Is a Bookless Library Still a Library
By Tim Newcomb
We've been hearing about it for years, but the bookless library has finally arrived, making a beachhead on college campuses. At Drexel University's new Library Learning Terrace, which opened just last month, there is nary a bound volume, just rows of computers and plenty of seating offering access to the university's 170 million electronic items. Scott Erdy, designer ofthe new library, says open, flexible space the furniture is movable and the walls act as one giant whiteboard allows student and staff "knowledge transfer," a concept reinforced by Danuta Nitecki, dean of Drexel's libraries. "We don't just house books, we house learning," she says.
The trend began, naturally, with engineers, when Kansas State University's engineering library went primarily bookless in 2000. Last year, Stanford University pruned all but 10,000 printed volumes from its new engineering library, making more room for large tables and study areas. And the University of Texas at San Antonio ditched print in lieu of electronic material when it renovated its engineering library in 2010.
But when books disappear, does a library lose its definition?
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