GLOVERSVILLE - While academic and public libraries have similar missions, those at schools and colleges use technology in different ways to better serve teachers and learners.
The Evans Library at Fulton-Montgomery Community College has made several changes over the years to benefit both the faculty and students, embracing the Digital Age. The library has drastically changed over time because teachers are changing both their curricula and the expectations of their students.
The FM library made its first big jump into cyberspace in 1998, when it installed 11 PCs with access to six databases that included catalogs, online encyclopedias, periodical citations and some full-text articles. Today, the library has more than 75 computers with access to 37 databases. About 1,000 people walk through the door daily, said Evans Library Director Mary Donohue.
Mary Donohue, director of the Evans Library at FMCC, and student Ray Poon stand next to the “idea wall” inside the library. The wall is a place for faculty and students to suggest ways the library can improve. (The Leader-Herald/Levi Pascher)
Gloversville High School offers its students 20 laptops and 16 desktop computers for use in the school library, known as the GHS?Media Center. School librarian Carla Bengle said she is looking to get a set of NOOKs for the students and already has 86 eBooks available online. The media center has access to nine databases provided by the state and eight additional databases the school has purchased, Bengle said.
The high school has two new programs to help students. One is Noodle Tools, a program used to help with proper citations and organizing and provides digital notecards. The other program is Image Quest, which provides students access to thousands of pictures available for use with no worries about copyright infringement.
"Many students believe they can simply use any picture they find on Google, but that's not the case," Bengle said. Assignments have evolved in both college and high school settings. In the past, professors and teachers used to require students to use a certain number of books and periodicals as sources for research papers, but as technology has changed, they have adapted the specifications to include any valid and reliable source.
This has allowed the Evans Library to condense its book collection from 65,000 to 30,000 volumes over the last two decades, Donohue said. She said many of the faculty don't use actual textbooks anymore but instead will have the students read texts online and use websites where they can access slides and other resources.
"The materials we had 20 years ago no longer supported the needs of today's curriculum," she said. "It changes that fast."
The Evans Library used to have more than 200 print magazines but has cut that number to about 100. Its electronic databases grant access to more than 43,300 periodicals. It loans laptops and Kindles to students and recently purchased iPads for circulation and use in classrooms.
Donohue suggested the burden of knowing whether information is valid or not has been placed on the students today because information on the Internet varies so widely. Today's librarian can help provide access and give some guidance, but students themselves must become information-savvy.