21st Century Library: Electronic Materials Playing a Bigger Role

July 15, 2010

The Daniel A. Cannon Memorial Library is about to reach an important turning point: by the fall, more than half of its holdings will be in electronic form.

21st Century Library Brent Short, director of library services, recently granted an interview to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus Blog about the milestone.

“To me, this is the way all universities will need to go,” Short said during the interview. The library continues to purchase the traditional print books, he noted. But many forces are making electronic volumes, particularly electronic versions of reference works, the preferred choice.

Saint Leo University has so many students enrolled away from the main campus that Cannon Memorial Library has been purchasing digital reference works for some time so that students anywhere can do research via the library’s online portal. Also, the students enrolled at the main campus have shown a preference for online reference works in recent years, Short explained.

As this evolution has occurred, librarians have noted an added advantage of the digital format over the traditional book. With many of the electronic resources, two or more students can use an electronic holding at the same time, and not have to wait for someone else to finish with a printed volume and return it to a central area.

Even more recently, library vendors have found ways to make the pricing of online reference works more workable for academic libraries, accelerating the trend toward digital.

Many of the vendors are making their resources accessible not just from library computers, but also from students’ own laptops, desktops, iPads, or other devices. “This is becoming really convenient for mobile access,” Short commented.

Electronic holdings at Cannon Memorial Library now number 116,000, compared to 106,000 printed and bound volumes.

To see a virtual tour of Cannon Memorial Library, click here: http://library.saintleo.edu:8080/images/tour2.htm