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Fall 2009

Trinity Reporter Fall 2009
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21st-century Library

where bibliophile and technophile meet


by Kathy Andrews

We all know that librarians catalog books, help us find reference materials, and check out our selections at the circulation desk, but what’s the Trinity library staff doing blogging? And Tweeting?

Browse the Raether Library and Information Technology Center’s Web site (http://library.trincoll.edu) and you will find this quote from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke: “Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading!”

But while experiencing the library online is not quite the same as hunkering down in the Grand Reading Room alongside others absorbed in books, more and more faculty members and students find that it can be equally enriching. Whether people consider themselves to be bibliophiles or technophiles, the Raether Center provides multiple ways to access needed information both online and in person.

First of all, let’s make it clear that books and printed materials are still very much part of the picture—the circulating collection contains more than 38,375 linear feet (just over seven miles!) of materials. But the explosive growth in recent years has come in the electronic online collections and databases that are increasingly available to library users. Electronic and media resources in the Trinity library include more than 10,000 CDs and 5,000 DVDs and videos, and the number of electronic academic journals has increased from 11,727 in 2006 to 17,038 today—a jump of 45 percent in three years. Then there’s TOR (Trinity Online Resources)—a tool to help students and faculty members find the databases, journals, and Web sites that are most appropriate for their research—that is available 24/7 from any networked computer on campus.

And a new addition to the library’s Web site, “Learning Connections” at http://library.trincoll.edu/connections, showcases ways in which librarians collaborate with members of the faculty to help students build information-literacy skills. For example, for his First-Year Program seminar on the Mafia, John Alcorn, principal lecturer in language and culture studies, worked with Erin Valentino, research and education librarian, on activities that help students differentiate among the wide variety of information sources available on the topic. Valentino says, “This is a great way to communicate with faculty members about creative approaches to student learning and research.”

High-tech, but with an emphasis on the human side

“There is no doubt that libraries and technology are linked as never before,” says College Librarian Richard Ross. “But we still try very hard to focus on the human side and provide a comfortable and engaging physical space. Collaborations, partnerships, creative use of technology, and forward-looking planning help us provide the best mix of resources for the benefit of Trinity students and faculty.”

So, are library staff members still doing the things they have traditionally done—selecting, processing, bar-coding, cataloging, preserving, and helping locate an obscure title in the stacks? Yes! But just as often they are scrolling, clicking, blogging, developing online course guides, and Tweeting (micro-blogging via Twitter).



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