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A Brave New World: Using Cutting-Edge Technology to Improve Student Learning

Classroom Performance System
The Department of Library Teaching and Learning in University Libraries recently acquired eInstruction’s Classroom Performance System (CPS), a technology that allows instructors to gauge in an instant student understanding of material, that encourages lively whole-class interaction, and that captures student learning assessment data.

With CPS, instructors pose subjective or objective questions to which students respond anonymously via individual wireless response pads that look very much like a remote control for a television or DVD player. Student responses are then tabulated and displayed on the instructor’s projected workstation. Since student responses are anonymous, students are more likely to respond while instructors benefit from the immediate feedback. Instructors can tailor their lesson plans according to student needs, skipping material that students understand and devoting more time to content students need to learn.

The software also has the capability of increasing classroom interactivity. An instructor can present a question based on a specific scenario, have students weigh in with their responses, and then encourage a dialogue among students before revealing the correct answer. This feature in particular has been well received by the instruction librarians and students in classes where the software was used because of the liveliness of interaction it promotes. Instruction librarians, who tend to be guest lecturers, find it difficult to engage students in the single class period they typically have to work with a class. CPS jumpstarts active learning possibilities in these sessions.

The ability of CPS to record student responses will help the Libraries gather data about students’ information literacy skills. Instruction librarians work with students at all levels. By having students in upper-division classes respond to the same set of questions that entry-level students respond to, the Libraries can track improvement in students’ information literacy skills as well as identify areas needing improvement.

Instruction librarians piloted CPS in several classes during summer and fall semesters, and student response was favorable. In fact, in a library instruction session taught this summer for EDTL 680, the students who were primarily high school and elementary school teachers, asked for more information about CPS. They were so impressed with the technology that they wanted to explore the possibility of acquiring the technology for their own school systems.

CPS was funded for University Libraries through a collaborative OBOR Technology Initiatives Grant. An article about this grant project is available in the Spring 2002 issue of Library Newslinks. More information about CPS is available on the eInstruction website <http://www.einstruction.com/>.

SMART Board / Laptops
The Curriculum Resource Center (CRC) is using a SMART Board during instruction sessions as a method to engage students in active learning as well as to expose pre-service Preschool – 12 educators to a new and effective classroom technology tool. The SMART Board is an interactive whiteboard that allows instruction librarians the flexibility to “control software, access and display information from the Internet, run live video from a camera, and deliver CD-ROM presentations” by touching the Board.

CRC using the SmartboardIn essence, the SMART Board becomes the instructor’s keyboard. Important points can be illustrated by writing or drawing with special pens or by using the onscreen highlighter on the touch-sensitive screen. During CRC instruction sessions presenters have used the SMART Board to demonstrate effective online catalog searching techniques, view a visual tour of the CRC via Microsoft PowerPoint, and encourage the use of education-related Internet sites or Preschool – grade 12 research databases. To learn more about the SMART Board visit http://smarttech.com/ and http://www.smarterkids.org/.

CRC using laptops for instructionIn addition to using the SMART Board, CRC instructors have added 24 laptops and an integrated audiovisual equipment system to enhance their instructional sessions. Laptops and equipment were purchased with monies received from Board of Regents instructional equipment funds allocated through the Office of the Provost and additional funds allocated through the Office of the Chief Information Officer at BGSU. Students are actively engaged during CRC sessions by using the laptops to locate educational materials via the University Libraries online catalog, construct effective online search strategies, to identify relevant research articles and evaluate Internet sites.

– Sara Bushong, Head Librarian, Curriculum Resource Center and Cathi Cardwell, Chair, Department of Library Teaching and Learning

Delta Zeta Grows New Leaves on the University Libraries Gift Tree

Last October, University Libraries Dean Lorraine Haricombe was deeply gratified when Jodi Kunk, then Treasurer of the Gamma Tau Chapter of Delta Zeta at Bowling Green State University, announced the sorority’s intention to contribute funds to the University Libraries’ Centennial Campaign. In celebration of their Centennial Anniversary on October 24, 2002, members of Delta Zeta wanted to make a lasting gift to the University. The Libraries’ Centennial Campaign with the theme, “Preserve the Past, Envision the Future,” seemed like the perfect opportunity.

In December, Delta Zeta Toledo Alumnae Chapter President Jennifer Kayackas presented Dean Haricombe with a gift matching that of the Gamma Tau Chapter. According to Dr. Haricombe, “We were thrilled to learn of the Toledo Chapter’s contribution, but not surprised. The Delta Zeta sorority gift is a reflection of their commitment to stimulate one another in the pursuit of knowledge. We are delighted that they have stepped up to the challenge.”

Gifts to the Libraries’ Centennial Campaign help the University Libraries focus on the spatial and environmental needs of the unique and special collections, particularly in the Popular Culture Library, Music Library and Sound Recordings Archives, Curriculum Resource Center, Center for Archival Collections, and Historical Collections of the Great Lakes. Two bronze leaves located on the gift tree in the William T. Jerome Library commemorate the gifts of Delta Zeta.

For more information about the Libraries’ Centennial Campaign call 419.372.2856 or visit the web site http://www.bgsu.edu/colleges/library/giving_lib.html.

Beverly Stearns, Director of Administrative Programs and Services

Serials Management Project 2003-2004

This year saw continuing decreases in support for higher education from the State of Ohio. The materials budget for University Libraries has remained flat for the past three years, and it is anticipated that there will be decreasing budgets for the next biennium. Adding to this difficult budget situation is the continuing increase in journal subscriptions at an annual rate of 8% to 10%.

To manage the process of reviewing periodicals for cancellation effective in 2004, and to communicate with faculty, the University Libraries again built a web site for the Serials Management Project: http://www.bgsu.edu/colleges/library/infosrv/smp/smp1.htm.
University deans, directors, department chairs, and library representatives were informed of the project. Library liaisons were available to meet with departments to provide information about the project.

University Libraries staff are taking the following steps to stretch subscription dollars over as many journals as possible:

  • This year we repeated a strategy begun last year: cancellation of our remaining print subscriptions that duplicate e-journal subscriptions in the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center (EJC), which provides a permanent archive. Due to inconsistent electronic content a few titles may be continued in print.
  • Additionally, we identified a group of titles with low use (less than one recorded use per year over the last six years) for cancellation.
  • After subtracting the dollar amounts for EJC duplicate titles and low-use titles, we exempted the next $5000 of each department’s periodicals allocation from cancellations. Any department with more than $5000 in subscriptions assigned to it has been asked to recommend titles to cancel that have the least impact on programs and meet the target for the department.
  • Other titles that are purchased in duplicate formats along with general interest titles that are not assigned to departments are being reviewed to identify additional cuts that can be made.

We are reviewing the responses from University departments and will post this information on the Serials Management Project web site. After receiving final faculty feedback, we will complete cancellation decisions and distribute this information to you later this spring. When we receive firm budget information for fiscal year 2003-04, we will finalize cancellation decisions.

Your participation in this process and your concern for the provision of information resources to the University community is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your ideas and recommendations. Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact Linda Brown, Collections Coordinator (lbrown@bgnet.bgsu.edu).

Jeanne Langendorfer, Serials Coordinator
Linda Brown, Collections Coordinator

Explore Treasure Trove at University Libraries!

Teaching your class to use primary source material? Looking for the weather in Philadelphia in 1803? Researching women’s rights in the 19th century? Looking for information on surveillance by the FBI on Martin Luther King, Jr.?

University Libraries own such resources on microfilm, microfiche, and microcard as well as the workstations to scan images for the user to save to disk. Find information about each of the microform research collections owned by the Libraries at http://www.bgsu.edu/colleges/library/infosrv/MicroCollections/index.htm
This web site includes a description of the content of each collection and a list of finding aids to help researchers use the collection. These are linked from a series of pages that provide access by name, subject, time period, or language.

The workstations consist of a computer, scanner and software that allow the user to scan pages from microforms as graphic files (PDF, JPEG, TIFF, etc) and save them on disks. They are located adjacent to Periodicals/Microforms Desk on the main floor of Jerome Library. Student employees provide basic assistance during open hours and instructions for use of the equipment are provided.

For your first visit

  • Plan to use this equipment during business hours so full-time staff are available to assist you.
  • Expect to spend some time learning about the scanner, the Adobe Acrobat software, and the computer.

Bring a PC-compatible Zip disk (100 or 250 mb) with you if you intend to save many images. You may use a 3.5” disk if you need only a few images.

Researchers using interlibrary loan material and students wanting to avoid paying for printing microform images are the most frequent users of this equipment. Students in history and journalism classes scan material from the microform collections to take to their desktops and use in the comfort of their own home at 3:00a.m. Occasionally, the equipment has been busy enough that users have had to wait their turn to use the equipment!

Jeanne Langendorfer, Serials Coordintor
Carol Singer, Reference Librarian

Olinks Service from OhioLINK Makes the Connection

OhioLINK has developed Olinks,an innovative cross-referencing service to help researchers track down the text of articles cited in electronic databases and indexes. Olinks connects citations in OhioLINK-provided databases with other library materials, including both print and electronic resources. Using Olinks, student and faculty researchers alike can more easily take advantage of the many resources provided by OhioLINK and the BGSU Libraries.

At its most basic level, Olinks will tell you whether the library owns the journal being cited, and where it is shelved. If the journal is included in OhioLINK’s Electronic Journal Center, http://journals.ohiolink.edu/ , Olinks provides direct access to the full text of the article. Olinks also features a mechanism for connecting to local electronic journal subscriptions. At this time, approximately two thirds of our locally-owned electronic subscriptions are linked to database citations using Olinks.

Additionally, the Olinks service takes cross-referencing a step beyond local and OhioLINK e-journal subscriptions. Many articles are indexed in more than one database, some of which provide the full text of the article and some of which do not. If you are searching in an OhioLINK database with few or no full text articles and find a citation that is also indexed in a database that does provide the full text, Olinks will make the connection for you.

Olinks is available in all of OhioLINK’s own databases (those with the navy blue, gray, and khaki interface, such as ERIC), as well as the new EBSCO databases, Academic Search Premier and Business Source Premier (with the blue, green, and yellow interface). To use Olinks, just click on the Olinks logo or the phrase “Find A Copy” in your search results list, and a new Olinks window will pop up. If the library subscribes to the journal, the range of dates and location will be displayed. If there is access to an electronic copy of the article, whether through the Electronic Journal Center, a local subscription, or another database, a maroon-colored link to the article will appear at the top of the Olinks box.

For more information, read the answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Olinks provided by OhioLINK: http://olinks.ohiolink.edu/.

Julie Rabine, Bibliographer

Search Multiple Databases with Subject Cluster Searching

OhioLINK and the University Libraries have recently introduced a new research tool called “Subject Cluster Searching.” We have gathered together important databases by their subject matter and developed a tool that allows you to search several databases simultaneously.

With access to more than 100 research databases through OhioLINK and the University Libraries, research can sometimes be a daunting prospect. Now, Subject Cluster Searching offers the convenience of grouping together up to six databases for simultaneous searching. You can search keywords or phrases across these databases and retrieve a variety of types of relevant information, including citations to journal and magazine articles, citations to books, and digital media such as images or videos.

Although Subject Cluster Searching can not handle complex search statements, it can help you determine which databases have the most information about your topic, so that you can search the most relevant databases thoroughly. Additionally, you can use it to search databases with similar content, such as ERIC and Education Abstracts, and remove duplicate results.

The Subject Cluster interface is straightforward and easy to use. Simply select one of the predetermined subject clusters provided, or create a cluster of your own. Then enter a keyword or phrase describing your concept. You will receive up to 50 results from each of the selected databases. And, you can directly access the electronic text of many resources, as well as locate the physical item in the Libraries by using the “Find a Copy” link.

To access Subject Cluster Searching visit the University Libraries research databases main menu at http://maurice.bgsu.edu/search/y , or go directly to http://mds.ohiolink.edu/mds/select . Try it now!

Kelly Broughton, Reference Coordinator

“Chat” Brings Reference Service to the User

As the amount and variety of electronically available information grows and people increasingly access these resources from outside the library, reference librarians are concerned about researchers getting the help and instruction they need. Many faculty know that some students have turned to Ask Jeeves for help with their research assignments and others simply rely on the top results brought back by their favorite web search engine.

For online, real-time assistance in accessing quality, scholarly information, University Libraries launched “Chat with a Librarian” in May of 2000. This service uses web-based customer service software that enables librarians to chat with and send web pages to researchers over the Internet. Users do not need special software or plug-ins on their computers; and, with a simple click of the Ask-A-Librarian button found throughout the University Libraries’ web site, they can access a librarian immediately, no matter where they may be located throughout the world.

The results were positive, and expensive! Students and faculty loved the service, with more than 92% saying they would use it again in the future. However, the software was expensive to license and the service required intensive staff resources. Collaborating with other libraries through our consortia, OhioLINK seemed like a natural for a project that would serve all of our patrons, yet pool our dollars and staff energy.

A committee of librarians from eight different Ohio academic libraries, including BGSU, was formed to investigate the possibilities. After approximately one year of grant writing, planning, piloting, and training, we launched the statewide service in August 2002. Students, faculty and staff from any of the 82 OhioLINK member institutions (nearly 500,000 people) can log onto the Internet and ask a librarian for research assistance. Librarians from more than 40 OhioLINK member libraries participate in staffing the service, which is available 73 hours per week during fall and spring semesters.

By participating in the statewide project, BGSU librarians have gone from singularly staffing our local service for 73 hours per week, to sharing the staffing with other librarians across the state. Now we are required to staff the service only 6 hours per week. Grant dollars secured by the statewide committee now cover hardware and software purchases and licensing costs. OhioLINK staff provide technological support. Additionally, because OhioLINK controls many of the research database displays on the Web, a help to link to the service has been embedded within the database web pages, which allows researchers access to a librarian at their immediate point of need.

Perhaps even more important than the low cost and cooperative sharing of the workload, is the service’s popularity and success with library users. More than 3,000 research queries (more than 200 from BGSU users) have been answered on the service in the first three months of spring semester 2003 alone. Response from researchers across the state has been outstanding. Read just a few of the positive comments that we have received:

  • “Wonderfully helpful! Many thanks!”
  • “This is a wonderful and very helpful service. I’d be lost in my research without it!”
  • “Awesome service…the librarian was at U of Akron and was able to serve me at Kent State Stark. Holy cow…this is great!”
  • “I REALLY liked this service! I think all students should know about it and know its (sic) available!”
  • “This system works perfectly. It’s like having the whole library at your computer. It’s good being able to have assistance when you need it.”
  • “What a fabulous service! Thank you for making this available!”
  • “ . . . this has to be ONE of the best ideas EVER!”
  • “I could not have finished my project without this help.”
  • “Excellent service. A+++”
  • “I love this service THANK YOUU SOOOOO MUCH!!!”

Now that the statewide service is in full swing and its value is widely recognized, librarians at the University Libraries are investigating ways to make sure that BGSU researchers get the most efficient and effective service possible. When researchers from distant universities log into the service, they are routed to a librarian from their local institution, if one is available. This spring, librarians from University Libraries have brought their expertise back home by offering “Chat” service specifically to BGSU users during peak weekday times beyond the statewide service requirements. We continue to investigate ways to streamline all of our reference mediums: in-person, telephone, email, and chat so that we are offering the highest quality service at the lowest possible cost.

For more information about the Ask-A-Librarian service, visit our web site at http://www.bgsu.edu/colleges/library/infosrv/ref/ask.html or contact Kelly Broughton, Reference Coordinator, at kmoore@bgnet.bgsu.edu.

Kelly Broughton, Reference Coordinator

University Libraries Strategic Plan, 2003-2005, Executive Summary

Against the backdrop of changes affecting libraries, including the erosion of library funding, new and emerging technologies, accountability, and heightened user expectations, library deans and directors increasingly engage in strategic planning to review and reengineer their operations to face this new reality.

At Bowling Green State University (BGSU) several major initiatives provided a logical timeframe to review the University Libraries’ (UL) mission and to define strategic directions in support of the University’s vision to become “a premier learning institution in Ohio and one of the best in the nation.” To this end, President Ribeau has identified the academic plan as a major focus to guide the intellectual inquiry, engagement and achievement that will transform BGSU into a premier learning institution.

This campus-wide change from passive learning to outcome-based learning grounded in a level of inquiry and engagement that will develop in students “the skills to make critical assessments and informed decisions throughout their lives” provides the UL with new and excellent opportunities to become an active partner in teaching and learning. However, in the face of diminishing resources, strategic planning becomes even more critical if the UL are to be a full partner in the University’s transformation.

Strategic planning assumes an outcome that will lead to changes firmly rooted in the strengths of the organization while also exploring opportunities to innovate and improve services and programs. In recent years the UL have been in the forefront of implementing new technologies that have generated significant changes in services, programs, and products. These changes have generated new work processes, additional job responsibilities, and different user expectations that have severely taxed the UL’s resources. Unfortunately, the UL also have suffered budget cuts that threaten their ability to provide essential library services while expanding into the new digital frontier.

Deeply committed to maintaining quality in essential services as well as introducing innovations to support BGSU’s aspiration of becoming an engaged learning community characterized by “a continuous flow of ideas…[that] invigorates the process of inquiry and heightens individual and institutional achievement,” the UL have come to the realization that they simply cannot afford to keep doing things the same old way. Every aspect of the UL operations will be subject to scrutiny as library resources are realigned in support of the vision of Becoming a Premier University articulated in the BGSU Academic Plan (2003).

Toward this end, the UL developed a Strategic Plan which will guide them toward achieving greater efficiency through changes in organizational structure, new technologies, assessment, collaboration, and communication with their users. Within a framework of ten strategic directions, the Strategic Plan identifies supporting goals and objectives while highlighting the University’s critical role bringing many proposed UL initiatives to fruition. The strategic directions include:

  • Building a Flexible Organization
  • Achieving Leadership in Information Literacy
  • Making the User-Centered Library a Reality
  • Measuring Up: Assessment of Library Effectiveness
  • Optimizing Information Technology: the Present and the Future
  • Managing Collections and Access
  • Pursuing Funding Initiatives
  • Transforming the Bricks and Mortar
  • Valuing and Reflecting Diversity
  • Reaching Out / Reaching Up: Communication

The Strategic Plan is the culmination of a library-wide process spearheaded by a Strategic Planning Task Force that was formed in Summer 2002. Their charge was to draft a Strategic Plan by the mid-year retreat in January 2003. The Strategic Planning Task Force subdivided into functional groups and used a variety of strategies including focus groups, e-mails and surveys to solicit feedback from all library units and departments. The chair of the Strategic Planning Task Force provided regular updates at the monthly all-staff meetings. The Writing Group, a subgroup of the Strategic Planning Task Force, was responsible for sorting the information and formatting the plan. Three strategic directions were identified at the mid-year retreat for initial implementation. They included: Making the User-Centered Library a Reality; Building a Flexible Organization; and Achieving Leadership in Information Literacy.

Building on the UL’s strengths of innovation, flexibility, technological leadership, service excellence, and unique expertise in a number of areas, the Strategic Plan provides a pathway for all of the UL’s departments and units to formulate, implement and assess goals and objectives. Following this path will move the UL from an isolated learning place to an integrated learning environment that embodies the Academic Plan’s vision of “a supportive [University learning] environment in which talent – in all areas – can emerge and excel,” and one in which students and faculty are prepared to “function in a diverse and increasingly interdependent world.”

It is our goal to use the Strategic Plan as a significant guide in our decision-making processes and operations. We are now preparing to implement the strategic directions.

l.j. haricombe, Dean

LibQual+ 2002: What Have We Learned?

University Libraries participated in the 2002 LibQual+ survey of library service quality with several other OhioLINK libraries. Developed under the auspices of Texas A & M University and the Association of Research Libraries, the survey instrument provides a means to measure users’ perception of the quality of library services and facilities. The survey was conducted during March and April 2002; quantitative data and comments were compiled and distributed in late June 2002. In addition to our own data received in late August 2002, we received aggregated data for other OhioLINK libraries and for all participating libraries.

We issued survey invitations by e-mail to 800 BGSU faculty members, 545 staff, 700 graduate students, and 1300 undergraduate students. The undergraduate response rate was low, and we sent 2700 additional invitations to a mixed group of graduate and undergraduate students. 523 surveys were completed; 189 of those surveys included comments. By user group, we received 128 faculty responses, 50 staff responses, 174 graduate student responses, and 155 undergraduate student responses.

BGSU LibQual+™ task force members began an initial review of the results. In comparing ourselves to other libraries, we found that, for the most part, our results fell firmly in the middle. After identifying areas of concern where we fell outside the mid-range of the national norms, we decided to focus on our own results. Even though we understand the value of comparing BGSU to other institutions and the need to recognize and employ best practices, our greater concern was to learn what our users had to say about us. Their responses and comments raised a number of questions: we needed to talk with our users and we began planning a series of focus groups.

The LibQual+™ task force identified four major areas to cover in the focus groups: satisfaction with the materials provided by the library; satisfaction with library services; how patrons learn about library services; the user/study spaces provided in the library. Working with interns from the Master of Organizational Development program, we developed one major question for each of the areas with additional “probing” questions. We were careful to insure that the focus group questions could be mapped to the quantitative data from the LibQual+™ survey. The intern also worked with the format of each session. We prepared a brief overview of LibQual+™ and why we were talking to our users; we distributed brief demographic questionnaires to the participants; and we gave them a general outline of the questions that we planned to ask.

From mid-November 2002 through March 2003, we conducted sessions with eight focus groups. Groups included the Library Advisory Council (faculty), representatives from the Graduate Student Senate, the World Student Association, the African-American Graduate Student Association, graduate commuter students from the College of Education, College of Education faculty, aerobics instructors from the Student Recreation Center, and undergraduate and graduate students in Psychology.

Areas of concern from the LibQual+™ survey primarily centered around the Access and Personal Control dimensions. From the graduate student participants, we learned that generally, BGSU’s collections do support coursework, and that they were concerned with the support provided for research and thesis/dissertation work. Participants did, however, identify specific areas of the collection that they thought were weak. We learned that some graduate-student concerns included the materials selection process: they would like greater involvement in their departmental processes for recommending purchases. Other suggestions included physical facilities, such as improved location of photocopiers and more isolated study spaces. Several graduate students suggested purchasing some kind of baskets for students to use in carrying materials around the library.

Faculty members were, not surprisingly, concerned about journal holdings, especially in the sciences and social sciences fields. Human interactions were rated highly. Faculty members clearly did not understand the variety of methods used to obtain the materials they needed. There was real confusion between OhioLINK borrowing, Interlibrary Loan, materials retrieved from the Depository, and purchases of new materials.

From comments submitted with the survey, we learned that we are not marketing our services effectively. This observation was reinforced in comments made in the focus groups. Even though e-mail notices were available and had been advertised via the library’s web page, in inserts sent with print notices, inserts placed in books, and flyers at circulation points, several participants indicated that we should add e-mail notices. Services that we thought were prominently displayed or easy to find on the website had been completely missed by users. Participants were divided on the best means of advertising services, indicating to us that we must employ a variety of methods, not a single method.

Our undergraduate response rate to the LibQual+™ survey was low and we knew we were far enough into the semester (late October 2002) that trying to persuade undergraduates to attend focus groups would not be fruitful, yet we wanted to get some information from the undergraduate students. Librarian Cathi Cardwell, who coordinates Research Project Clinics (RPC) for University Libraries, suggested that we prepare a one-page survey to give to students at the end of their RPC appointments. Surveys also were made available at several public service desks for any undergraduate student to complete.

114 undergraduate students participated in the RPCs and 137 completed the survey. 50 (36.5%) were seniors, 27 (19.7%) were juniors, 18 (13.1%) were sophomores, and 40 (29.2%) were first-year students. We used the LibQual+™ discipline breakdown; participants represented all disciplines except Engineering/Computer Science, with the majority (more than 53%) from Business, Communication, and Education.

More than 72% of the users who completed the survey were “mostly satisfied or “very satisfied” with materials found in the research databases. Slightly more than 53% were mostly or very satisfied with the book collection, while more than 31% were only partially satisfied or not satisfied. Just over half of the respondents were mostly or very satisfied with off-campus access to library resources, while nearly 15% were only partially satisfied or not satisfied. Again, just over half of the respondents were mostly or very satisfied with the process for requesting materials from remote storage, just over 10% were partially or not satisfied, and 39% did not answer the question. Just fewer than 60% of the respondents were mostly or very satisfied with spaces provided for study, while fewer than 9% were partially or not satisfied.

Although more than 41% of the respondents prefer to ask a permanent staff member for assistance, more than 33% state that they have no preference for permanent staff over student staff. Those who prefer to ask permanent staff members for assistance do so because the staff members are perceived to have better training and a more thorough knowledge about finding information. Those who have no preference indicate that accurate information and a friendly demeanor are most important to them.

When asked what one thing they would like to change about the libraries, respondents’ answers run the gamut, with no one thing standing out, although hours (they want more), LC Classification (they find it confusing), and variety of materials (more needed) received more responses than other categories. The number of staff members available to assist patrons and the responsiveness of those staff members were clearly the something students did not want to see changed. The atmosphere and study spaces also received numerous responses.

How are We Using What We Have Learned?

In 2002, the University Libraries engaged in major initiatives in the areas of facilities planning and fundraising to address long overdue spatial and environmental concerns for our unique and special collections. These initiatives followed a feasibility study of the building that was completed in October 2001. The report highlighted various problems including HVAC, plumbing, electric lighting, cramped storage, lack of a fire suppression system and leakages. Also in 2002, a building committee was formed to explore the possibility for renovation and expansion of the building to accommodate and showcase our unique and special collections. To complement this effort (and to coincide with the upcoming 100th anniversary of BGSU), we also launched a centennial campaign to raise awareness and funds for secure storage of our special collections. The primary charge of the building committee is to work with the University’s capital planning office to identify space to secure and showcase our unique and special collections, and also to review vacated space for facilities that will meet our users’ needs. To this end, we have found the LibQUAL+™ results helpful in providing user feedback as we continue discussions in spatially reorganizing the library. For example, both graduate and undergraduate students have requested a variety of study areas: small group rooms; open, comfortable seating; more isolated, individual study areas. Some users have asked for a coffee shop in the library and a larger computer laboratory. Spatial reorganization also opens up possibilities for collaboration with other academic support units to consider relocating to the library to provide a “one-stop shop” for our users. Simply put, our long-range goal is to transform the traditional library to become an academic center that will provide users with all the support services readily available in one place.

During summer 2002, we made concerted efforts to bring up the ILLiad Interlibrary Loan system and to address problems with our proxy server for remote access; e-mail notices were activated during the fall 2002 semester. These efforts were reflected in positive responses to survey questions about personal control, especially from the graduate students. Graduate students clearly have embraced ILLiad, and problems with remote access centered more on technical problems with connections than on proxy-server authentication.

One of University Libraries’ strategic directions is to improve communication with the BGSU community to market our products and services. Routinely, librarians find out how little library users know about available products and services and the LibQUAL+™ data confirmed that perception. Who is to blame: the uninformed user or the passive librarian? The correct answer probably lies somewhere in between, validating the use of LibQUAL+™ data to plan for a stronger investment in communication with users about library services to better inform them and manage their expectations in libraries. Ultimately, users create, shape, and define the character of the demand for all products and services.

Despite our efforts to inform library users, many remain uninformed about the various library products and services that we provide. We regularly announce new library services in the campus media; and, through this online newsletter we inform the university community of library initiatives, products, and services each semester. In the absence of an outreach librarian we encourage all staff members to actively market the library’s resources as an integral part of their jobs. To this end library instructors and bibliographers are taking steps to ensure that faculty and students are regularly informed of resources in their specific subject areas. But, we need to do more. Our LibQUAL+™ data have been helpful in identifying users’ preferences for learning about library products and services. For example, undergraduate students prefer e-mail notices but would also like to see announcements in the student newspaper, in the residence halls and in the high traffic areas such as the student union. Our graduate students suggest a special website for graduate students on the library’s homepage, announcements in their newsletter and more direct involvement in suggesting materials for the library’s collection. The focus on communication and marketing will require a change in staff roles to become less place-bound while assuming more creative ways to sell the library’s resources to users and non-users alike.

Inasmuch as we attempt to satisfy our users’ needs, LibQUAL+™ data provide significant user feedback, but is by no means the only tool for this purpose. Analysis of LibQUAL+™ data has prompted us to explore and delve deeper into the users’ responses to clarify the issues they raised and to glean from them directions for improvements. Focus group interviews have also been very helpful in generating qualitative data to help us listen and respond to our users. We also plan to use cards for user feedback at the time of a transaction or when exiting the library. Although other data gathering methods exist (e.g. Ask-A-Librarian service, complaints, suggestion box), the LibQUAL+™ survey provided a systematic approach and rich data that have led to a high level of open discussion among staff to address our users’ concerns. Results of LibQUAL+™ user feedback and focus group interviews are easily accessible to all library staff through electronic reserves. Additionally, we provide updates at the monthly all-staff meetings to inform everyone of the issues or pending actions to address user concerns. It is our goal to cultivate and maintain a user-centered culture through continuous assessment of our library’s programs and services.

Articulating, developing, and implementing a user-service focus remains a challenge and one that has received significant attention in our strategic directions. LibQUAL+™ is one data-gathering tool that has proven very helpful in establishing directions for gathering further information. Despite low response rates, we were able to use focus group interviews to help segment the data by user group. Even though we communicate user feedback to all staff members, we still need to develop an action plan to reflect a systematic response to address our users’ needs. Finally, we have much work to do in convincing university administrators of the value of user feedback and the need for resources that will make transformational changes toward addressing user needs.

Despite these challenges, we have renewed our sensitivity to user perceptions and established a culture of assessment in all library areas. Additionally, we have initiated data-gathering methods that have been helpful in cultivating user relations. It is our goal to participate in future LibQUAL+™ surveys to maintain a culture of assessment and user-centeredness.

Bonna Boettcher, Head of Special Collections
lorraine j. haricombe, Dean of University Libraries

University Libraries Web Site: Improved Access, New Look!

Stefanie Hunker, Coordinator of Electronic Resources and Reference Librarian

University Libraries announces the redesign of our home page and online
catalog. During the past year, the University Libraries Web Committee worked on the redesign with the twofold goal of making the features more accessible to library users and updating the look of the pages.

Committee members researched other library models, developed prototypes, and conducted user testing of the redesigned home page and online catalog with BGSU students and faculty as well as library staff. From the discussions of effective use of color and space to meaningful wording to the ordering of items on the pages, the redesign process involved a collaboration of committee members, users, and library staff.

New features of the University Libraries home page include links to Your Library Account, Reserves, and Illiad, and a graphical banner. We invite you to check out our new look: http://www.bgsu.edu/colleges/library. For additional information contact Stefanie Hunker at 419-372-7893 or sdennis@bgnet.bgsu.edu.

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