Monday, August 27, 2007

We have a wiki

But I can't share it with you ....

Carolyn Carpan has returned from her sabbatical all fired up about wikis, social networking, smart phones etc. This is great, a perfect result of a sabbatical and a good example of how productive faculty status and its attendant benefits can be for both the individual and the library.

She has started a wiki for the reference librarians as place where they can share news and solutions to frequent questions. This is a great use of wiki technology that enables web content to be created and updated in a collaborative way. Since this wiki will include information about assignments and possibly information that identifies individual instructors or users, the reference librarians have decided to keep it private. This makes sense, but i just wonder how much more powerful it could be if it took advantage of the true power of social networking software and the wisdom of the crowd and was open to everyone. Students could add their own suggestions for completing assignments and could learn from each other as well as expert searchers like the librarians.

The next wiki I am thinking about is a strategic planning wiki. Stay tuned ....

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

This is my first anniversary

It is August 7th. I started this day last year. You can tell I have been here a whole year because in a recent meeting two people told me, "the honeymoon is over." Great! Not just one, but two people. Clearly they wanted to emphasize the fact....

The year has flown by. Today I am holding an ice cream social and all-staff meeting (I get the impression everyone is happy about the former, but not so happy about the latter.) I want to thank everyone for what they have accomplished in the last year and show everyone the latest draft of the strategic plan. It still needs work, but I want everyone to see what has evolved since our retreat in May and give them an opportunity to express interest in specific projects in which they may want to participate.

We will also take a look at a series of leading indicators of activity in the library that I want to keep track of in the years to come. You will notice that use of the digital library is continuing to rise, use of the print library is rising but not as fast and is a smaller proportion of library use. I think this is another indication that the digital library is the core and the print is no longer the core library collection for our users. Our services (see the decline in traditional reference and Special Collections & Archives queries for examples) need to catch up. Instruction is rising, which is good and ILL borrowing is rising. This is good as well because it shows our users are stretching us. Fill rate has dropped, which concerns me, but training and developing some relationships should help with that. ILL lending is not a leading indicator. We lend so that we can borrow and should concentrate our efforts on the former not the latter.

You will also notice that acquisitions, cataloging, budgets, etc. don't appear here. I want us to look at outputs -- and if possible outcomes -- not inputs.

Here is a list of all the library personnel has accomplished over the last year above and beyond their normal activities. This in a year when I said I would be listening and not changing stuff! I can't thank them enough, they are an impressive bunch of people.
  1. Investigation of feasibility of licensing of Web of Science/Scopus, ArtSTOR, Science, Nature, Religion Index, Fall 2006. [Subscribed to Religion Index with Fulltext, Scopus, and ArtSTOR. Science and Nature will be delayed for consideration until later.]
  2. Replacement of off-campus access software with better solution, Winter/Spring 2006-07. [EZProxy replaced OneLog March 2007]
  3. Extension of Bookmark Café hours of service and offerings, January 2007. [On target. Extended hours and offerings started 1/17/07. Spring term was a test of the new hours and offerings.]
  4. Renovation of Bib Lab. [Touch up complete. Furniture installed March 2007]
  5. Proof of Concept development for Genius Reserve website and institutional repository, Spring 2007. [Grant proposal accepted December 2006, Wenxian and students completed work on website May 2007.]
  6. Annual reviews for Mary, Jonathan, Mid-course review for Yvonne, annual reviews for all staff [Spring 2007]
  7. Investigation and selection of open URL compliant link resolver, [Digital Library Group is incorporating this into their planning. Tentative date Spring/Summer 2007]
  8. Cataloging and Acquisitions Departments merged into one Technical Services Department. Effective April 2007.
  9. Tested 24 hour access during Spring Exam period. [Need to evaluate to decide whether to continue.]
  10. Consolidate budget from four to one budget. [Jonathan has met with Bill Short, will present budget outline to Librarians Spring 2007, implement with FY’08]
  11. Upgrade to SIRSI ILS, summer 2007. [All staff expected to complete review of enhancements, Spring 2007. Upgraded early July 2007. Incorporate changes into work procedures. Late summer 2007.]
  12. IT Help Desk Moved to 2nd floor. Videos/DVDs moved to north end of 2nd, Micro moved to 1st floor.
  13. Incorporate Reference PC’s into Novell network and consolidate printing. [Summer 2007]

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Information Seeking Behavior

Mary pointed me towards a good article in the Washington Post on July 25th about changing College libraries. The reporter particularly focused on Rhodes College. Quite rightly, because they have done a really good job of their new library and have become a model for others. The article really doesn't break new ground for readers of this blog, but it ends in an interesting way.

"Working under a giant window in the new library late last spring, Rhodes student Marjorie Schwahn of Atlanta said she spends three to four hours per day at Barret.
"Everyone's around," she says. "If you have a question, you can probably find someone in your class.""

If you have a question, you can probably find someone in your class. Heaven forbid you should ask a librarian, consult the information resources surrounding you, or seek out your instructor. No, you can find someone in your class. There is twenty million well spent.

Of course, I am being too cynical. In fact studies of information seeking behavior have pretty consistently found that people -- not just students -- prefer to consult the most convenient source of information rather than the most authoritative for example. The trick for libraries is to try and make the best source the most convenient as well.