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UNM libraries still appeal to students

Despite stores such as Borders and Newsland closing up shop, UNM’s Zimmerman Library still has plenty of chapters left in an increasingly digital world.

UNM Libraries associate dean Nancy Dennis said that 1.8 million people visited UNM’s four libraries last year, and Zimmerman topped the list.

“We’re already seeing gate counts here in Zimmerman of over 6,000 people a day,” Dennis said. “It’s a little bit more than last year, but it’s a very busy place.”

She said the library attracts students for several reasons, including the first floor Starbucks, a high number of computer terminals and communal study areas.

But students mainly come to the library to seek information, she said. The materials lent out by the library as well as the catalogue are evolving to keep up with the changes, she said.

According to Dennis, the library began renting iPads and Kindles to students over the summer. The library also rents out laptops, but those are only available for 3-hour blocks and cannot leave the library.

“If they’re home and they’re studying, then they should have as much access as possible to content they can study remotely,” Dennis said. “If they’re in the classroom, the dorms — wherever they are — if they’re not physically in the library, we want to try to serve them there as well.”

Despite the growing availability of information online, students still check out books. The library circulates more than 300,000 books a year out of the collections, but also has about 200,000 e-books accessible through LIBROS, an online catalogue.

Dennis said whether materials come in print or digital format is largely dependent on the area of study. For example, art and music libraries haven’t been digitalized because the quality of audio and visual electronic documents is subpar.

“The sciences for the most part have embraced electronic,” she said. “The journals are now born digital and delivered in a digital format. You can’t buy them in print anymore.”

Dennis said that the push toward digital material required new skill sets for students, library staff and faculty alike, but she said there will still be a place for the old-fashioned book.

Student Kelly Dunn said she isn’t familiar with the online resources.

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“I don’t really use anything online,” she said. “I mostly use the printed materials (because) I haven’t been taught the online materials.”

Student Amanda Best said that she thinks students use their textbooks more than anything.

“I don’t use any books at the library. I use the computer and the tutoring service, CAPS. If you need a book for school, you can get it at the bookstore,” she said.

In addition to the materials, the infrastructure of the libraries has been updated in the face of changing technology and study habits Dennis said.

“We’ve certainly embraced technology,” she said.

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