Books aren’t going anywhere at AU’s Bender Library

Computer stations near print reference materials at American University's Bender Library.

Computer stations near print reference materials at American University’s Bender Library. The library offers 50 computer stations. American University library. Photo by Nima Padash

Even in our technologically advanced society, both American University students and professors think books are here to stay.

At AU’s Bender Library, Alyse Minter, 27, a librarian, said books will never go away, but on a recent July morning in the basement level five people were plugged in with print material nowhere in sight.

AU’s Bender Library offers 50 computers and plenty of spaces to plug in a laptop or smartphone, but it’s the permanent print and reference collection that really stands out to Minter.

“Some information is only in books,” Minter said.

Information is everywhere and people have to preserve and maintain this information, which would be hard to do on the computer, Minter continued.

Books have a kinesthetic feedback which you can not get from a computer, said Minter. Because of this, people learn better from books in her opinion.

Dr. Pilar McKay, 32, a professor of public communication at AU’s School of Communication, encourages technology in the classroom.

“I will use technology whenever I can,” McKay said.

Although many people think computers in the classroom may be a distraction, McKay disagrees. She uses and loves Twitter in class and focuses lectures around Power Point presentations and videos.

A 2011 Pew Research Center poll agreed.

“The average reader of e-books says she has read 24 books…in the past 12 months, compared with an average of 15 books by a non-e-book consumer,” the Pew report stated.

Audrey Schreiber, 21, prefers pen and paper.

“Laptops are a distraction,” said Schreiber, a rising senior at AU, noting she has seen students in class going on social media sites or texting.

Schreiber would buy online materials and print those out if it was cheaper than the book, but still prefers a hard copy.

“I feel like I learn better from paper than computer,” Schreiber said.

In a 2014 article in the journal Teacher Librarian, researcher Shannon Hyman wrote that to develop lifelong readers, students must be able to access a wide range of formats and materials.

“Children must see books as a friend and be surrounded by and immersed in print at home and at school,” Hyman wrote.

Minter agreed.

“We shouldn’t love books or hate computers, they should work together,” Minter said.