The Internet was never meant to substitute the Library. They are supposed to complement each other with the internet as a tool to aid library searches. As the world ascends to technological innovation, trends in education and research are changing constantly.
In the 21st century, hard copies of books are overshadowed by the growth and seamless access to electronic books (eBooks) that are accessible worldwide. The promise and direction of eReaders is also considered one of the biggest breakthroughs accessing literature. Students and educators access digital copies of books and journal articles via their smartphones and tablets. Indeed, eBooks and digital prints have permeated higher education institutions.
eBooks are fast replacing traditional modes of accessing information but is this trend really rendering libraries and bookstores obsolete?
Advantages of Library Research
Yes, the Internet houses massive amounts of quality information that is available at your fingertips 24/7. And if you are careful and critical in sifting through these data, you can enrich your faculty of knowledge and empower yourself in many ways.
However, the Web does not have a monopoly of information. It is not the only place to find credible and published research data. You have your public or college libraries open and available for you to visit at your convenience. To a college or post-graduate student doing advanced research, the library is a go-to vital source of information. Presenting students with a range of advantages, it is easy to see how libraries continue to be indispensable.
Academic libraries worldwide report that the utility of eBooks is equal to or greater than that of the printed books. Reading print is ingrained in our nature, reassuring that there will always be a need for libraries. People always go back to reading a book. In fact, the survey says 80% of those who buy electronic copies of books end up buying the printed version. Students and readers, in general, prefer the portability of books. And if you ask an avid bookworm, there is that inexplicable joy in actually touching, holding, and reading one.
Whether the online research or the library is the better and more credible source of data is still a subject of heated debates. While both have their pros and cons, we take a stand: library research remains to be an effective research method–and for all the right reasons. Here are ten of them:
1. You cannot find everything on the Internet.
The tons of useful information on the web often leads to the presumption that you can find everything you need online. Contrary to popular belief, the Internet does not have everything. There are published materials that you can easily find using standard search engines. However, access may not be free. Majority of scientific journals on the Internet require subscription services. To access these websites and download the materials available, you need to enter your credit card information and hit subscribe.
If that doesn’t sound reasonable to you, you have one good alternative: your school or local library. Proprietary resources are purchased by the library to give students access to information they need for research and for class. Most probably, the library already has a subscription so you can access the services for free!
2. Internet information isn’t organized.
The Internet does not have a system of cataloging and organization of all the resources on there. Sifting through so much information can be overwhelming. Searching through the Internet is similar to finding a material in an unclassified catalog.
Did you know that when you search something on a search engine, you are only utilizing a tiny part of the entire Internet? Search results may not be relevant to what you need. A single word search might get you 1.5 million web pages. To find what you are looking for, you actually need to organize your search keywords and formulate very specific questions to limit your search. Not so seamless, is it?
Do not waste your time digging into so much pile of information which will lead to frustration and confusion. Use library resources that have all information systematically organized and ready for your consumption.
3. Quality control does not exist on the Internet.
There is no doubt that we need the Internet. It is central to research and development, especially in the academic world. However, it is also filled with nonsensical information that can create confusion among users who are mainly students.
Information is dumped into the system without being actively filtered to create a safe space for students. Open Source information is very common on the Internet which makes misinformation is prevalent. The enormous amount of information also makes it difficult to keep quality in check. Worse, private data are not secured and may be accessed by various social media sites.
While quality control does not exist on the Internet, the library offers guarantees the opposite. Libraries operate on a process that keeps all materials are organized. The books are in good condition too.
4. The proper citation can be a challenge.
In writing an academic paper, a citation is required. Failure to properly attribute your sources can get you in hot water, as no academe tolerates plagiarism. It is a no-brainer that when you use information from the Internet you must cite them as your source. This becomes a problem with Internet searches because the web pages you take information from do not always include the information you need for citation. Moreover, the information you gathered can change overnight rendering it and your source inaccurate or false.
When you opt for library research, resources from the library or library databases have complete documentation. This makes it easier to cite the source correctly and completely. This is how to cite the Internet:
- Author’s name (if known)
- The full title of the document in quotation marks
- Title of complete work if applicable (in italics)
- Date of publication of last revision (if available)
- Full URL address (HTTP) enclosed within angle brackets
- Date of the visit in parenthesis
5. Library online resources are accessible 24/7.
Local and college libraries have web pages where you can access online databases anytime. These are available to all 24 hours a day 7 days a week. You may be able to access the library’s collection via your student login or your University or College ID. But do not mistake library online resources for online research.
Library database is your virtual library. It is for you to easily access literature and resources you suddenly need while pulling an all-nighter. This remote library access is a tool that has helped many students. Most importantly, the articles and books found online, are available in printed copies in the library.
6. You’re paying library fees in school so, use it.
The public library is considered a free go-to place for research–but as with any establishment, there is money involved in building and maintaining it. The same principle applies to your school library: your school miscellaneous fees typically include library fees. This means the resources are available in your library because you paid for them. Put your money to good use by using your library to access scholarly journals, books, and other print materials that are within your reach.
7. Librarians and staff will assist you.
The library has real, live, and friendly people that are ready to help you out with your research needs. They have the training and the knowledge to assist you in locating the book or the magazine you’re looking for. You may contact librarians in person, over the telephone, via chat, or through emails.
You will save time when you accept and seek out assistance at the beginning of your research. Ask for assistance. With the work they do, librarians may well be the unsung heroes of our modern world.
8. Libraries let you access full-text eBooks and journals.
E-books and online journals are reliable sources of academic paper and research. These are full-text and searchable literature available through your library. They are available through the online catalog and may be accessed through the online databases.
9. You can do archival research in the library.
In the argument between online or library research being the better research method, archival research draws the line. New materials may or may not be available on the Internet; time or timing is a factor for sharing or uploading critical information. Similarly, there is no guarantee that pioneer research data that date back at least 10 t0 15 years are readily available.
Luckily, the library contains older materials. Archival research is a useful tool in academic research which aims to establish pedagogy or trends in a certain topic. Regardless of the search, you are doing, be it materials from World War I or the Crusades, the library is your best option.
10. Library wins.
The library is still at the center of the learning process even amidst the advancements and innovations in information access. The Internet is great, but it is a weak substitute for what a library can offer. For someone who researches, there is simply nothing like reading a book and finding information in a room where heap after heap of sources (that you can actually touch) surround you.
Many say the obsolescence of the library is upon us but there is little doubt that the world’s biggest libraries will continue to live on. Every generation needs to preserve its institutional value.