Summary of the Life Sciences Division Service Model Discussions

The Life Science Division, consisting of Mary Beth Allen (AHS), Pat Allen, Laura Hanson and Barbara Trumpinski (ACES/Funk), Katie Newman (Biotech), Diane Schmidt and Melody Allison (Biology), Beth Wohlgemuth (NHS), and Greg Youngen (Vet Med) met May 30, 2007 to discuss new service models within the Division.

As the most geographically dispersed division of libraries on campus, staff members of the LSD appreciate being located close to their primary groups of users. While locality is becoming less important as libraries continue to digitize and share resources electronically, the proximity of the physical collections to classrooms, faculty offices and laboratories makes the LSD libraries a necessary and familiar information resource for our users. The collections, electronic resources, subject expertise of the library staff, study areas (both group and private) along with computer, photocopy and a/v equipment are among the essential services provided by the division libraries.

The Division is on the forefront of new information delivery service models with regards to both content and delivery.  Our recent accomplishments include:

A library without walls. The Biotechnology Information Center is a service model for many other subject area libraries to emulate. Biotechnology Librarian, Katie Newman is an integral part of the Division and is a constant source of new ideas and information that keep us all informed of new developments in the fast growing and overlapping fields of the life sciences. The information resources in biotechnology available on campus are superbly represented by Katie’s work in this area – in person and in the virtual library she maintains on the web.

Recently, Mary Beth Allen (Applied Health Sciences Librarian) has taken on the task of coordinating a working group for consolidating and providing access to the health and medical information available on campus. The lack of a centralized medical collection (other than veterinary medicine) for the Urbana campus has been a source of confusion and frustration for those involved in health related research. Under Mary Beth’s leadership, representatives from three separate library divisions are working on creating a Health Information Portal to assess the scope and quality of collections, coordinate electronic resources, and provide health information to the broad spectrum of library users on campus.

A Biology Library project to incorporate IM/Chat reference service is currently being evaluated. Melody Allison has been experimenting with providing these services and the rest of the division is closely following her experience. If the service is determined valuable to our users, look for it to become a division-supported and shared activity.

The Veterinary Medicine Library recently expanded its service to the College of Veterinary Medicine by incorporating a student computer laboratory. Sixteen computers were relocated in the library this spring, bringing more students into the library as a result. As the resource library for many core medical titles (both animal and human) on the Urbana campus, Vet Med will continue to be integral part of the expansion into health and medical research envisioned at the highest levels of the University.

The ACES/Funk Library is the flagship library for physical space and service within the division. The library was designed with service in mind. Aside from housing the outstanding collection, the library provides several meeting rooms and comfortable study areas, a staff of experts in a variety of agricultural and environmental fields to help users in person and electronically.

The Division’s most remote collection, the Natural History Survey Library, is a model of cooperation between two separate institutions, sharing resources, expertise and collection development responsibilities.  The close working relationships between the NHS and other division libraries is a service model extending beyond the University.

Outlook for the near future

The physical locations of the Life Sciences Libraries are both an asset and a liability. An asset from the standpoint of convenience to the dispersed user populations we serve. A liability in terms of changing with the nature of the information we provide. Our staffing levels also need to be maintained to ensure library operations and adequate service can be provided to our users. This makes the division somewhat less flexible for consolidation than those libraries without core user populations in their immediate proximity.

The members of the Life Sciences Division, like everyone else in the library and information science profession, recognize the rapid changes taking place within our field, in the publishing industry, and the way people use information. All of us have an interest in seeing that our users, (students, faculty and public alike) get the information they need in a timely, consistent and authoritative manner. If new service models are established that ensure these criteria, the Life Sciences Division stands ready to implement improvements in service at all levels.

The Division has made great strides incorporating new service models for the Libraries. We’re proud of our accomplishments and look forward to implementing new services in the future.