RUTHIE KELLY: Vote ‘yes’ on the library referendum

by publicationarchive

You’ve been standing second in line for exactly nine minutes, anxiously checking your watch as you wait for someone, anyone, to vacate a computer so you can print the 10 page, half-your-grade paper. Class starts in six minutes and your professor expects the paper in her hands before the clock strikes the hour – no excuses. You give the evil eye to the guy checking his e-mail to your left. You start to see red.Everyone’s been there.Fortunately, Love Library is working to assure that this situation doesn’t happen any longer. A simple online vote for the referendum on March 12 and 13, via WebPortal, will make our library what it should be – more than just a current powerful portal for information – it’ll become a hub of campus culture and self-education.The proposed referendum provides astounding benefits from an increase in the library student-use fee by $5 per semester until it reaches $25, compared to the present cost of $10 per semester. In proportion this may seem like an enormous, though gradual jump, but in reality, the increase is nothing compared to the benefits students will reap.Benefits include expanding and improving the 24-hour computing and study space currently confined to the Reserve Book Room – greatly reducing instances of the above term-paper situation – which is rather small compared to the campus enrollment of about 35,000 students. In addition, more group study rooms will be built and furnishings and facilities will be upgraded throughout the building. Let’s hear it for more comfy napping chairs, better bathroom stalls and less creaky elevators.A panel of librarians has been an integral part of suggesting these improvements and their implementation, aiming for a café-like atmosphere as a culture hub to attract students, while still retaining the library’s primary function as a fountain of information and a retreat for study.The ultimate goal is to increase the library’s appeal to the average student. Some suggestions already implemented include the display of art pieces produced by students, the addition of food-friendly areas and a laptop lounge. But these steps are not confined to the library’s physical location alone.Electronic resources are a vital part of the library’s 24-hour service. If you’ve taken Comm103, at some point you have accessed a scholarly journal from the Current Periodicals and Microforms Center, illustrating the huge collection of articles and studies you can use in research papers – basically science reports from professors and scholars on the studies they’ve conducted. What most students don’t realize is that many of these journals are online, accessible through the library’s Web site from anywhere with an Internet connection – making your search for data faster and more precise. A significant chunk of funding provides students access to these invaluable databases, journal articles and e-books at their convenience, without needing to go to the library – collections of subscriptions to thousands of magazines, newspapers and journals right at your fingertips. The cost of these electronic resources is rising by approximately 10 percent every year. If the fee is not passed, there will be a significant number of cancellations to these subscriptions, severely limiting the available pool of research which students can access. One of the most appealing aspects of a university education is the ability to educate yourself, but this is extremely difficult without access to the necessary tools and information. Think of choosing to do research at a library the size of a classroom compared to a library the size of Cox Arena – why would you intentionally choose the smaller one with less information, especially if you can search the huge one by keyword but would have to scour the small one by hand? It’s like using a textbook printed in 1987 versus an updated 2007 version – which is more likely to have relevant information?If the student body does not pass this referendum, the result will be worse than just tattered chairs and long lines at the RBR – it will cripple our access to information and thus handicap our ability to learn. An extra $5 per semester is more than worth it.

-Ruthie Kelly is a journalism junior and staff columnist.

-This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec. Send e-mail to letters@thedailyaztec.com. Anonymous letters will not be printed – include your full name, major and year in school.