You go to the Central Library to borrow a book for writing a paper. You search the computer database for the book you want then go to where the book is located. Although you go there several times, the book of your interest is not there.
You go to a librarian to ask about this situation. She says that the books are not arranged properly, so you should try and find the book on the book list. You may wonder if you can find the book among thousands of book names.
At this point, you are a little annoyed but you have to write a paper, and you cannot help it. You ask the librarian again and she says it is a lost book. You inevitably go to the Computer Center to use the computer for writing a paper.
You do not know whether the monitor is working properly or not, because the monitor does not operate. After you move around several computers, you finally take a seat and search for your information. As soon as you have found your information, you sigh, oh, my God! There is no word program.
Being desperate, you give up doing your assignment. At last, you use the Internet and then hand in your assignment that is similar to the information that you found on the Internet. You finally made it, but cannot help reproaching the library.
The next day, after hearing the news that the new books have finally arrived, you go to the library but the book that you want is still not there. Doesn’t the school have to purchase more copies of popular books since the library has only a few of them to distribute to students? You are really discouraged.
This story is an experience of the UOS student. The Central Library tries to improve the quality of service, but several problems still remain. We can find what the problems are and try to think how to solve them.
The problems can be divided into big four categories such as the reading materials’ inattentive book care, the careless and disturbing attitude of students in the reading room on the third floor, the problems with the Computer Center on the fourth floor, and the overall lack of books.
1. Book management
Book management can be thought of in three ways. The first thing is book arrangement; the second is the student demand for new books, and finally the abundance of fantasy novels. The UOS invests 1,800,000,000 won every year in the Central Library. Approximately 1,200,000,000 won of our 1,800,000,000 won is used to purchase books. Although a big portion of the money is used to buy books, the arrangement of books is not good.
Many books can’t be located where they are supposed be by the list. Some returned a few days ago have not yet been arranged in their proper locations. The librarian said that they have a lack of managing people. However, they have no plan for increasing work force. Under these circumstances, students’ complaints will surely increase.
The next problem is the list of purchased books. The Central Library buys new books every week. Students and professors request these books. The books requested are almost 30-40 but only 10-15 books are purchased. The others are rejected because they are not appropriate to the university library because they are mainly heroic and fantasy novels.
Another reason is that they already exist. Doesn’t the fact that existing books are requested again and again mean that more of these books are necessary for students? According to this fact, isn’t it appropriate to purchase existing books more? Let’s look at the book list.
We need to think about how books are appropriate for study. We frequently hear complaints that the reference has a small number of English-Korean or English dictionaries. Compared with other language dictionaries, English dictionaries are very few.
On the other hand, the library has 175 fantasy novels and 45 heroic novels or 7% of all Korean novels. Compared with the 135 German novels, this number is very high. Last year, we wrote an article about a person who read so many books at the UOS titled ‘UOS Guinness’.
He read 239 books and half of them were fantasy novels. According to this numerical value, we cannot assume that most of the students read fantasy novels, but regardless it, this cannot be seen as positive. This is not an encouraging matter.
Of course, other universities are in a similar situation. Seoul National University announced its borrowed book list last year on 18 May in which the top of 50 books included fantasy, heroic, and general novels accounted for 27 of its 50 books (54%) selected. This number is much higher than 36% for last year. On the other hand, the liberal arts books selected were 16 (32%) and major books selected were 6 (12%).
2. The Lack of Students’ Consciencious Attitude
Most of students use the third floor, reading room to study. When exam period is coming, groups of students go there. However, the third floor is so crowded that we cannot see if it is really the library or some busy market place. Students go there to study but some of them are chattering on the lobby and inside the study room while cellular phones are ringing here and there.
Professor Ahn Chul-won, the head of library, said that he even thought of using an electric wave circuit breaker to stop phones from ringing. It is illegal to use it but he still thinks about using it. The next is cleaning up the library. Especially on weekends, there are no cleaners. But many students go to the library on weekends so the library is really messy then.
There are thrown-away newspapers, wastes scattered around the wastebaskets, plastic papers inside the reading rooms and cigarette butts on the smoking room floors. Another problem is the shortage of reading room seats. A lot of students would agree with this matter. Many students take seats and do not study.
There have been many attempts to prevent this, but in the end, this problem comes to the matter of the students’ conscience. This cannot be solved unless the students themselves eliminate this habit.
3. Computer Center
Our school library has 63 computers, 25 TV sets that are accessable to foreign broadcasts, 5,971 videos, 730 CD-ROMs, 2,016 tapes and 10 recorders for language study, the laptop corner, computers with scanner and the synthetic sound system capable of accomodating 80 people.
Then what do the students feel about the Computer Center? Probably, many of our school students have had the following experience. You go to PC room to write a paper but there are no empty seats. The first thing you have to do at the Computer Center is that you take off your shoes even though it makes you tired.
When you take a seat at a computer, there are no word programs like ‘MS Word’ or ‘Hangul 97’. Some of the computers have word programs but many students usually use them for extremely long periods of time. You give up writing your paper and then you surf the Internet. You want to listen to music but there are not enough headsets available.
While using a computer, students not only read articles but also listen to music, watch films or practice for listening tests. You are not satisfied with using the computer but it is so annoying to change PC rooms, at last you stay there killing time.
How many students know about the recorders? The Computer Center has only ten recorders so students do not know them. If students want to listen to their tapes, they have to wait for a long time to use a machine. Some of machines are out of order. There is soundproofing to block the noise but it is not effective.
If someone reads a script a little loudly, the others cannot listen to their tapes. However, the machines are aimed for listening and speaking so we can not blame students for making excessive noise. With this situation, a vicious circle arises.
It is also helpful to listen to foreign broadcasts to study foreign languages. Our school has 25 satellite TV sets, but students who enjoy movies usually use most of them. Of course, seeing movies is a good way to ease stress.
Don’t you think it is a little strange that some students who are willing to watch satellite TV cannot watch it because of the students who are watching movies? Moreover, students want to watch diverse TV broadcasts but there are only a few channels like BBC, ARIRANG, and DW.
Another problem is that many students do not know about the Computer Center. To say nothing of freshmen, most seniors do not know that the Computer Center has a laptop corner and scanners. Choe Mi-yeon, Sophomore, Dept of English Lang. & Lit. said, “I did not know the Computer Center has scanners. From now on, I will not go to a PC room to scan pictures but to the Computer Center.”
4. The Comparison with Other Universities
When you think about the library, what come across your mind? It’s the books. Then do you know how many books are in the UOS library? We have 420,000 separate volumes and 1,400 magazines. Yonsei University, so called prestigious university, has 1,300,000 separate volumes and 11,000 magazines and Kyunghee University has 720,000 separate volumes and 5,300 magazines. Chung-ang University, which has a smaller library than ours, has 800,000 separate volumes and 4,000 magazines.
Of course, the sizes of the schools are different and each school has a different number of students. But compared with other universities, separate volumes are 2 or 3 times more and magazines are 3 to 9 times more than ours. Maybe you have the following questions. Do these universities have more books than ours because of contributing alumni associations, rich foundations or longer histories?
These may be the reasons why they have more books. But don’t you think that the UOS has to invest in the Central Library? The total budget of school is 1,400,000,000 won and the budget for Central Library is only 180,000,000 won (3.57%) of the total budget of school. Generally, the university with many books is regarded as a ‘prestigious’ school.
It can also be the standard for a leading university. That’s why more money is needed. Regardless of these things, our school will continue to lack books and students will always have difficulties in finding and borrowing essential books.