Student Use of Library Computers: Are Desktop Computers Still Relevant in Today's Libraries?

Susan Thompson


Academic libraries have traditionally provided computers for students to access their collections and, more recently, facilitate all aspects of studying. Recent changes in technology, particularly the increased presence of mobile devices, calls into question how libraries can best provide technology support and how it might impact the use of other library services. A two-year study conducted at California State University San Marcos library analyzed student use of the computers in the library, both the library’s own desktop computers and laptops owned by students.  The results found that, despite the increased ownership of mobile technology by students, they still clearly preferred to use desktop computers in the library. It also showed that students who used computers in the library were more likely to use other library services and physical collections.

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