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Are College Libraries About to Become Bookless?

Thanks to the electronic book revolution, in the next decade, we could see the end of centralized campus libraries with hardbound texts.


The number of colleges using electronic textbooks available to students is on the rise. But what about the rest of the books on campus—the millions of volumes stored in the library? It turns out the digital text revolution is beginning to turn college libraries into places that no longer stock physical books.

As Time reports, the engineering libraries at Kansas State University, Stanford and the University of Texas are almost completely book-free. And now at Drexel University in Philadelphia, the new Library Learning Terrace, a 3,000 square foot residence hall-based space that opened in June, there are no books at all.

According to Danuta Nitecki, the dean of libraries at Drexel, the terrace is book-free since the role of libraries is changing. "We don't just house books, we house learning," she says. That means defining "a new kind of library environment," one that's decentralized across the campus. Indeed, the space is more like a study lounge. There are cozy chairs, movable tables for study groups meetings and gigantic whiteboards. And, since Drexel already has 170 million electronic books, journals or other academic material in their collection, all students need to do to access them is get online. If they don't know exactly what research source they should be looking for, librarians will be staffing the space, bringing their expertise to the students.


The space only fits 75 students, so its not like the library at Drexel is going to completely disappear this year, but this does signal the direction college libraries as a whole are probably heading. It's expensive for universities to house and maintain ever-growing hardback book collections, and a generation raised with the internet—with information at their fingertips—is going to increasingly want to access library collections online.

On one hand, I can see plenty of benefits to moving college library collections completely online. If, for example, you're a student working on a research paper, you never have to worry about the book you need being checked out by one of your peers since you can access a digital copy at any time. And if you're a procrastinator working on that paper at 2 a.m. the night before it's due and you discover you need a new source, you'd be able to check out the campus library collection even if the physical building is closed.

But, I also fondly remember the time I spent in the library when I was in college. Sure, it was incredibly frustrating to find out that someone else had just checked out the exact book I wanted. However, since the books were organized by subject, just by examining adjacent titles on the shelf, I'd often discover another source that I hadn't previously known existed, or hadn't thought about using. And, while walking through the stacks, I'd also often come across a title or subject that seemed intriguing, so I'd check the book out and read up on something new.

Of course, enabling that kind of discovery is easily addressed if campus libraries set up their search engines like Netflix or Amazon so that they recommend other titles to students. Some sort of "people who checked out this book also checked out..." thing would work well. In whatever form it takes, with the way technology is developing, students going to a central library to access hardback books is probably going to become a thing of the past within the next decade.

photo (cc) via Flickr user Joe Crawford (artlung)

Articles

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

Health

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet
Instagram / Leonardo DiCaprio

This August, the world watched as the Amazon burned. There were 30,901 individual fires that lapped at the largest rainforest in the world. While fires can occur in the dry season due to natural factors, like lightning strikes, it is believed that the widespread fires were started by loggers and farmers to clear land. Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, cites a different cause: the actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

DiCaprio wasn't accused of hanging out in the rainforest with a box of matches, however President Bolsonaro did accuse the actor of funding nonprofit organizations that allegedly set fires to raise donations.

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The Planet