The students cannot acquire knowledge and develop skills only by attending classes in colleges and universities. In addition to attending classes regularly, they need access to robust libraries to enhance the learning experience. Many universities have been digitizing their existing libraries to enhance the learning experience of students in a remote and distributed environment.
According to the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR),
“Digital conversion of library materials has advanced rapidly in the past few years. It promises to continue to expand its reach and improve its capabilities with extraordinary speed. Digitization has proven to be possible for nearly every format and medium presently held by libraries, from maps to manuscripts, and moving images to musical recordings.”
With academic institutions digitizing their existing libraries, the universities must consider setting up digital libraries or library without walls. Unlike conventional libraries, digital libraries are built as a database or repository of a variety of content – text files, digital documents, ebooks, still images, audio, video, and infographics. Also, the students can access the digital library remotely over the internet using either computers or mobile devices.
Hence, a digital library for universities can be set up, upgraded, and expanded without investing extra time and resources. The new-age digital library solutions are designed with features to automate common tasks performed by a librarian – acquisition, classifications, cataloging, storage, issue, tracking, and preservation. Academic institutions can leverage several advantages by building a digital library for universities.
12 Advantages of Setting up Digital Libraries for Universities
Set up Different Types of Digital Libraries
The sophisticated digital library for universities allows educational institutions to set up a variety of libraries – an academic library, generic library, and digital archives. A university can set up a generic library or digital archive to make the content accessible to students, teachers, and researchers without any restrictions. At the same time, the university can use the same software to build an academic library by mapping the materials or resources to specific courses, syllabuses, and curriculums.
Anytime and Anywhere Access
Unlike physical libraries, a digital library has neither a physical address nor a mailing address. Also, they do not operate according to any opening and closing hours. The digital library materials can be accessed by both students and faculties anytime and anywhere over the internet. The student can use both computers and mobile devices connected to the internet to access the library materials remotely. Also, the students can acquire knowledge at their own pace and convenience by accessing the digital library materials on smartphones and tablets.
Content and Materials in Many Formants
The digital library software creates opportunities for universities to set up libraries by integrating digital content in various formats – PDF documents, ebooks, static images, presentation, infographics, audio, video, and spreadsheets. The multimedia content makes it easier for students to understand complex concepts and retain knowledge. Also, a university can update the digital library resources and materials from time to time to provide more recent and relevant information to students.
Multiple Access to the Same Library Material
In a conventional library, a single person can access a particular book, magazine, or journal at a time. Another person can access the library resource only after it is returned by the borrower. But digital library for universities makes the same resource or material accessible to a large number of students simultaneously. The university can further make the resource accessible to multiple students without investing in multiple copies of issues.
Advanced and Instant Information Retrieval
While visiting a brick-and-mortar library, the student has to avail the assistance of the librarian to find the relevant books. Also, she needs to put extra time and effort to retrieve the relevant information from the book. The digital library software solutions come with built-in search options. The advanced search options enable students to retrieve relevant information in a few seconds using a variety of search terms – word, phrase, title, subject, and author.
Integrate with eLearning Solutions
The cloud-hosted digital libraries can be integrated seamlessly with commonly used eLearning solutions for universities like learning management systems (LMS) and digital classroom solutions. The integration enables students and researchers to access the relevant digital library resources according to specific courses and certification programs. A university can easily improve the learning experience of students by integrating the digital library with existing eLearning solutions.
No Need to Conserve and Preserve
In a conventional environment, librarians have to put extra time and effort to prolong the life and utility of a book. The universities have to deploy additional librarians and invest extra resources to continue the preservation and conservation of valuable resources. The digital library resources, unlike conventional library materials, do not require conservation or preservation. The cloud-hosted digital libraries back up each piece of digital content to make them accessible to learners over a longer period of time.
Prevent Book Loss and Theft
Every year universities have to invest funds to replace the books lost or theft. Many universities these days add electronic security tags to book to bring down the loss rate. A university can easily eliminate the chances of books lost or stolen by setting up a digital library. A number of studies have highlighted the effectiveness of library digitization in reducing the loss rate.
According to the American Library Association,
“In her 1998 book Managing Overdue (New York: Neal-Schuman), Patsy J. Hansel makes some leaps from surveys she did to posit a national “overdue rate” of .7% pre-automation and .4% for post-automation to suggest a national loss of 6.28 million items or $125.6 million at a rate of $20 per book.”
Automate Library Tasks and Workflow
The new-age digital library software comes with features to automate common library tasks. It enables students to access the desired library resources without visiting a library in person or standing in a queue. Hence, universities can manage and streamline library workflow without deploying extra librarians. They can avail of the features provided by the digital library software to automate acquisition, classification, cataloging, circulation, and maintenance of library resources.
Keep Students Safe
Despite the availability of several COVID-19 vaccines, students have to wear masks and maintain social distancing inside university libraries in the post-pandemic world. Most universities lack the space, infrastructure, and resources required to keep students safe. They can keep students, faculties, and researchers safe by allowing them to access the library materials remotely over the internet.
Save Trees and Reduce Air Pollution
According to PlanetSave.com,
“The amount of paper consumed annually for books in the U.S. is 1.6 million metric tons (2006 figures). To convert it into the figure of a tree, we will multiply it by 20, as the figures usually are in the range of 17-24. So the total we get is about 32 million trees, and if we round it – about 30 million trees.”
A university can save millions of trees and contribute towards reducing air pollution by setting up an eco-friendly digital library.
Reduce Ongoing Operational Cost
As mentioned earlier, a digital library for universities helps in eliminating the need to invest in creating and maintaining physical infrastructure. The universities can make digital content accessible to a large number of students simultaneously without purchasing multiple copies of a book. At the same time, the digital library software eliminates the need to deploy additional librarians through automation of common library tasks and workflow.
Mintbook makes it easier for universities, colleges, and schools to set up digital libraries by providing robust digital library software. Universities can use Mintbook digital library to set up and customize a digital library by integrating digital content from over one hundred publishers. The multi-award-winning digital library solution can also be integrated seamlessly with a learning management system (LMS) or virtual classroom solution.