Terman library adapts to ‘bookless’ system

Oct. 27, 2010, 2:00 a.m.

Those expecting to see a traditional library would be surprised to step into the Frederick Emmons Terman Engineering Library within the Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center. With its opening this summer, the new Terman Engineering Library, which used to be located in the Terman Engineering Center, is bringing to reality the new concept of a library — one that’s “bookless.”

In this move, the library has cut down the number of books to about 20,000 from 80,000 and increased the number of e-books to around 40,000.

Terman library adapts to ‘bookless’ system
Students study in one of the study areas at the new Terman Engineering Library (LUIS AGUILAR/The Stanford Daily).

After two months of operation, the library is generating positive responses from its student patrons.

“I study here often and I think the library is great,” said first-year Management Science and Engineering (MS&E) master’s student Luyin Zhao. “Finding the reserved books and self-checkout systems are very convenient. I can find all the accommodations I want.”

Overall, the four circulating e-readers are usually checked out; conference rooms around the library are often full with groups of students and professors. “Anyone can walk in and study only if there’s a space,” Zhao said.

Though the new library’s bustling popularity can become a problem for some, patrons of this library seem to enjoy the atmosphere, according to Helen Josephine, head librarian.

“In a sense, now you see people busy reading, but they are in the lobby of a hotel with all these activities around them,” Josephine said. “Some people really like that feeling, maybe because they can concentrate but they don’t feel alone.”

“I study here almost every day,” said first-year MS&E master’s student Kalbana Kumar. “The best thing about the library is that it’s quiet, small and always has spaces.”

The library has also made many efforts to reach out to students and faculty. Four librarians, each assigned to different departments, are working to ensure that everything is running smoothly. They update faculty on new databases, SearchWorks and other interfaces for finding information.

“We have much more interactive sessions with the school to make sure that the students are aware where the library is, what staff and resources are available,” Josephine said. After each term, the library will have statistics on library usage and check what needs to be done to improve the library.

Meanwhile, although the library is equipped with the latest technology, not many students are taking full advantages of the resources.

“I think it’s great, but I’ve used only a little part of the resources in the library,” Zhao said.

Other students such as doctoral student Jin Chang have not adjusted to the e-book system. “I love the atmosphere in Terman Library,” Chang said, “though I’m not fully comfortable with e-books and e-readers. But if that’s what the trend is, I would like to follow up with that.”

Though the library generally received positive feedback, Josephine said she continues to seek out patrons’ opinions and concerns about the new library in order to determine how best to improve its operations.

“We definitely want to keep those communications open,” said Josephine.

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