder for the library to compete with modern technologies, and therefore strategic planning is crucial.

Through searching through many articles using Emerald Insight, I had found a vast amount of information relating to the progression of the modern academic libraries, in contrast with the inevitable evolution of technological changes and advancements. I identified many factors which occupy this controversial debate of the modern academic library.

Books can be leather bound, old or new. They are records of fact or fiction, and can hold memories of past events. They usually live on library shelves, but eventually will be electronically stored on a vast worldwide database, no longer will customers have to search through rows of library shelves to find their chosen loan. The availability of the requested text, will be as fast and easy as one click of the mouse. The invention of a new Microsoft operating system – Windows Vista, which will be released on the market later this year, offers the user an online library. It will store vast amounts of information, allowing the users to turn pages of even the oldest treasures of British national collection, such as Da Vinci’s codex, Mozart etc. on their computers within seconds, whenever they need to access it.

A detailed review of the literature

Key themes identified

Models that are currently being proposed in the literature

Analysis of data and conclusions drawn

Questionnaire design & preliminary findings

Analysis of data. Statistical findings

Conclusions drawn from analysis

Problems encountered whe

Detailed explanation of how you administrated the data

As part of our preliminary research and in order to understand the area of study better, we have conducted a questionnaire. We were required to get 300 samples for students and 50 samples for staff, in order to get a variety of feedback and views from both the outside and within of the organisation. The results are intended to help us understand the possible issues of concern, popular views and opinions, possible areas for further investigation and give us a wider knowledge and a solid base for designing the final questionnaire.

In order to complete the research efficiently, the sample questionnaires were split equally between each member of our group. Questionnaires were administered at the Leeds Met University premises, mainly at the library, some in student halls and houses. In order to avoid biased results, each potential sample candidate was approached at random, depending mainly on their availability to complete the questions and cooperation. While we found most potential respondents to be helpful, others showed little cooperation, as they had no interest in our

Student Questionnaire

The student questionnaire consists of 7 open answer questions. A brief reasoning why each question was selected as follows:

1. What kind of facilities do you think are useful in the library?

This question will help the most useful facilities and perhaps understand which facilities have outdated themselves or are in need of further improvement.

2. Why do you use the library?

This will help us understand the main reasoning for choosing library as opposed to other study services.

3. What other information resources do you use besides the library?

This question is useful when establishing other popular study services and possible competitors.

4. Does the library meet your needs? If yes, why? If no, why not?

This question is crucial for understanding the students view on the library in general and the areas of it for further reconsideration.

5. How could the library facilities at Leeds Met be improved?

The information gained will help to collect the most popular views on the improvement, in order to meet the needs of a modern student, which is the core purpose of this project.

6. What advantages, if any, are there in using the Internet to find information?

This could give clues as to why the modern student body prefers the Internet over academic library.

7. Do you prefer to study at home or at the library? Reasons why.

The findings to this question will determine alternative ways of improving the library in order to achieve the possible advantages of studying at home.

For each question we gained a variety of answers, however some answers proved to be more dominant than others.

The first question concerns the facilities, which students find useful in the library and 170 students agree on computers, which makes it the most popular answer and shows the impact that technology has on the library. Other popular answers include quiet study areas, printers/photocopiers, internet access, access to databases, group rooms, audiovisual, self loan service and staff with helpful knowledge. This is valuable information, which can later be used to make a final closed questionnaire, using the most popular answers as available options for a related question.

Question two asks why students use the library and as the results are varied, it is hard to establish one dominant answer, however a few varied answers seem consistent, such as to study, to access books, to use internet/search for information, to do research etc.

Question 3 asks what other information resources are found useful and is dominated by one main answer – Internet. This also shows that the Internet is the main competitor for the modern academic library, as it offers such a variety of information, which can be accessed simultaneously by multiple students as opposed to a single printed document. Other popular results are newspapers, online journals, newspapers, other people and books. 21 students prefer not to use other resources at all.

Question 4 gives option of a yes or no answer and further explanation. The majority of answers agree that the library does meet their needs, mainly because it provides access to literature, the ability to always find the needed information, great facilities, helps the studying progress and offers good opening hours. The majority of students, who didn’t think the library meets their need, agree that this is due to lack of study books and computers. This is valuable information when evaluating what could be done to improve the library.

Question 5 is concerned with improving facilities and has the most varied feedback out of all the questions. More computers is the dominant answer, which shows that question 4 and 5 are interlinked, as the answers are similar. This could be telling us, that these questions result in a similar response, and therefore both of them are not needed.

Question 6 has proved that many students find the Internet a faster and easier option for conducting their research and agree that it offers a vaster variety of up-to-date information and a more convenient access.

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