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  • Anna Hanstveit

Books remain resilient in digital era, according to librarian

Warren Library located in the heart of PBA's campus

The internet is increasingly becoming a central aspect of our lives, affecting not only individuals but also libraries. Since 1989, when Anthony Verdesca began his career as a librarian, significant transformations have occurred. Before the internet, libraries were the primary source of information, housing books, magazines and articles.

Now, information is readily accessible everywhere.

When Verdesca started working in libraries the internet was beginning to emerge.

“When the graphical user interface came, it changed everything. In the beginning, they had the DOS screen. They had images, but you could not see images because the dos screen was limited,” said Verdesca. “Now everything is speeder, easier and more convenient than ever before."

Warren Library was initially established in 2007, serving as a hub for students to access information, complete homework, read books and seek assistance.

“I wanted to be a reference librarian because I love the idea of helping people, students, the younger generation and professors, with all the questions they may have,” Verdesca said.

The Warren Library has 134,333 print books for the students, spanning various genres from sports to science to fantasy. The library accommodates 647 students, offers 127 computers and provides 26 study rooms. Situated at the heart of Palm Beach Atlantic University, it is accessible to all students.

“I like this library a lot. Everything here is very up-to-date and clean. I use it for everything – to do homework, read books or hang out with friends,” said Richard Humble, a student library assistant.

However, in this increasingly digital world, the question arises of whether or not libraries still carry much significance.

“Students have a thousand libraries on their phones,” said David Athey, an English professor at PBA.

This shift in accessibility has led to changes in how students use libraries.

“It becomes more of a study hall,” said Verdesca.

Before, when someone had a question, they went to the reference librarian who helped them find information, books and articles. Nowadays, the internet is often the first stop for information.

“If I need to know something right now, I will probably go to the internet,” admitted Humble.

This change in behavior is reflected in a Sage Report, which surveyed nearly 600 students in the U.S., U.K. and Canada. The report indicates that 35% of students have used the library website and 63% use Google to conduct research, while only 10% try the library first. And, only 27% of those students had set foot in the library itself.

The majority of Athey’s students said that they preferred the convenience of using their phones. But many also loved the sensory experience of reading printed books, especially older books.

Students often use the internet because the accessibility to information is simply faster. Humble likes to read books, but since it is quicker to search on the internet, he retains and learns more by doing that instead of using the library.

“A printed book is devoid of flashing lights, beeping notifications or other distractions. It’s just you, the words and the interplay of the mind and soul -- It's beyond mechanical and it's beautiful," Athey added.

Studies done by WordsRated show that people learn more when they read a print book instead of reading on a screen.

“Indications show that screen reading decreases attention span for all of us, and it doesn’t lean itself to reflection and meditation,” said Anthony. "Watching television is not the same as reading from a book. When you see the movie, your brain is not really working as much."

Today, students often opt for watching movies over reading books. According to a report from WordsRated titled “Reading vs. Watching TV,” reading requires language processing, understanding meaning and critical thinking, while watching television requires less cognitive involvement. Television might offer an overview of a topic, but gaining a deeper understanding is typically best achieved through reading.

Athey believes that for some, books may eventually be replaced by the Internet.

“For others, a well-stocked library or any room filled with shelves and books is akin to a glimpse of a heavenly mansion,” he added.

Verdesca shared a similar sentiment, confident that libraries and books will continue to endure.

“The difference between the books and the internet is that books never change – the story is always the same and therefore, books will always be here,” he said.

By Anna Hanstveit

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