Gordon B. Olson Library celebrating 20th anniversary this week

A lot has changed in 20 years but Minot State University’s Gordon B. Olson Library is still helping students and professors conduct research.

“It’s kind of an exciting time to be a librarian,” said library director Stephen Banister, who said libraries make use of technology in different ways than they did when he started his career back in the 1990s.

The Olson Library celebrated two decades with an open house on Tuesday. Students were studying at traditional study carrels but also utilizing computers and laptops.

“It’s an evolution,” said Banister. “The technology is growing quickly.”

The library will likely undergo a remodel in the next few years to provide an information/learning commons that Banister describes as a confluence of new technologies. The remodeled library will provide open areas that are easier for students to do group projects in and provide spaces for them to work collaboratively using laptop computers or tablets. They will also be more able to contact a reference librarian via chat to ask questions without going to the reference desk.

“That is what students are looking for,” said Banister. “They want that instantaneous access to information.”

Banister said traditional print and books will always be in the library but more and more is available electronically.

Most research articles and journals are available online, for instance, he said. Academic publishers are slower than publishers of popular fiction to move to an electronic book format but Banister anticipates that eventually more academic books will be available on tablet computers or an e-reader. Currently the library is still ordering predominantly print books but is hoping to make more of a transition to the e-book format. Banister said his librarians also instruct students on how to use databases and other tools.

The library is open to members of the public as well as students. Banister said non-students can purchase a library card at the Olson Library for $15 per year, which he thinks is a bargain. Members of the public may also conduct research at the library during the 89 hours per week the library is open.

Banister said he went into the field in the early 1990s because he thought it would be exciting to be part of the changing profession. “It’s a real challenge and an opportunity,” he said.