Check out the reach of ASU's library system

By

Marshall Terrill

ASU students, faculty and staff accessed the school’s library website last year from 155 of the world’s 195 nations, according to newly released numbers that prompted University Librarian Jim O’Donnell to repeat his mantra, “The sun never sets on the ASU Library.”

“It isn’t just that we’re open 24/7,” O’Donnell said. “But those numbers also remind us that we’re open in 24 time zones.”

Library administrators learned of the school’s reach by tracking ASU-authenticated users in the last academic year through an IP address search.

O’Donnell said he thinks most users are international Sun Devils who visit their home countries during breaks, but want to stay connected.

Maya Meng, a Thunderbird School of Global Management graduate student from Zhengzhou, China, said she has used the site from her home country to read finance textbooks and classics such as “The Intelligent Investor.”

“I find many of these books helpful in my studies,” she said.

Mirna Lattouf, a religious studies professor in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, said the site helps keep her in touch with ASU while visiting including Europe, South America and the Middle East.

“When I am teaching for a Study Abroad class in another country, I do connect with ASU to stay up on events, issues and future plans,” Lattouf said. “When traveling for personal pleasure, I do the same as well.”

The site offers ASU news and events, a database of scholarly papers and articles, approximately 70,500 videos, 100,000 maps, and more than 1 million e-books.

“One of the functions of a university library is to be the oxygen you breathe for the four years you’re with us,” O’Donnell said. “We make these riches available because creativity and imagination are not to be bounded.”

Another contributing factor is likely ASU Online, which has hundreds of international students among its nearly 24,000 enrollees from nations including Canada, Great Britain, Mexico, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Vietnam. 

Materja Klaric, an ASU Online student from Slovenia, graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She said she used the site at least once a week.

“I mainly used ASU Library, mostly for research and papers and with almost every course, and to look for topics of personal interest,” Klaric said. “And yes, it was helpful.”

In harder to reach countries like Tonga, Vanuatu and Micronesia, ASU Libraries has partnered with ASU assistant professor Laura Hosman in curating content for her portable, solar-powered, Wi-Fi digital library devices called SolarSPELL, which stands for Solar Powered Educational Learning Library.

The device, which is small enough to fit into a backpack, is helping to expand access to education and technology in remote places around the world with limited electricity and internet.

While the digital revolution has transformed the way students learn, study and consume information — the library is expected to see 6.3 million page visitors this year — traditional pedestrian traffic remains high.

The ASU physical library system greeted more than 3 million visitors across its campuses in 2016.