Original functions of Rutgers libraries have shifted to online databases


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Photo by Ana Couto |

While graduate students in certain areas of studies still use libraries to check out physical books, undergraduates increasingly use the spaces to study and socialize, while turning to online databases for reading materials.


Rutgers libraries have become primary places for students to hang out with friends and indulge in group studies, whereas their original function — as places to check out and read books — has moved to online databases. 

Erin Fitzgerald, a Rutgers Business School junior and a lab consultant at Kilmer Library, said some people still use library books because they ask for help with research on circulation desks or scanning pages of books for projects.

Graduate students and those who study certain subjects like law absolutely require books, so they often use library resources. But undergraduate students do not use books as much because everything can be found online, she said.

“It is easier to get everything online so the Rutgers libraries have the online database system. No one wants to come to the library and spend all that time to find a book. If you can Google search something, you are going to do that over asking the librarian for help, looking through the stacks,” she said.

Numerous resources like journals and articles are accessible online on the libraries online database and it is very helpful for research. They have made hundreds of online resources available to students, paid for them so that they are accessible to all, she said.

“But (the online system) can be tricky sometimes. Even classes go the library and have one of the librarians school you (on) how to search for stuff online. It just depends on what you are looking for if you know how to navigate around the searches. It depends on your technical skills,” she said.

Libraries at Rutgers provides more than just books, as they are places where people can come together in between classes with a group of friends to study, work on projects, print or just relax after class, Fitzgerald said.

“People are constantly printing. Everyone is here, studying and doing last minute work. Libraries are busiest in the middle of the day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is a good crowd around 7 to 9 p.m. too. Usually, the night owls who like to study and do work at night. We, consultants, are on until midnight,” she said.

Kasey Shneiderovsky, a School of Engineering sophomore and work-study employee at the circulation desk at Kilmer Library, said students tend to get as many as 10 books, sometimes more, every time they are doing an in-depth research paper. Ph.D. students and graduate students visit libraries to get books often. Students also check out the recreational reading section offered by KiImer library frequently.

“We also have a reference desk. So a lot of kids use the internet for research but when they get stuck and they cannot access an article, they come into the library to talk to someone about how to use the database to get the resources they need. So internet does not bring down the amount of students because they still come in for help,” she said.

Online tools are convenient as long as students know how to use them. Students can find articles or books, order them from another library and then have them sent to Rutgers libraries. Computers in the library are also equipped with student software, Shneiderovsky said.

“Recently I have been going (to the library) every day until two in the morning when they close. I don’t really use the books. I just go there for the quiet environment and to meet up my friends there. They have areas where you are able to collaborate,” said Camila Mejia, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.

Libraries have a lot of computers which allow students to print for classes. There are rooms for group study where one could go with friends. Libraries are open until late in the night, which gives students enough time to finish off their work, she said.

The libraries have a couple of laptops they lend out to students, but if they had more such rental services, it would be a lot more useful. Swiping a book out like in a vending machine instead of going to the front desk every time you need a book would make it more convenient, he said.

“I usually come here to relax, sometimes use the computer. For Livingston, it is normally to use the leisure books. They have computers, they have leisure books. That’s pretty much everything you want,” said Jonathan Xiong, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.


Anushtha Mittal is a first-year student in the Rutgers Business School. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.


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