UTSA opens nation's first bookless library on a university campus

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>> VIDEO: "Will e-books kill hardcover book?" (CNN's "American Morning," Sept. 23, 2010 -- UTSA mention)

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(Sept. 9, 2010)--UTSA officials announced Thursday the opening of the Applied Engineering and Technology (AET) Library, the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. The 80-person capacity library, which caters to College of Sciences and College of Engineering students, is a satellite of the larger John Peace Library on the Main Campus.

Electronic research is central to the AET Library. Instead of storing printed volumes, the library offers students a rapidly growing collection of electronic resources including 425,000 e-books and 18,000 e-journal subscriptions. Skilled science and engineering librarians are available during library hours to help students who need research assistance.

UTSA's electronic library is catching on quickly with students, who are finding that the library staff is more available to assist them now that they don't have to circulate and reshelve books. Publications that students want to read also are more accessible because the online format allows many students to simultaneously access the same volume.

The trend to move higher education library collections online began in October 2000, when Kansas State University opened the Fiedler Engineering Library. The branch library's collection is completely electronic with the exception of a series of reference books and a few journals that are unavailable electronically. Earlier this year, Stanford University continued the trend when it removed all but 10,000 printed volumes from its Engineering Library.

UTSA designed its bookless library to engage students in an online format within a contemporary new space. The library features ultra-modern furniture and space age decor with 10 desktop computers, a printer, a scanner and five large LCD screens. To support student study sessions and spontaneous collaboration, the library also offers a series of group study niches and three group study rooms outfitted with whiteboards. The spaces reflect an emphasis on teamwork, communications and problem solving, skills integral to the success of professional engineers and scientists.

"As our campus becomes a national research university, it is important that we continue to create communities that engage students," said Krisellen Maloney, UTSA dean of libraries. "In this library, we encourage collaboration. We want to hear our students talking and solving problems together. This is the beginning of their training as professional engineers and scientists."

With the eLibrary open, UTSA is exploring ways to take the bookless concept even further. In the next few months, there are plans to start providing pre-loaded collections of eBooks on eReader devices such as iPad or Kindle for students to check out and take home.