The library scene is not as dead as you think

Kestutis Rushing,

In the age of digital downloads, updates, and ‘like’ buttons, libraries can seem irrelevant, outdated, and like ancient institutions. However, that is not the case at Cal State East Bay, where students frequent their university library.

According to CSUEB Library’s statistics, almost 1.16 million people visited the library from 2015-16, and that number is increasing. Students enjoy the various amenities such as tutoring at the Student Center for Academic Achievement (SCAA) and the help provided by research experts at the reference desk. Today, libraries are much more than just checking out books.

CSUEB Library faculty member, Gr Keer explained that in the digital age the library is changing.

“We are slowly focusing on electronic resources…because of online degrees,” Keer said.

John Wenzler, the Dean of the Library, elaborated on Keer’s statement: “We spend about 80 percent [of the library budget] to buy electronic books…It’s more convenient to go online.”

Wenzler also explained that 15 to 20 years ago, the library had a peak of 20,000 books being checked out. “It’s weird [that] our collection is gradually decreasing [since then], but more people are coming into the library [today].” Wenzler wants more space to add “new technology,” such as “3D printers and laser cutters.”

Wenzler and library faculty member Diana Wakimoto agree that the there is no evidence to show that the library scene is dead.

“The only people to say that haven’t set foot in a library in the last two decades,” Wakimoto said. “We have technology, online [resources]…and training.”

The library staff believe that they best serve the community by ordering in e-books, offering tutoring at the SCAA, and giving research advice; having real people at the library works best. “Human touch is super important…We try to be an information place, but also… [we] support the learning,” Wakimoto said.

With so many books in the collection, some are never touched. At that point, Wakimoto explained that those books are pulled, but they have to consider if it is useful or if it aligns to the curriculum.