Libraries and distance learning: Providing e-books and printed books?

As library resources shift to the digital world, Gratz is working to get books and ebooks into researchers’ hands.

By Nancy H. Nitzberg, M.A., M.S.
Director of Library Services, Gratz College

Almost everyone is aware of the recent technological and scientific advancements that have impacted our society. Such advances have provided us with a choice of ways to navigate routes to remote destinations, maps that reveal street views of our ancestors’ home towns, and even DNA analyses informing us of genealogical information from previous millennia.

Access to the internet also has provided many with opportunities to broaden their horizons by learning, including the option to enroll in accredited institutions offering programs that may not be available in some parts of the world or offered at times that make attendance impossible for working professionals or others.

Gratz College is making full use of such technological advances by providing online courses and informational resources to all of its students, whether they are in the Philadelphia area  or places like Australia, France, Turkey or Israel. Some resources are provided as course material by the instructor with the assistance of college staff. Other very pertinent resources are located in the college’s Tuttleman Library, searchable on the library’s website. This includes online journals, ebooks*, online databases, and the Encyclopaedia Judaica, all of which include the full text of scholarly articles, or citations (that can be forwarded to the librarian in order to obtain the articles through the interlibrary loan process).  

Printed books are also more highly significant in some fields of study, but despite these important informational sources, they are vulnerable with today’s emphasis on the direct access permitted by ebooks and other online resources. However, not all significant titles are available as ebooks, and may never be. 

How does Gratz College provide its faculty and students with access to books available only in print?  The process is simple. Once the book is located in the College’s online catalog, the researcher emails his/her request to the Tuttleman librarian. Once the book is secured either from Gratz’s collection or through an interlibrary loan, the librarian will mail it to the researcher.  If the mailing address is outside of the 48 contiguous states, the librarian will send a scan of the table of contents/ index and any specific pages or chapters requested. These resources are an asset to our serious scholars who do not wish their research to be limited to what is available online.

Certainly, the library will continue to expand its online selections and platforms to facilitate our researchers’ work. The renowned collection of printed books is becoming lean as multiple copies of once highly used titles are being deaccessioned and shared with the general public, charitable organizations and prisons. Some valuable duplicate or triplicate copies we no longer need are being sold to generate funds for future library expenses. A team of dedicated volunteers in addition to the librarian are working to make the Tuttleman Library’s resources, in all forms, easily available to our researchers.

Gratz College is able to compete with the numerous accredited distance learning programs that offer their researchers access to the content of printed materials that are not available electronically. The library’s print resources are recognized as significant in many fields of study, including Holocaust studies, Jewish religion, music, literature and much more.

Access to our online subscription resources is limited to our faculty and registered students.  Please inquire if you have any questions: [email protected]

*ebooks can be located on the eResources page by searching JSTOR, and in the online catalog.