Stanford Creates Bookless Library
It's the digital age, meaning everyone has to adjust, including the humble library. Stanford University is adapting and becoming more efficient at the same time by removing books from shelves and putting them online.
Stanford University's Engineering Library has been slowly transitioning away from dead-tree books over the last five years, moving engineering periodicals and books online. Students can access those periodicals from anywhere via the library's Web site.
Library chief Helen Josephine says that students traditionally had to search through multiple volumes of books to find a formula they needed.
"With books being digitized and available through full text search capabilities, they can find that formula quite easily," Josephine told NPR.
Five years ago the library housed 80,000 engineering books and was quickly running out of space. Since then, the librarians have decreased that number by 85 percent, down to only 10,000 books. Librarians decided which books to keep by looking at how frequently they were checked out. Most of them hadn't been checked out in five years.
That in turn has created quite an interesting phenomenon: a library with no books on many shelves.
Of course, it also makes sense to put the most used books in digital format , too. Stanford library director Michael Keller expects that soon all the books will be digitized.
"As the world turns more and more, the items that appeared in physical form in previous decades and centuries are appearing in digital form ," Keller said.
Getting rid of books obviously leaves a lot of empty space in the library, and that means the library can offer more services. Josephine says they plan to offer more workshops and one-on-one time with students.