June 28, 2007
Working Together and Working with Others
In considering the role of libraries in the emergent environment and the need to consider new models for library service, he writes:
Libraries cannot transform themselves structurally through magic. But through an open and deep application of their immense expertise, libraries can beneficially impact significant and important projects, and through the act of changing others, they will change themselves.
Expertise - in the creation of information services and products, the design of information skills instruction, the application of metadata, and the design of systems allowing the long-term preservation of digital information - is part of what the academic library offers to potential campus partners, including classroom faculty, IT managers, student services programs, enterprise academic systems, and more. The future of libraries, he concludes, lies "in working with others."
As we consider new service models at the University of Illinois, and ways in which we can define library service programs attuned to the needs of a host of user groups (both traditional and emergent), we will be well advised to take Brantley's vision of the future to heart.
June 18, 2007
Two on Rethinking Reference
Two recent articles worth reading as we continue discussions both of innovative approaches to reference service, and of how to make the most effective use of faculty and staff in support of traditional reference service models.
In the May 2007 issue of College & Research Libraries, Marianne Stowell Bracke, et al. (Arizona) describe the innovative approach the University of Arizona Libraries took in assessing their face-to-face reference service, and making data-driven decisions about staffing models and schedules.
In the Summer 2007 issue of Reference & User Services Quarterly, Ben Wagner and Cynthia Tysick (SUNY-Buffalo) discuss the adoption of a "field librarian" model to reference and outreach services (see also Virginia Tech, Michigan, and others). Several UIUC librarians have adopted some version of this approach over the past couple of years, including Cindy Ingold, Paula Carns, Jing Liao, and Joe Zumalt, and the current article enumerates some basic guidelines for others interested in moving toward this increasingly common model for face-to-face reference service in the digital age.
Perhaps not everyone's idea of "beach reading," but very timely for us (and for academic libraries everywhere) as we continue to explore the issue of how to provide the best range of face-to-face library services in an environment defined by emergent user behavior.
Bracke, M. S., et al. (2007). Finding information in a new landscape: Developing new service and staffing models for mediated information services. College & Research Libraries, 68 (3), 248-267.
Wagner, A. B., & Tysick, C. (2007). Onsite reference and instruction services: Setting up shop where our patrons live. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 46 (4), 60-65
June 14, 2007
Supporting Students from the Start
In this week's Chronicle of Higher Education, George Kuh (Indiana University) provides some guidelines on how to help students achieve academic success based on the data collected through the National Survey of Student Engagement. His first suggestion: "teach first-year students as early as possible how to use college resources effectively." Kuh does not highlight the role that libraries have in meeting this mandate, but, at Illinois (as elsewhere), we are definitely contributing to this critical learning goal.
At UIUC, librarians housed both in departmental libraries and the Undergraduate Library provide direct instruction both to first-year students and to graduate assistants who are active as instructors of first-year courses. Faculty aligned with the Office of Information Literacy and Instruction collaborate with colleagues in Academic Advising, and there are plans to enhance the instructional collaboration between the Undergraduate Library and the Residence Hall Libraries. Finally (because I could go on at length about the ways the Library contributes to the goal of first-year student education and support), we should note the enhanced commitment that the Library has made to helping its diverse student body succeed through the work of our Outreach Librarian for Multicultural Services. Also housed in Undergrad, Emily Love has built relationships with key student support programs across campus, including the Office of Minority Student Affairs.
The University Library has a long tradition of "teaching first-year students as early as possible" about one of the most critical campus resources designed to support their academic success, and a strong commitment to teaching students throughout their time here the information skills they will need for the rest of their lives. As we prepare in the coming year to build on that tradition through collaboration with New Student Orientation and the Division of General Studies, we can look at the results of Kuh's research as one sign that we are dedicating our resources to a critical campus goal.
June 13, 2007
In an earlier post, I talked about the ways in which content digitization projects allow us to pursue a variety of new (or enhanced) service initiatives. As the content available through Illinois Harvest continues to increase, we are already seeing this potential realized. Today's example demonstrates how digitization projects can enhance public engagement programs at the University of Illinois.
Earlier this month, Betsy Kruger, Coordinator of Digital Content Creation, and Mary Stuart, Head, History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library, joined other Library colleagues in making presentations about digital content to the Third Annual Illinois Teaching American History Conference and to the "School Library Day" program sponsored by the Lincoln Trails Library System. Just as the Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas demonstrated with its contribution to the Territorial Kansas Online project, the combination of digital content and subject expertise can form the basis of powerful partnerships between academic libraries, allied cultural heritage organizations and professional groups, and members of the community.
Kudos to Betsy, Mary, and Kurt Groetsch for helping us to build on our existing relations with librarians and teachers across the State of Illinois, and to give us a taste of those library services that we will (continue to) build on the platform provided by our large-scale digitization projects.
June 10, 2007
Innovative Service - Promise and Deliver
As part of our overlapping strategic planning and budgeting processes at UIUC this year, the University Library promised to design and deliver "innovative services" to our users. A broadly-worded promise, I know, but, every now and again, we really see it.
For those who haven't followed the story, Facebook "opened up" its data late last month to allow its users to develop new applications that individuals could adopt to customize their Facebook experience. Many of these are "fun" applications that allow you to share personal information differently, but librarians were quick to ask how this might be turned into an opportunity to take library services to where our users are. Edward Vielmetti, known in the library world as "Superpatron," asked us on May 27th to put the catalog in Facebook, and, as of June 8th, we had done it.
Kudos to David Ward for bringing Search Assistant into Facebook, and to all the people who have been critical to the development and promotion of the Search Assistant applications at UIUC, including Bill Mischo, Lisa Hinchliffe, and many others. This is "innovative service" at its best, and I look forward to sharing its results when preparing that report for the Provost next Spring!