Plan for Locating the Media Collection in Open Stacks: March 2006


The media collection will be located in open stacks in order to provide as much open access to media materials as possible, to eliminate artificial barriers based on physical format, and to focus on providing seamless, user-friendly services at one integrated service desk. This has become much easier over the past few years based on a number of variables such as the wide availability of playback equipment (e.g., DVD drives in all public workstations) and better inventory control and patron services made possible by using the integrated Voyager Media Scheduling module. The existing circulating subset of the media collection has proven to be extremely popular and has not created any notable service problems. This plan presents no changes for existing resource sharing agreements. We believe that by expanding that model and allowing all patrons circulating access to the entire media collection the funds spent to purchase media materials will be put to the best possible use.

The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Audiovisual and Multimedia Section Guidelines address this issue as well:

An ever-increasing amount of information – covering educational and recreational interests as well as information needs – is being produced in a wide range of audiovisual and electronic formats. Access to these materials should be as open and as free as access to print-based materials. [1]

By moving the media collection into open stacks at the Undergraduate Library we can improve both our public services and the efficiency of the underlying technical services.

Intended Plan

The plan is that the two parts of the media collection (i.e., the existing circulating and closed stacks) be reintegrated and shelved in open stacks on the lower level of the Undergraduate Library as part of the reconfiguration underway for the Learning Commons. Public services for the collection will be part of the integrated service desk on the upper level, providing one-stop shopping for patron needs, regardless of format. Voyager Media Scheduling will be used to circulate all media materials (with the possible exception of audiobooks) in order to accommodate the need for faculty and instructors to reserve materials for classroom use. Materials from the media collection that need to be on reserve will be housed behind the integrated desk as reserve items, when requested, on a semester by semester basis, just as any print materials will be. The viewing carrels will be located near the media collection on the lower level and will be available for drop-in use. Some portable devices such as 8” portable DVD players and headphones will be available for circulation at the integrated desk along with the other equipment that will be available there for check out. The DVD collection currently housed within closed stacks will need to be re-housed in matching security cases as those in the existing circulating collection to prevent theft.

Positive Effects of the Plan

  • All patrons will be able to browse the media collection in open shelves.
  • Elimination of distinctions between media and print informational needs.
  • Simplification of public services for patrons: one desk, one-stop shopping for all reference and circulation needs.
  • Undergraduates will have access to all the collections housed in the Undergraduate Library.
  • Improved efficiency in staffing resources.

Classroom and Research Use Not Restricted

Faculty and instructors may be concerned that materials they need for research or classroom use may not be available when they need them; however, through Voyager Media Scheduling, which checks for conflicts anytime a reservation is made, faculty and instructors can place advance reservations without restricting other patron access to the material when not in use. Not only will faculty and instructors have the ability to make reservations in advance, should items go missing the Undergraduate Library is committed to aggressive procurement of replacement copies. If we are notified in advance, we can place the media materials needed for the current semester on reserve, effectively eliminating any circulation outside the building.

The only other concern that needs to be addressed is that media resources and services be advertised appropriately to indicate that the scope of these services encompasses all levels of teaching and research needs and are readily accessible by faculty, staff and students at all levels across campus. This would appear to be a common concern for many of the proposed Learning Commons services however and is part of the new web page design and other plans for updating the Undergraduate Library image.

Planning for the Future

Implementing this plan will not only simplify services in the present, it will allow the Undergraduate Library to think strategically about the future of media resources and services in general. Long-term it is expected that many of these resources will be offered online in digital form and reintegrating the physical formats with other existing circulation policies and procedures is one step in that direction. The technical services functions of the current Media & Reserve Center will still be performed by those trained staff under the direction of Mary Laskowski, but the Center as such will cease to exist and the technical skills of the unit will be used to best advantage for the Undergraduate Library and the Library as a whole. Eventually such skills will hopefully include conversion of physical media to digital formats and other innovative initiatives.

[1] International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions Audiovisual and Multimedia Section, Guidelines for Audiovisual and Multimedia Materials in Libraries and other Institutions,