Libraries need books - Purdue Exponent: Columnist One

Libraries need books

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Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 10:00 am | Updated: 2:04 pm, Thu Mar 7, 2013.

The University should rethink what it is taking away from students when they make changes in study and classroom environments for the “benefit” of students.

Last week, I walked into Hicks and saw there were a lot more computers on the main floor than there were last semester, which I thought was great. But then I saw what happened to the backroom – there were no more books there.

When I asked what happened, library staff told me all of the contemporary literature had been moved to the Health, Social Sciences and Education Library, leaving only approximately 100 course reserve textbooks in the Undergraduate Library. The computers, printers, scanners and other equipment had come from the basement. The reason? To make room for two new digital “IMPACT” classrooms.

Hicks is not the only library like this. The Krannert Library is also almost completely devoid of hard copy material.

The definition of library is to have books in them. The Hicks Undergraduate Library might as well be called the Hicks Undergraduate Computer lab. Yes, the books are still accessible; yes, there are still books in the lab. But really? Can books and the new classrooms not co-exist in the environment? Or, if you need computers and technology for these new classrooms, just use existing computer labs instead of taking books out of the library.

The point of having all of the books all over campus is that people might run across something they find interesting on the shelves and pick up something they might have never picked up in the first place.

Sure, it’s wonderful on the web to be find what you need almost instantly rather than scanning the shelves, but it takes away the point of a library. You’ll never be able to stumble across a book you suddenly find interesting and realize your newest passion.

I know the reason is to keep up with the technological trends of students both in the classroom and during study time, but is that really the best course of action? If Purdue wants to make new digital classrooms, instead of changing the libraries, they should utilize the computer labs, which already have computers in them.

Lauren Westberg is a junior in the School of Communication and can be reached at

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