Can the internet substitute for library searches?

Ross Koning Koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Mon Oct 7 07:43:13 EST 1996

At  9:47 AM 10/5/96 -0700, Rob Alba wrote:
>I find myself a bit concerned about a trend I am seeing more and more
>frequently on the discussion lists I subscribe to.  What I
>notice happening is students sending very basic "topical" queries to
>appropriate discussion lists in place of (I believe) the "old fashion"
>library search.
>I guess I have 4 questions:  First, have others noticed such a trend?
>Second, assuming this trend exists, do you think the value of getting
>students to use the internet for research purposes sufficiently great
>enough to risk a decrease in our future students' ability to use library
>resources efficiently/effectively?  Obviously, in the best of all worlds,
>students should be using both types of resources to produce quality work
>and meet their assignment objectives.  Thus, my third question is this:
>How does one successfully convey to students the value of using the
>internet without (mis)leading them to believe that libraries are no longer
>essential? My fouth question is tangential:  Do you think the internet
>will eventually make libraries obsolete?
>Any thoughts or discussion you have regarding these questions (or their
>inherant assumptions) would be most welcome.  I would very much like to
>to hear both instructors' and students' views on this topic and my
>Rob Alba
>Department of Botany
>The University of Georgia
>robalba at

I think the days of printed media are numbered.  It is
expensive, inefficient in terms of storage, and the paper
and ink industries are heavy polluters.  The transitional
stages are approaching and these will be difficult times.
The current electronic resources are very limited and so
people seeking information do not have the equivalents of
libraries to use electronically.  The email systems offer
contact with "experts" that allow assistance to be given
directly.  This is both a burden and a bonus to the experts
and the students alike.  Our definitions of scholarship
will be changing in a similar direction and the transition
is likely to be difficult.  Yet, I think the change is a
good way to go, especially for schools.  What school can
afford $250 for each journal each year?  It is so much
more beneficial to the students to spend that $250 on
supplies and materials for students to do some good
projects on their own.  For the price of one volume of
Planta, the school can purchase a spectrophotometer or
a good microscope.  When Planta and others go on-line
their costs will plummet and even schools can afford
access.  So I guess I like what I see happening even if
it causes our traditional thinking to be changed in a
new direction.


Ross Koning                 | Koning at
Biology Department          |
Eastern CT State University | Phone: 860-465-5327
Willimantic, CT  06226  USA | Fax: 860-465-5213

                Plant Physiology is Phun!

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