According to a student survey at the University of Chicago, the death of the book is not coming any time soon. On the heels of a trend-bucking $42 million library expansion (see LJ Academic Newswire 6/7/05), which includes space for an additional 3.5 million volumes, the U. Chicago administration polled 14,000 students, garnering 5,700 responses about their library usage habits. Despite the popularity of electronic resources, the poll findings suggest that "there is no real evidence of substitution" for physical library space and services.
Andrew Abbott, a professor in sociology and chair of the library task force, said that the survey found the use of information resources appeared to be "synergistic," with those students who take out many books usually are high users of electronic resources as well. "Users do seem to be using online rather than physical journals," Abbott explained in a news release, "but usage of other physical materials is up, and the survey tells us very clearly that heavy digital media users are heavy physical media users and vice versa." The full results of the survey will be presented on Nov. 17, at a conference titled "Space and Knowledge," which will explore the use of libraries on campus. The university's ambitious $42 million expansion of the Regenstein Library is scheduled for completion in June 2009. It will add 40,000 square feet to the 30-year old library, and a high-density, automated shelving facility will house print journals, saving the library space that will be reconfigured into an information commons. The recent poll results apparently confirm the thinking of university administrators. John Unsworth, dean of the graduate school of library and information science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told the CHICAGO TRIBUNE that the "challenge that libraries face, for at least the next generation, is to build collections on both fronts--digital and physical—because no collection that is only one or the other will be adequate."
From LJ Academic Newswire