Monday, Aug. 26th was the first day of the semester at my job. The place was swarming with 60 or 70 students standing in line at the bookstore to buy textbooks. I could not believe. Many of the students take courses online but cannot afford the book. So, they visit the library to see if we have a copy on reserve. The school has an agreement with Follett books to give requested copies of textbooks to the library.
We offer classes online but students have to drive or take a bus to one campus on the South side of the city to make copies or read the book in the library. It does not make sense that the textbook would not be available online. Especially, considering the population of students we serve.
An ‘electronic library’ would be desirable with the increase of online universities, MOOCs, etc. The students we serve want electronic resources available to them, but we cannot meet the demand due to budget cuts or lack of technical skill.
I attended the Illinois Library Association conference in 2012. A group of librarians at a public library created a web page with links to famous books out of copyright so elementary and high school students could read them. They hooked up a router in the library, and made it possible for students sitting anywhere in the library to get access to this webpage. When I heard this idea I was so excited. The students in the Reading, English 101, and English 102 courses at my community college were reading several of the same books such as Frankenstein, and we never had enough copies for students to checkout. Our budget was cut or put on hold and it made it difficult to purchase books. I immediately brought this to my supervisor who told me it would require lots of paperwork, external stakeholders, and eventually the project would be taken from me and possibly given to the IT department. My excitement dwindled and began to immediately feel defeated. Of course, recently I learned many grants/projects get snatched out of one person’s hands and placed in someone else’s hands. This can occur in any type of organization.