Information and Interaction Needs of Distance Students: Are Academic Libraries Meeting the Challenge?
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One of the trends currently affecting academic libraries is higher education’s expanding use of online instruction and a rising number of totally online degree programs. As libraries have transitioned from primarily print holdings to a growing reliance on electronic formats, access has become more convenient for all, including distance students. However, the greater availability of e-resources can create a disconnect between the materials used by students and the institution that provides those resources, as well as the librarians who serve as instructors and guides. Libraries have struggled to close the gap by reinventing themselves as a ‘third place’ which students visit for study, assistance, collaboration, and socialization but are challenged with how to establish an identity and a presence with virtual students who are unable to utilize the physical library as a ‘third place’. This paper examines recent literature to understand what practices academic libraries are implementing in order to meet the needs of distance students.