Is it just me or are university libraries' books useless?

  • Thread starter flyingpig
  • Start date
2,556
1
All the Math and Science texts in my library are useless. That is to say outdated. I don't think I have met a single person who even uses old dusty unrelated books, the textbook is more than enough.

My school (according to the librarian) spends more than a million dollars (that's the typical tuition fee of 200 students) on just "library materials", are those "library materials" only for art students for their history research papers?

Most "books" are now electronic and I can just find a pdf on torrent or fileshare. So this is another "off topic" comment, are physical books useless when we have electronic copies already? It saves trees right?
 
17,577
7,226
I used my university library maybe 4-5 times my entire time there.
 
2,556
1
No I mean everyone uses the library, I mean the books in the libraries. They are pretty much useless. I have never seen people even go up to the counter and checking out books
 
Hmmmm... good point...

edit: I'm not sure that were saving the environent by using rapidly replaced tablets and readers, and their batteries. I'd need to see a study of that.
 

russ_watters

Mentor
18,993
5,146
All the Math and Science texts in my library are useless. That is to say outdated.
I'm not sure math has changed much in the past few decades...
 

Pengwuino

Gold Member
4,854
14
I used my university library maybe 4-5 times my entire time there.
I think I used my university library 4-5 times just last week.

@OP: The books arent useless in the slightest. I personally have 4 texts checked out that have to be pre 1970's. Physics hasn't changed much in the last 60 years as far as undergrads and some grad students are concerned.

Many texts have not been digitized either. Plus it's like asking why should dvd's be sold when I could just pirate them off the internet? Because not everyone steals everything they use.

Furthermore... many people can't stare at a computer to read a book and especially in a major like physics, the ability to physically flip back and forth between pages is necessary.
 
I think I used my university library 4-5 times just last week.

@OP: The books arent useless in the slightest. I personally have 4 texts checked out that have to be pre 1970's. Physics hasn't changed much in the last 60 years as far as undergrads and some grad students are concerned.

Many texts have not been digitized either. Plus it's like asking why should dvd's be sold when I could just pirate them off the internet? Because not everyone steals everything they use.

Furthermore... many people can't stare at a computer to read a book and especially in a major like physics, the ability to physically flip back and forth between pages is necessary.
E-Ink, and OLEDs are changing that... and the only way to get more books digitized is demand.

edit: That said... I'd hate to read Gravitation on my Kindle...
 

Pengwuino

Gold Member
4,854
14
E-Ink, and OLEDs are changing that... and the only way to get more books digitized is demand.

edit: That said... I'd hate to read Gravitation on my Kindle...
Yes, they sure are.

Also, we must remember, PHYSICAL BOOKS MAKE US LOOK SMART!!! :biggrin:

I was walken down the hallway and i accidentally bumped into someone and they said "hey dumby, watch where you going". So I smashed his face in with my mathematical physics text. Whos the dumby now?
 
2,556
1
I'm not sure math has changed much in the past few decades...
No what I meant was that they are poorly written. My university has texts at the level of "Math for dummies" kind of books
 
2,556
1
Yes, they sure are.

Also, we must remember, PHYSICAL BOOKS MAKE US LOOK SMART!!! :biggrin:

I was walken down the hallway and i accidentally bumped into someone and they said "hey dumby, watch where you going". So I smashed his face in with my mathematical physics text. Whos the dumby now?
AND then what happened?
 
Yes, they sure are.

Also, we must remember, PHYSICAL BOOKS MAKE US LOOK SMART!!! :biggrin:

I was walken down the hallway and i accidentally bumped into someone and they said "hey dumby, watch where you going". So I smashed his face in with my mathematical physics text. Whos the dumby now?
:rofl:

Ha!
 

Pythagorean

Gold Member
4,133
253
On campus, we have the main library (mostly useless), but we also have two research libraries: one for physics, one for biosciences. The research libraries are the place to go.
 

MATLABdude

Science Advisor
1,646
4
A significant portion of that million dollars probably goes into (electronic) journal access--it's crazy expensive to be on the cutting edge, but that's what you need to have a research-intensive university. I don't know how much the acquisitions department spends on new volumes and books, but I was delighted to find an obscure book on silicon oxide and silica growth from the 70s, the magnum opus of a Soviet scientist who still gets cited a fair bit in the field.

Textbooks (and to a lesser extent, review books / articles) are great for summarizing knowledge and getting the started in a field--the primary sources (which should be referenced in the first) are where you find the minutiae of the field, and discover the rest of the iceberg. Then again, that's mostly from a research perspective.

As for your comment about torrenting/filesharing books, no respectable educational institution in the world is going to go out and make it official policy to break copyright and not buy access or books (and not get sued), especially since they employ the same faculty and get the same grad students who write these books, papers, and articles. Most of these books and journals also tend to be very, very specialized and somewhat esoteric (for instance, the book I mentioned above)--while the authors usually aren't making any money (directly) by publishing these, you also probably won't find them on any sharing sites.
 
854
16
Yes, they sure are.

Also, we must remember, PHYSICAL BOOKS MAKE US LOOK SMART!!! :biggrin:

I was walken down the hallway and i accidentally bumped into someone and they said "hey dumby, watch where you going". So I smashed his face in with my mathematical physics text. Whos the dumby now?
A physics book made him smart too. If he was watching where he was going then how come you bumped?
 
Last edited:

Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,541
1,683
No I mean everyone uses the library, I mean the books in the libraries. They are pretty much useless. I have never seen people even go up to the counter and checking out books
I used to spend hours in university and public libraries. The books and journals I read were hugely useful, especially as supplements to laboratory reports and research.

Plus I learned many things that were not taught in class.
 
2,014
85
I think you'll find that all the books you find are useless becuase everyone has already checked out the good books.

This happened without fail at my uni on the first day of term. All the good books got checked out by a group of friends who used the reserve a book option to circulate the book between them. I know becuase I did it!


On saying that I went to the University library I think twice in years at University, a horrible opressive, depressing place that shut when you needed to use it. Then they built the Information Commons (or IC as the cool kiddies called it)http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/infocommons

Meeting rooms, group areas, silent study areas, sofas, snacks, hundreds of PC's, it even had a shower! A genuinely nice place to work at 4 in the morning.
 

Pythagorean

Gold Member
4,133
253
I used to spend hours in university and public libraries. The books and journals I read were hugely useful, especially as supplements to laboratory reports and research.

Plus I learned many things that were not taught in class.
There's a competition between the convenience of having it all in one window with hyperlinks, and the nostalgic comfort of the library furnishings.

Convenience generally wins, though. My poor back.
 
21,992
3,274
In our university, we have an extremely good library. It has practically all the math books that I could wish for.

When I was an undergrad, we had to make an assignment. And the professor wanted to popularize the library and he said that we could use books from the library. So we headed of for the library to find some books on the topic. But one of our (more ambitious) classmates had already collected all the books on the topic and checked it out herself. She didn't need that many books, but she just wanted to prevent us from using the books and getting a good grade. The library felt pretty useless then... We did have our revenge on her :biggrin:
 

Gokul43201

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
6,987
14
I've rarely spent over an hour at a time at a university library. But over the last several years, I've almost always had at least one book checked out at any given time. Long after having completed all my coursework.

I don't believe there is any legal alternative to checking out books from the library (besides buying them, and that option realistically exists only for some books), and occasionally, looking up old journal papers that are not available electronically.
 
Last edited:

Andy Resnick

Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
7,297
1,701
My school (according to the librarian) spends more than a million dollars (that's the typical tuition fee of 200 students) on just "library materials", are those "library materials" only for art students for their history research papers?
Probably not- electronic subscriptions to Journals are not free.
 

Office_Shredder

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
3,734
99
If all the books you're interested in can be found online in pdf format you simply haven't specialized enough yet
 

Dembadon

Gold Member
607
89
I've rarely checked-out books from our library; I find it to be a good studying environment, though.

However, during my first year, I did a research paper on renewable energy. One of the sections of my paper was devoted to providing a history and progression of the topic, and I obtained a great deal of information from a book that was published about 20 years ago (can't remember the title), and it wasn't in the database.

I've also yet to have any issues with inconsiderate students who check out all of the books that are reserved for a course and keep them for long periods of time. All of my professors have placed a time limit (usually a certain amount of hours) on how long each book can be checked out so that each student has the opportunity to use the materials.
 
I used to spend hours in university and public libraries. The books and journals I read were hugely useful, especially as supplements to laboratory reports and research.

Plus I learned many things that were not taught in class.
I love libraries, but at this point I'm usually reduced to bringing my own books.


Maybe you could have an e-reader program that works within a library only, and for X hours/days after? You wouldn't need to ditch books, just add MORE.
 
If all the books you're interested in can be found online in pdf format you simply haven't specialized enough yet
Correction: If all of the books you're interested in can be found legally online...


There are scans of EVERYTHING... but who wants to oohscray over authors? This is part of the problem, we can digitize faster, or we're just hurting authors of existing books.
 

Related Threads for: Is it just me or are university libraries' books useless?

Replies
11
Views
1K
Replies
1
Views
1K
Replies
27
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
21
Views
3K
Replies
42
Views
14K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
28
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
24
Views
3K
Replies
3
Views
727

Hot Threads

Recent Insights

Top