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Missouri universities’ libraries move to digital collections

February 21, 2018

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — University libraries across Missouri and Kansas are spending more of their budgets on online resources and subscriptions.

The George A. Spiva Library at Missouri Southern State University is prioritizing its space for people and computers rather than books. The library already features a coffee shop, six computer labs, a large renovated study room and reading nooks, the Joplin Globe reported .

“Those resources don’t require a lot of space, so we’re putting more financial resources into electronic access and investing less into physical items,” said James Capeci, director of the library. “Not because we don’t like them, but students love technology and want electronic access to resources 24/7.”

The trend can also be seen at Pittsburg State University, which just completed a $1.1 million project inside the Leonard H. Axe Library. The project involved moving collections of bound periodicals and a repository of government documents off-site to make room for additional tables, alcoves and rooms.

“People use library spaces differently, and we want to be a space where people can come together,” said Randy Roberts, dean of library services. “We want to provide spaces of all different kinds, instead of being a complete warehouse with no room to sit.”

Academics have voiced concerns about warehousing collections, saying a library’s value should be measured by its holdings and not its accommodations. Faculty and students at Syracuse University in New York opposed a plan for their library to ship books to a distant warehouse, and a similar rally was raised to prevent officials at Indiana University of Pennsylvania from discarding up to a third of its books.

“I’m empathetic with people who feel as though we’re losing something,” Roberts said. “But I think we’re also gaining something here as well. It’s an opportunity that students have to come together and work collaboratively, cooperatively and creatively in new spaces. There are a wide variety of things we’re trying to offer that are beneficial, with the best possible collection and the best spaces that we can offer.”

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Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, http://www.joplinglobe.com

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