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PHCC finds library use changing with technology

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

If they could talk, books on the shelves in the Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) library would be pleading for someone to read them.

The library has about 31,000 printed books but during the past fiscal year, only 1,301 of the books were checked out, a report presented to the PHCC Board on Monday revealed.

Compared to circulation figures in past years, that is “a very low number,” said David Deal, the college’s dean of technology. He did not present past statistics for comparison purposes.

The reason for the low number of checkouts, Deal said, is that more and more students are going online to do their research and get information.

Along with printed books, PHCC’s library has nearly 200,000 electronic books, and students can access 170 full-text and bibilographic databases to do research, according to the report.

Library users in the past fiscal year made more than 25,000 connections to databases, the report shows.

The library also has nine electronic book reading devices available for checkout, Deal said.

He said he has found it “much easier” to read electronic books than regular ones. For instance, he said, he thinks it is easier to use electronic bookmarks than traditional page markers.

Deal detailed to the board how technology is permeating PHCC’s campus and students’ lives.

The college now offers 160 Internet-based courses, which equals about 22 percent of its course offerings. Deal said that in the past year, about 1,600 students were enrolled each semester in at least one online course.

Those courses generated about $3 million in tuition and state funding, he noted.

According to Deal, most “distance learning” students said they have had good experiences with online courses and would take additional ones. Many said they would consider taking an entire online degree program.

Online classes have proven popular because students can take them at any time, Deal said.

“You are getting a degree at your convenience,” and that helps people who have jobs or children to wrap their learning time around, he said.

A total of 1,134 personal computers now are on PHCC campuses and of those, 71 percent are for student use, Deal said.

Because PHCC’s computers are heavily used, and because technology is rapidly changing, the college is trying to replace desktop and notebook computers every four years, the report shows.

During the past year, Deal said, the college installed 21 personal computers in a new computer lab in the Frith Building on the main campus. Another 109 computers in the Frith, West and Walker buildings were replaced, he said.

In other technology matters, Deal said:

• “SMART Boards” have been installed in the college’s nursing and early childhood education classrooms.

Those devices are whiteboards hooked into a computer system.

A whiteboard is a modern-day blackboard on which markers are used instead of chalk.

• Two multimedia classrooms have been installed in Jefferson Plaza in uptown Martinsville as part of the “PHCC Uptown” program.

The program is designed to help local business people — particularly those who work in Martinsville’s central business district — earn degrees that will help them advance in their careers, college officials have said.

• PHCC’s website was visited by computer users about 900,000 times in the past year.

• The entire main campus now has wireless access for students’ and employees’ mobile communications devices.PHCC


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