Democratizing the library: How digitization is making it possible – FE News | Team Cansler

A university library is arguably its most important resource. Whether it’s getting the literature they need for their studies, finding online resources, or just having a convenient place to study, many students find the library essential. However, according to the most recent data from the National Student Survey (NSS), overall student satisfaction with on-campus libraries is particularly low.

After an understandable drop in scores in 2021 – which was to be expected due to the impact of Covid-19 on student learning experiences – universities have largely responded to this feedback and quickly innovated to deliver better results. However, there is still room for improvement as universities need to continue investigating where their satisfaction scores can be improved and understand how to improve their library services for current and future students.

No “one size fits all”

The first thing universities should consider is the diversity among students in almost every field. Not everyone learns in the same way, and a method and environment that helps one student succeed may be detrimental to another. For example, a group of students might prefer to visit a physical library and take books to read. However, students with physical disabilities and distance learners often prefer an online service.

While most libraries offer an online service, the range of titles available as e-books is much smaller. Additionally, most degree programs offer only a limited selection of recommended online reading materials. While some students can afford to spend the money on these books, many choose cheaper alternatives. There are also those – typically from lower-income backgrounds – who don’t buy anything and withdraw from the course altogether.

A more just service

To ensure that all students, regardless of their background, have equal opportunities to excel, universities need to explore how their digital library services can be further developed. This isn’t a grand attempt to “reinvent the wheel,” but to provide richer library services that increase student satisfaction and achievement.

Ultimately, improving digital library services increases performance. Giving students the ability to view lectures online is crucial to this – everyone has equal access to the resources they need to be successful in their course. Additionally, a fully digitized counterpart to the physical library means that students who cannot attend the library due to disability, fear or distance have access to the exact same materials as those who can attend.

Digital Partnerships

As university budgets remain tight, decision-makers outside of the university network should look for possible solutions. Partnering with an EdTech company – like BibliU – can help universities gain in-depth, data-driven insights into student content habits, preferences, and consumption. These can then be used by the library team and university decision makers as a solid basis for continuous improvement of the service based on user feedback.

The universities can also save costs for the procurement of resources in this way. In fact, an EdTech partnership can result in a 30% to 50% reduction in cost per book per capita. A complete digital library also has the advantage that all texts are immediately available to students.

These services also give universities access to a full range of online materials while only paying for the activated licenses. This allows the facility to save money by not paying for materials that are rarely, if ever, used. In addition, these can be fully integrated into the existing online platform of the library.

resources for everyone

A fully-resourced, robust digital library is the best way to address low student satisfaction with their library’s resources. Digitizing the library removes barriers to learning such as disability or distance. In the same way, the availability of essential resources online means that students no longer have to buy expensive books – they have everything they need in one place. Finally, EdTech partnerships will provide the data library teams need to continually improve their services.

By Dave Sherwood, CEO, BibliU

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