Why libraries should allow the usage of laptops and tablets

For students who are undergoing their introductory research courses, they are usually exposed to a library tour wherein they will get to be informed about the resources that they can tap for their research. In this age of technology, most students are now equipped with digital devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones to aid their studies.

Apparently, there can be situations in which such devices are deemed unusable. Why? Some libraries have rules that include banning laptops and tablets especially in the theses area.

On the lighter side, I have here 5 reasons why libraries should allow the usage of digital devices:

1. The need to break old traditions.
The fact that past researchers were able to do research even without the existence of laptops and tablets doesn’t mean that the present researchers should undergo the same hardship of gathering information. Should we allow history to repeat itself or even go back to the dinosaur age?

2. Banning digital devices does not really solve the problem of plagiarism.
No matter how much you try to control people from doing plagiarism, they will still do it if they really intend to. Do you think that a person equipped with a pen and paper will no longer plagiarize? Of course not. A person can always copy the parts of a material in scheduled batches that the librarian will not be able to notice it. Besides, the person can always write the text word for word in a cryptic way that the librarian will not be able to understand. Right?

Plagiarism already existed even before the existence of such digital devices. As technology updates at a very fast pace, it has made plagiarism to be more rampant. However, it has also made detection easier through applications such as Plagiarism Checker. Such are the cons and pros of technology.

3. Time is gold.
Although this one is self-explanatory, some digital “immigrants” and anti-technology people will still keep on arguing that people can always write instead of type even though it would be cumbersome to do the former. Apparently, this can be a considerable factor why students undergoing thesis or dissertation writing get delayed and do not finish on their expected schedule.

4. Information is a need (and at times a want).
Information is a need that should be delivered in the most efficient and effective way possible. This is a very important principle that is usually being taught to Library and Information Science students. Besides, the reason why we research is to discover more information and possibly create new knowledge. Allowing digital devices in libraries actually supports the research process.

5. Laptops and tablets are connective tools.
Technology has made it possible for everything to be interconnected. People can now easily communicate with one another through e-mail and social networking applications like Facebook and Twitter. Information are also interconnected through simple hyperlinks. A researcher with a digital device can possibly discover more related literature online by searching more about the topic that s/he got from a specific thesis paper in real-time. The researcher can also try contacting directly the author of the thesis to inquire more about the research. Lastly, these devices support the theory of connectivism.

As an educator, it’s one of our responsibilities to teach students how to do proper citation and to avoid committing plagiarism. So what are your thoughts about these? Would you allow students to use digital devices in libraries? 🙂

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