By Nisean Lorde
Students hoping to pick up some reading material in the campus library this year may find themselves waiting in a long line.
Book loans at the library last month were up more than 12 per cent since last September, and 74 per cent since September 1999.
Chief Librarian Cathy Matthews is unsure why book loans have increased so sharply over the past three years. She said one reason might be an effort by the library to reach students, and to make books easier to find using electronic databases.
“Maybe that is introducing students to the library in a way that lets them know we have the kind of things here that can help them,” she said.
The increase in electronic information available has not lessened the demand for books, Matthews added.
“No matter how much is available electronically, books are still a very good way of packaging certain kinds of information in a portable format.”
“Some students find school books too expensive, and decide to check out a book from the library instead of digging into their pockets for cash,” said Zebi Mirza, a first-year radio and television arts student.
“More people want to rely on library books because most students have a low budget and they would rather get a book from the library instead of buying them.”
The supply of books in the library has not grown at the same pace as the skyrocketing demand over the past three years. In 1999 the library’s total collection was 495,394 books. This year, the number has risen 8 per cent, to 536,001.
Matthews said the heightened demand has not led to book shortages, but she thinks it may help increase funding to the library, which last year was ranked dead last in term’s of library holding per student by Maclean’s magazine.
“It makes a good case for it,” she said. “My long term objective is to strengthen the library budget, and to be able to support student learning, and faculty research and all those things that are part of being a mature university.”
Last year the library added 18,000 new books, and Matthews said there were problems finding enough space for them all.
“We’re getting extremely tight on the shelves, so finding room to put more books is a bit of a problem,” she said.
Matthews said the increases in library usage show how Ryerson is becoming a more academically-oriented university.
“That’s just part of the evolution of Ryerson and its library,” she said.