USC Libraries is providing more electronic resources, and changing the way it serves students in response to the rising popularity of e-books, administrators said.
A recent study by the Library Journal and School Library Journal said academic institutions increased the number of e-books available to users by an average of 93 percent.
USC libraries said they currently have 470,000 e-books available online and will continue to increase the number available according to student demand.
Hugh McHarg, executive director of communications and public programming for USC Libraries, said the university’s libraries are committed to evolving in the Internet age, and will be proactive in ensuring that students continue to receive the best resources, whether online or in print.
“It is not so much a change, but an evolution that is not going to stop,” McHarg said. “Not everything is available online, so the question lies in providing the best content in the best situation.”
Many students access academic resources online through the USC Library Catalogue of online journals and e-books. This digital collection alters the way students utilize USC Libraries because students can access the research sources online instead of going into the library to check out books.
The Library Journal study also found 43 percent of academic libraries reported an increase in the number of e-book requests.
Though e-book usage is increasing, USC Libraries administration said the need for in-person attention and physical resources remains just as important to students.
USC Libraries Dean Catherine Quinlan said students should consider the benefits and drawbacks of deciding whether to use e-books or printed texts.
“There are many benefits [to using e-books] such as easy access — anywhere, anytime,” Quinlan said. “However, there are drawbacks. There is not always an e-books copy of a printed book, and students have to be careful when using e-books because they may not be digitized correctly.”
Many students said they use e-books as their first choice, using physical copies at USC libraries less and less for finding research resources.
Mika Lee, a senior majoring in industrial and systems engineering, said e-books are more convenient and this changes the way students view information for class.
“I try to use e-books as much as I can. I don’t want to deal with going to the library and returning books,” Lee said. “Although [e-books] may decrease the importance of physical books … [they are a] lot more convenient … and really helpful to have at USC.”
Vanessa Haddad, a senior majoring in communication, said the role of libraries has changed for her generation.
“The new library of this age [is the] online library. … There are less and less reasons to go inside,” Haddad said. “The USC online library also has a service where you can chat online with a librarian to help you search, which really helps.”
Other students said they still prefer to search for books in the library to assure the credibility of sources first hand.
Hal Wright, a sophomore majoring in economics, said physical books are easier to use for research.
“I like to see the actual book in person,” Wright said. “I feel like sometimes you can get lost online with searching [because there is] so much there. When you go to a library, it has credibility and you can see if sources look like they are well put together and ask a librarian’s advice.”
USC Libraries said it will continue to grow its online resources but will focus on teaching students how to adapt to the changing times.
“Our job is now to teach students how to be critical consumers of information and evaluate sources critically in order to use them appropriately,” Quinlan said.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the number of e-books available online through USC Libraries t0 be 47,000. There are 470,000, according to Hugh McHarg, executive director of communications and public programming for USC Libraries.