September 12, 2007
Labor and Industrial Relations Library Closes
The LIR Library has been a leader in the provision of collections and services to ILIR faculty and staff, as well as to labor educators and union members around the state and across the country, for decades. In discussing our plans for the future, ILIR Dean Cutcher-Gershenfeld noted the unique contribution that the University Library and LIR librarians and staff have made to his field and to his programs. We look forward to continuing to work closely with ILIR faculty and students and to serving the broader community interested in labor studies and related fields while embracing a new service model designed to take advantage of increased access to digital collections and services, and focused on fostering substantive and sustained collaboration between our faculty and staff.
For more information on Library services for faculty, staff, and students in Industrial and Labor Relations or for assistance in conducting research in Labor Studies at the University of Illinois, please contact Yoo-Seong Song, subject specialist for Labor and Industrial Relations.
July 6, 2007
Visions of the Future
The Southeastern Library Network (SOLINET) has produced an engaging vision of the future - one in which library services are:
*designed to meet assessed user needs and to be accountable to the user community;
*primarily digital, with digital content and services aimed both at "local" users and "global" users; and,
*designed and delivered in close collaboration with user communities.
The library of the future is "a collaborator and facilitator in providing information services."
The UIUC Library has already made great strides toward this future with our focus on assessment of services, our commitment to creating robust digital content focused on areas of interest to students and scholars at Illinois, and our strategic goal of fostering new service models that retain the best of our tradition of high-quality service to students and scholars while embracing new user communities, new service commitments, and new ways of doing business.
There's always more to do, but we're on our way!
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 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!
May 23, 2007
Gilman on Effective Librarians
From the Chronicle of Higher Education, Yale librarian Todd Gilman on the four habits of highly effective librarians: openness, responsiveness, collaboration, and communications.
Todd even manages to weigh in on the importance of assessment (and following up on the results of assessment activities), and the the future of the reference desk.
Not bad for one page!
May 12, 2007
If You Build It, They Will Come
Last Fall, we opened our newly-renovated Chemistry Library and have used its development as one model for our discussion of new thinking about library spaces. Under the leadership of Tina Chrzastowski, Chemistry has been re-designed to take into account the increasing availability of scholarly digital information, as well as the needs of library users for new spaces that provide environments conducive both to individual study and to collaborative work.
The big question, of course, is: did it work?
If we judge the success of the renovation by the simplest measure, the answer is a resounding "Yes!" Using direct head counts of users in the Chemistry Library at different times of day during Fall 2006, we have seen an increase of over 200% in library use between Fall 2005 and Fall 2006. 200% increase in use of the physical library - we won't even talk (for now) about the increased use of digital collections. The "library as place" is alive and well in Noyes Lab!
Among the strategic goals that the UIUC Library has established for the future is our commitment to create Library facilities that meet the needs of 21st century faculty and students. If people are voting with their feet, we have good reason to believe that, with Chemistry, we're making real progress toward that goal.
May 3, 2007
Are We Winning or Losing?
UGL Head Lisa Hinchliffe does yeoman's work in articulating the contributions that information professionals bring to the academic experience, but the DI article still suffers from some of the same assumptions that plagued the article from the Chronicle of Higher Education that was its likely inspiration, especially the assumption that it is the physical reference desk, alone, that signifies the library commitment to providing high-quality information services.
My assumption, as I've said before, is that reference service - whether delivered face-to-face across a reference desk, in the stacks (roving reference), in a residence hall, or in an academic department (field librarians) - is not defined by the quality of its furnishings, but by the expertise of its practitioners and by their ability to adapt effectively to new information use patterns embraced by faculty, staff, and students.
The reference desk isn't losing because Internet searching is winning, and a commitment to providing reference service via IM, Facebook, or laptop deployed in a local coffee shop doesn't mean reference service is "dying." Technology is a tool that allows information professionals to be more creative in the ways in which they deliver professional service, and adapting best professional practice to the changing information environment and to the changing ways in which our users locate, access, evaluate, manage, and present information is something that reference librarians have been doing at least since someone created classification systems, opened the library stacks to browsing, and embraced the notion that the user brought something of value to the process of intellectual inquiry.
Reference service will only go the way of the Dodo (to use the CHE metaphor) if we prove unable, as professionals, to adapt to our changing environment. Today's DI article is just another example of how well we are adapting at the University of Illinois. While this certainly could mean the "death" of the reference desk as the predominant model for information service, it is also sure proof that professional reference and information service (delivered in multiple ways) is alive and well.
April 21, 2007
What Researchers Want - UK Edition
By way of the Information Literacy Weblog, a study of how researchers use academic libraries and their services in the United Kingdom.
Summarizing the insights gained from over 2,000 researchers and 300 librarians, the report raises a number of important points, including the impact of born digital research, interdisciplinary research, virtual research teams, and "significant differences between researchers and librarians in attitudes, perceptions, and awareness of key issues."
As we continue work at UIUC toward establishing our Scholarly Commons service model for graduate students, teaching faculty, and researchers, studies such as these will provide valuable insight into the challenges and opportunities that we face.
April 17, 2007
The Future of the Reference Desk
No-one I know questions the value that librarians bring to the "search" experience - an information professional can be an invaluable asset to a student, scholar, or community member with a need for in-depth information, or for assistance in locating quality information on an esoteric topic.
Many people I know, however, do question the value of the reference desk as a service model.
The problematizing of the reference desk and the call to bring librarian expertise more into the flow of the way our users actually conduct their academic work were definitely themes abroad at the recent ACRL National Conference. In those presentations, I heard many echoes of the debates that we had at the University of Kansas when we adopted a tiered service model for the reference desk (which we simultaneously combined with the circulation desk to support user desires for "one-stop-shopping" for library service). Those themes appear again in this week's Chronicle of Higher Education in an article that we should all read and be ready to discuss, Are Reference Desks Dying Out?
Is the desk, staffed by professional librarians, the best way to stay "in the flow" of academic work? Is it the best way to allocate professional human resources? Are there service models that allow users with a need for professional assistance to have access to it at the point of need, rather than ones built on a "just in case" basis?
The answer to these questions is, "Yes, but they take a lot of work to design and a Library-wide commitment to implement." And, as with other emergent service models, we will have to be careful to remember that one size does not fit all, and that the best model for one institution may not be the best model for all. These are serious questions about the future of reference services, though, and they are worth looking at carefully.
April 12, 2007
Library Services "on the Horizon"
If you are not already making a regular habit of reading The Horizon Report, the time has come to put it on your list.
Each year, the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative prepare a report on the technologies most likely to shape change in the teaching, learning, and research environment. The report groups these technologies by the timeframe in which they appear most likely to become "very important to higher education." The 2007 Report focuses on the following technologies:
*The New Scholarship and Emerging Forms of Publication
*Massively Multiplayer Educational Gaming
The Report further connects student and faculty adoption of these technologies to a key trend in higher education of relevance to library services, i.e., the need for a renewed commitment to (and an expansive view of) information literacy instruction in a world defined by "a sea of user-created content, collaborative work, and instant access to information of varying quality."
Here at UIUC, we are poised to contribute to these ongoing discussions of the evolving higher education environment thanks to the active commitment to address these trends and adopt these technologies seen in our: information literacy program, digital learning projects, scholarly communications program, provision of library services in social networking environments, and exploration of the place of gaming in libraries and higher education.
Next stop (we hope): mobile library services and SecondLife. Stay tuned!
April 11, 2007
Google Books, Departmental Libraries, and the Universal Collection
An interesting post by a doctoral student on How Google Books is Changing Academic History, in which she compares the access to scarce materials in a departmental library model at Cal-Berkeley with the access provided as the result of mass digitization efforts (by way of LIS News).
How soon might we see a paean to our own efforts at UIUC as we bring in each year's Illinois Harvest?
April 6, 2007
New Models for Liaison Librarians - Part One
Who is the liaison librarian to the Office of Greek Affairs?
Most of us know what a liaison librarian is - a librarian, often a subject specialist, with formal responsibility for facilitating communication between the library and a given academic department or departments, and for providing a full spectrum of library services to the faculty, staff, and students in the liaison department(s) (more on that "full spectrum" in Part Two). Don't believe me? See the Online Dictionary of Library & Information Science:
Today, we are in the early days of a new model for liaison librarians and liaison programs - one defined not only by service to academic departments and programs, but inclusive of co-curricular and extra-curricular programs. Why? Because co-curricular and extra-curricular programs have been focusing for the past 15 years on refining and highlighting the contribution that they make to the academic experience. And, if these are educational programs, it follows that they can benefit from working with the library. Not just once, and not just by chance, but in the same substantive, sustained, and ongoing way in which we work with academic departments.
Of course, few of these programs have "book budgets" or collections needs (although some do); thus, the focus of the liaison relationship is primarily on service, especially information and instructional services. What is the "subject specialty" of these new library liaisons? It depends on the liaison program, of course, but often the subject exertise lies in the librarian's knowledge of the educational content of the co-curricular program and of the research underpinning its work.
The liaison librarian at the University of Massachussetts assigned to Residence Hall Education programs, for example (http://www.library.umass.edu/reference/liaisons.html#centers), should be familiar with the student affairs research underpinning residence hall education programs [e.g., Realizing the Educational Potential of Residence Halls, 1994 (currently circulating)].
UMASS demonstrates one model for expanding our vision of the liaison librarian's work, i.e., assignment of liaison responsibilities for student affairs programs that complement a traditional set of academic liaison assignments. This was also the approach we took at Kansas (http://www.lib.ku.edu/instruction/partners/). Want to see how this could look at UIUC? I'd recommend Yoo-Seong Song's forthcoming article in Research Strategies (already available "in press" from ScienceDirect) on how his liaison work with the Business Career Services Office complements his traditional liaison work as a faculty member in BEL.
Another approach is to create new positions that focus on this new facet of liaison work. Oregon State has moved in this direction with the creation of an "Undergraduate Services Librarian" charged with the development of programmatic relations with student affairs programs. We are in the mix here, too, with the creation of the position of Outreach Librarian for Multicultural Services.
The role and scope of the liaison librarian's work is changing, both in the range of professional responsibilities and in terms of the programs with which we must commit to build programmatic and sustainable relationships if we are to serve the full range of educational programs on our campus. Yoo-Seong and Emily (and, yes, there are others, but this post is already too long) provide examples of significant progress we've made down this road already at the University of Illinois. We have a long way that we can still go, if we choose to do so.
There are several liaison relationships already existing between librarians and co-curricular and extra-curricular programs at UIUC - some more formal than others. The Office of Services is engaged in an exploration of these relationships and looks forward to documenting them, to supporting the work of these liaison librarians, and, as at UMASS, Kansas, Oregon State, Washington State, and other institutions, to representing this valuable, professional work to our colleagues and our campus as another facet of the service we provide to the students of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.