Letter To The Editor: On ‘Libraries Matter In Today’s Digital Age’

Dear Editors,

Thank you very much for including the opinion piece about the importance of libraries in our society.  It was published in the March 26 issue of The Recorder.

We, in the Elihu Burritt Library, couldn’t agree more with the content.

You said: “Libraries provide the skills and necessary knowledge in order to succeed in our democracy.

In the EB Library, we assist with traditional research, helping to identify and access printed and electronic materials. We also teach information literacy, a set of abilities that enables students to find, evaluate, use information and cite sources. Information literacy is a fundamental skill necessary for success both in and outside academia. Further, it has been shown that students who use libraries and the help of librarians have a higher rate of success while in college.

Every year, the EB Library presents an award for best student research paper. This year, two students received the award: freshman Jonathan M. Kryzanski for his paper titled Cognitive Benefits of Language Learning” and senior Helena L. Swanson for her paper titled Perceived Control and Academic Performance: The Mediating Effect of Good Nutrition. Their papers are the outcome of having good research kills.

You said: “… libraries are free of cost…”,”…if government stops funding libraries, their disappearance would affect future generations…”

Overall funding for our state colleges and universities directly affects funding for our libraries. Hence, we need to advocate within our institutions for support of libraries and the resources they provide. The EB Library strives to help students have access to the resources they need. For instance, the library works with faculty to identify and provide access to free Open Educational Resources, an alternative to costly textbooks. In addition, we purchase additional textbooks and make them available in the library for students who do not have funds for purchase books.

The importance of the EB Library is recognized by donors to the Friends of the Library fund. They consist of alumni, faculty, staff and people from the community. We are grateful for the generosity. Their support is essential to our mission of serving students.

You said: “…libraries are welcoming to all.”,”…there is no discrimination against anyone; regardless of economic status, gender, sexual orientation or race…”

Many special events are organized at the library – lectures, exhibits, poetry readings, and musical events.  The activities add a lot to a students education and sense of community. Many events provide food for the soul.

The library is a repository of the GLBTQ Archives and the Connecticut Polish American Archives, and houses the Italian Resource Center and the Confucius Institute. Materials from these sources are accessible to all.

You said: “Many often do not realize the number of resources provided at libraries, books being the minimum.”

In addition to having access to many learning technologies, computers, color printers, 3D printers and scanners, students can borrow Kindles, iPads, scientific and graphic calculators and board games. Students can also access hundreds of textbooks and course reserve materials.  Interlibrary loan services help students access materials from other libraries. Students can use these resources individually in quiet study areas or in groups in study rooms.

You said: “…libraries need to make the transition to the digital future.”

The EB Library has an extensive collection of digitized materials from our archival collections and other resources. Students also have access to thousands of academic and popular electronic journals, books and pamphlets through subscription to databases. In addition, students can borrow e-books.

You said: “Rather than being a place of boredom and outdated supplies, libraries can become a home for ideas, community and the future again.”

The EB Library administration is constantly making improvements so that students will have a quality space in which to study and research.

When a student feels reading has become a chore, they might want to join us for the Human Library. The next one will be held April 3 and 4 on the 2nd floor of the library.  

A Human Library is an event that encourages people from different backgrounds to talk together and learn from each other. Human Books are volunteers who share their stories and/or their expertise with listeners. Participants can “borrow” human books for up to 20 minutes in order to have a conversation and about the book’s (speakers) topic. These events can be a safe place to have conversations that challenge stereotypes and prejudices.


Renata Vickrey

University Archivist & Community Outreach Librarian