Students flock to online library

July 28, 2000

More than 1,000 students a month are signing up for the Open University's new electronic library service for distance learners.

About 8,000 have registered so far with the Open Library. It offers access to 4,000 electronic journals, links to resources that OU staff have found useful, electronic versions of core reference books and classic texts, and information on local library services.

"The internet is such a vast resource that people cannot always find information that is relevant. OU students study in their spare time; they are busy people. We wanted to offer something that is quick and easy to use, and that is of value," said Linda Wilks, OU library information manager.

Students must be registered on a distance-learning course at the OU - there are 180,000 such students plus 7,000 associate lecturers - to gain access to the journals. The Open Library adds value through its database of internet resources that are appropriate to the courses offered.

"It's set up as a portal. OU staff consult and choose sites that are relevant to the courses. Every three months, our software checks that the link is still active. That acts as a reminder for us to check that the site is still of high quality. We want to direct students to quality websites rather than having them search on Yahoo!, for example," Ms Wilks said.

An OU course on the 18th-century novel, for example, has links to sites that include a text version of Pride and Prejudice.

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