From books to bytes and beyond

The university library has always been more than a simple repository of books. It’s an academic environment without barriers; where all disciplines, competing ideas, and curious minds intermingle in a quest for knowledge.

Over time, however, how we carry out that quest has changed significantly – particularly in regard to advances in technology.

“We’ve always had printed material, but what’s really evolved is the availability of electronic and digital materials,” says Carleton University Librarian, Martin Foss. “We can envision a time when all our journals will be digital.”

Intangible information has its benefits. Electronic and digital materials certainly require less physical space than their paper-based peers. But the move from books to bytes also creates a few challenges.

“There’s always been a feeling of intimidation about the library,” says Foss. “It’s always been hard to help students learn how to find what they need to find.” The introduction of high technology has in some ways contributed to this issue. “We also need to teach students how to effectively use the Internet.”

Thankfully, modern-day librarians can do just that. As the physical setting of the library has changed, so too has the training librarians receive in order to provide the best service to clients.

“There sure is a whole lot more (to training as a librarian) than there used to be,” says Foss. “We’ve hired new librarians who now come with wonderful presentation and teaching skills.”

And these skills are an important part of the modern-day university library.

The continued use and evolution of technology in the Library is but one factor in the development of the new Learning Commons. “It’s a combination of learning technology and learning support,” explains Foss. “It’s not just a glorified computer lab.”

Learn more about the many high tech tools currently available in the Carleton Library. From information management support (RefWorks) to wireless networks and interlibrary networks (Sm@rt Library, Scholars Portal, and RACER), the MacOdrum Library is fully equipped to support research and learning in a modern environment.
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