Digital Library?

Digital Library?

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Having watched a lecturer at the University introduce tablet PCs and seen engagement with the materials increase, an interesting story on digitisation and access:

South Korea plans to digitise all its school curriculum materials by 2015. The paper textbook will be replaced by a digital equivalent. No more heavy backpacks and students can learn wherever and whenever they wish. Simple. Universities, on the other hand, are not so simple. We don’t spoon-feed; we expect students to collect, sift and evaluate information from a wide range of sources. We equip our libraries with print and electronic materials. We also provide guidance to students on how to navigate core and background reading by providing them with reading lists.

Unfortunately, in too many cases, the reading list system does not work. In the National Student Survey, an all-too-common complaint from students is that “there were never enough copies of the books I needed”. Each time we librarians read this we have a feeling of deja vu – compounded by the fear that next year there will be less money and the situation will be worse. It will be, of course, because this autumn students will begin to wonder why, when they pay up to £9,000 in tuition fees a year, they cannot access the books they have been told are “essential”. If scientific experiments are a vital part of a course, the university will ensure access to labs – what is the difference?

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