The purpose of this paper is to quantify recent changes in students' use of laptops in one academic library and to consider the potential role of new high‐tech library spaces on laptop use.
Instead of relying on standard library exit and entrance counts, this study was based on brief, structured observations of library spaces, including counts of laptop use. By conducting such observations over regular intervals in both new and pre‐existing library spaces, the authors were able to observe changes in laptop use across both time and type of library space.
The growth in laptop use dramatically exceeded expectations: 28 percent of students used laptops in existing spaces in 2005, while 62 percent of students used laptops in the same spaces in 2008. While a new, adjoining high‐tech space also had high laptop use, the opening of this new space coincided with growth in both laptop use and overall student presence in the pre‐existing library spaces. In addition, the paper posits a variety of potential causes for these changes, including available technology and hardware, university‐wide policy, and student behavior.
The changing use of laptops in libraries is important for administrative decision making at both the library and institutional level, including decisions about facilities, technology infrastructure and support, and security.
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