Library Continues Transition: More Study Space, Less Shelf Space As Kemp Digitizes

Photo Credit / Natalie Irula Kemp library appears bare during ongoing updates to move physical information to digital.

Natalie Irula 

Opinion Editor 

Walking into Kemp Library, students are greeted with tables, computers, and rows of empty shelves. Our library, like many college libraries across the nation, is in a state of transition. A modern wave has replaced old books with new, advanced technology.

“Basically, we are trying to rearrange everything to better suit what the students want,” said Library Department Chair Megan Smith.

According to Smith, the library staff analyzes students’ wants via front desk suggestions, overhead comments, and national surveys.

When it comes to the row of empty shelves in Kemp, Smith said they are simply doing what they have always done: replacing old editions with new ones, which includes digitizing them.

“A lot of current curriculum content is only available online,” said Smith. “Now, we are focusing on giving students access and making sure they know how to use all of the resources we offer.”

This focus on service is at the center of the transition, providing the foundation for the future of Kemp Library.

“I hope to serve the students better in any way we can,” said Leona Hughes, Access Services Supervisor.

However, not all students or professors agree with the transition.

“I can’t send my students to the library for sources like I used to,” said Dr. Elizabeth Smith, of the ESU English Department. “If I did, they wouldn’t find anything because there just aren’t any books!”

As an English professor, Dr. Smith maintained her view that the library “should be a place of refuge and discovery” for her students, most of them English majors.

On the other hand, many students would like to see the implementation of modern tech.

“The library pretty much sucks,” said sophomore Joshua Weiss. “The shelves are empty, yea. But, the technology isn’t even up to date to balance it out. Those computers are from like 2005.”

According to an article titled “College Students Don’t Want Fancy Libraries”  by The Atlantic, college libraries have been “pouring resources into glitzy technology” creating so-called “media centers.”

These “media centers” consist of things like 3D printers, green screens, video, and audio recording software and even virtual reality simulators.

For example,  Claremont College described its library’s digital tool shed as an “incubator for innovative digital research, teaching, and learning” and features a large screen data visualization wall, green screen wall, and laptops with special software.

Freshman Marissa Fahsberger said while she prefers study space rather than books, but a media center is on the top of her list. 

“I can just find what I need online,” she said. “Also, I can just study in my dorm or lounge or whatever, but I don’t have like a VR headset in my room. I’d chill at the library if they had cool stuff like that.” 

However, technology like the ones aforementioned may just not be in the budget.  

In a study done by Cengage Learning, 77% of students polled said their top reason for going to the library was to study alone. This finding directly conflicts with Megan Smith’s assurance that ESU students particularly need more space for group work.

“Honestly, they just be adding tables,” said student Sheba Stewart. “Like, I don’t really go that much because I can just do the same stuff at home and save the trip.” 

The library is actively looking for students’ opinions on what they would like to see in the library.

To reach out, simply fill out a contact form on the ESU website, visit the library during the hours of operation, call the Circulation Desk (570) 422-3126 or the Research Assistance Line (570) 422-3594 or even connect with them on social media. 

Kemp Library is active on Twitter @esuLibrary, Instagram @kemplibrary, and Facebook.

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