The new Applied Engineering and Technology (AET) Library is no larger than a traditional campus classroom and the facility defies all traditional conceptions of what a library is or should be; there are no books, stacks, endless shelves or antiquated card catalogs here. This modern facility houses three group-study rooms, five large LCD screens, 10 desktop computers and a number of dry-erase whiteboards.

The first of its kind in the nation, UTSA’s AET Library focuses not on physical reserves, but instead on the rapidly growing world of electronic media. Opened in the spring of 2010, the futuristic library boasts a collection of more than 425,000 e-books and 18,000 e-journal subscriptions – and it is constantly growing. Furthermore, all of the library’s content can be accessed, checked-out, and subsequently renewed online – and thus from outside its premises entirely. This means all of the space in the library can be used for research and collaboration as opposed to housing books.

Despite the lack of re-shelving and volume location duties, the facility is staffed with six employees – two graduate students and four undergraduate students – whose primary concern is research assistance.

“We’re focusing on the service aspects,” Krisellen Maloney, UTSA’s Dean of Libraries, said. Furthering that aim, Maloney went on to explain that “students can request anything in the main John Peace Library (JPL) catalogue and we’ll actually go and retrieve it for them.”

Sweetening the deal even further, beginning late October or early November 2010, the facility will have a various e-book readers – such as Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad – on hand for students to download content and borrow.

Students will eventually have access via these devices to Amazon.com’s entire e-book library, which contains more than 650,000 titles.

“We’re going to be the first university to allocate part of the budget to fund e-book purchases,” Maloney said.

Officials will be monitoring the library for abuse of this privilege, and access can be revoked if required.

While the AET Library is largely an experiment in next-era library systems composition, don’t expect the JPL to go completely digital anytime soon.

“This concept works best with the sciences because the students are just interested in the information, regardless of the medium. In the arts, for example, the resolution might not be adequate for their needs” Maloney said.

Coupled with state-of-the-art study rooms and an e-library stocked with the latest research and reference materials. The facility is located on the second floor of the AET Building and is open 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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