logo

“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.

Changing Our Compass: The Move to Distributed Map Service

Elizabeth Wood, Head of Information Services

During times like these when institutions of higher education are reviewing how they allocate their resources, so are we in University Libraries scrutinizing our outlays of staff, money, and physical space. In our review of operations, one opportunity for realignment of resources with users’ needs became apparent in the map collection. With decreasing reliance nationwide on paper-based map resources, use of the map collection has been declining at a precipitous rate for nearly 10 years. As part of our continuous effort to enhance services, this redistribution of resources is directed toward ensuring that our services have broad-based impact.

Several discreet action steps flowed from the questions that emerged during our review process. First, the access question: How can users find maps if they are not listed in the online catalog? Our response was an intensive project during this past summer of first culling the map collection (tailoring it more closely to curricular needs) and then temporarily redirecting staff resources to produce in excess of 4,580 additional catalog records.

Second, the question regarding availability of service: What library service points have sufficient open hours to give optimal access to maps and other cartographic information? Ogg Science Library was identified because access to these materials is available throughout the week and weekend. Accordingly, topographical maps for Ohio and contiguous states as well as the field camp states (New Mexico and Colorado) have been or are in the process of being transferred to the Science Library. Additionally, science reference librarians will be trained to assist users with basic electronic map resources.

Maps and CDs issued by the federal government contain a wealth of information about social science topics, such as population, ecological factors, the geopolitical situation, and the like (including a map series produced by the CIA) as well as the type of data from the “hard sciences.” This being the case, we decided to both move paper maps covering social science topics to the Government Document collection and also to expand current expertise in using electronic map resources issued by the federal government.

Service for government document cartographic resources now is available virtually any time the Jerome Library building is open. Users can go to the Jerome Library Reference Desk or (for more-involved research needs) help is available from the Head of Government Documents. Researchers can ask a question in person or check out maps. They also have the option of posting email queries or asking a librarian for help via our real-time, interactive, web-based chat reference service.

The third question: How to better serve Library users without an influx of additional dollars? Our responses were grounded in the imperative to re-deploy any available resources toward emerging library needs. To this end, the former coordinator of the map collection (who retains her half-time assignment as a bibliographer) has been reassigned half time to our serials unit.

Additionally, our goal for using the former Map Room space on the first floor of Jerome Library is to retrofit it to directly benefit a large segment of our user population. Issues that emerge from the strategic planning process and University Libraries Building Committee study currently underway will guide our decision.

For additional information, contact the University Libraries Dean’s Office: phone 419-372-2856.

EBSCO Brings Additions and Changes to the Research Databases

Kelly Broughton, Coordinator of Reference Services

During the summer, OhioLINK worked with the Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN) and INFOhio, the information network for Ohio k-12 schools, to negotiate a contract with the database vendor EBSCO, which allows every Ohio citizen access to a wide variety of databases. With this new contract, OhioLINK replaced the core databases Periodical Abstracts, ABI/Inform, and Newspaper Abstracts with databases provided by EBSCO, specifically Academic Search Premier, Business Source Premier, and Newspaper Source. The EBSCO databases offer a significantly larger index and more electronic full-text titles than our former core databases. Additionally, students in the College of Education now have access to the same databases as the k-12 schools, such as EBSCO Animals and Funk & Wagnall’s New World Encyclopedia.

Other new databases recently added by the University Libraries include Books24x7, Oxford Reference Library, Physical Education Abstracts, and Social Work Abstracts, and others. Off-campus access is available for all of these databases.

Books24x7 allows you to search, browse, and view the full content of hundreds of books and reports from the leading publishers of information technology and business titles.
Oxford Reference Library brings together 100 language and subject dictionaries and reference works on a wide variety of topics into a single cross-searchable resource.

Physical Education Abstracts offers citations and abstracts from 1970 to the present on a wide variety of content, including physical education curricula, sports medicine, dance, sport law, kinesiology, motor learning, recreation, standardized fitness tests, sports equipment, business and marketing, coaching and training, and sport sociology/psychology.

Social Work Abstracts contains citations and abstracts from 1977 to the present, from social work and other related journals on topics such as homelessness, AIDS, child and family welfare, aging, substance abuse, legislation, community organization, and more. This database also offers links directly to our electronic journals and print holdings information.
To access these databases, use the “Research Databases” link on the University Libraries home page or go directly to <http://maurice.bgsu.edu/search/y>.

Introducing ILLiad!

Mary Beth Zachary, Head of Access Services

University Libraries introduces ILLiad, a new, web-based, user-oriented Interlibrary Loan (ILL) system. ILLiad offers library users the opportunity to create a personal interlibrary loan account and supply personal information only once. After creating an account, users may submit requests, track the progress of requests, view their history, receive email notices of arrivals, and request renewal of materials. Faculty, staff, and graduate students may register via the ILLiad “Quick Link” on the University Libraries home page: http://www.bgsu.edu/colleges/library/ .

Interlibrary loan is a critical service used heavily by BGSU faculty and graduate students. As part of an international agreement involving thousands of libraries, we provide access to information not owned by University Libraries and much of which is not available through OhioLINK. In the past, this paper-based system required users to complete a paper form for each ILL request and repeat the same personal information on each form. Staff members in turn were required to read individual handwriting and re-key all information into a shared ILL communication system. Now, using the data supplied by the researcher via the automated ILLiad system, library staff can read the citation, identify owning institutions, and upload the data without having to re-key information.

Researchers who piloted this service found the ILLiad system easy and convenient to use, and were delighted with their ability to track requests. Both users and library staff benefit substantially. For users, requesting materials is more efficient via the Web than filling out paper forms where much of the information must be repeated. Also beneficial to users is their ability to track the progress of their requests and view their history of requests for future reference. For library staff, using time to find the best institution from which to request materials is more effective than re-keying information from handwritten forms. ILLiad enhances personal control for users and allows for a more effective use of time by library staff. It is our goal to phase out the use of paper forms this Fall semester.

If you have questions about ILLiad, please contact Mary Beth Zachary, mzachar@bgnet.bgsu.edu or ask at the supervisors at the Circulation Desks of Jerome Library or Ogg Science Library.

LibQual+: A Library User Perception Study

Bonna Boettcher, Head of Special Collections

BGSU and more than 160 institutions nationwide recently participated in the LibQual+ study, a joint project of Texas A & M University (TAMU) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). Funded by a three-year research and development grant from the Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE), researchers are refining a tool to measure users’ perceptions of library services. The tool is based on the ServQual total market survey instrument, developed by Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry. Employing the “gap” model, the survey requires participants to identify for a series of statements their minimum acceptable level of service, desired level of service, and the level their perception of the current level of service.

During March and April 2002, University Libraries LibQual+ committee members administered the survey. 523 BGSU undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff completed the survey, generating 507 usable responses. We received summary reports of the results in early July and the complete data set in early August. We extend our thanks to all BGSU community members who participated in the survey. ARL staff conducted a drawing for our local incentives-four $25.00 gift certificates from the BGSU bookstore-and the prizes were mailed to the winners early in June. Members of BGSU’s LibQual+ task force have been reviewing and analyzing the results in an effort to respond to our users’ concerns.

Major dimensions tested in the survey include Access to Information (collections and access to the collections), Affect of Service (interactions with staff and quality of those interactions), Library as Place (the physical library), and Personal Control (how much can users manage on their own, whether onsite or remotely). Generally, users’ perceptions were positive. From the responses received, it is clear that users’ experiences with library staff and many library services surpass levels identified as minimally acceptable. It is also clear, however, that we have room for improvement.

Graduate students and some faculty indicated they would like longer library hours on Fridays and Saturdays. In response to this desire, the library remained open later on Fridays and Saturdays beginning with the Fall 2002 semester. It is also clear that the physical facility needs to be improved. Although the kind of renovations necessary to address user concerns will require significant funding from the university, a committee to begin addressing the future of the building is in place. The most noticeable changes needing to occur are in the area of online and remote services. ILLiad, an online InterLibrary Loan system that allows users to submit ILL requests online and monitor the progress of their requests, is now operational at University Libraries. The software that authenticates users for remote access to research databases has been configured to work with the library patron database, ensuring that any BGSU student, staff, or faculty member with a current patron record can use the databases from off-campus locations. Additionally, online references services hours have been expanded.

From comments included in survey responses, it is clear that we have not marketed our services effectively: some users identified as “desired” services that we already provide. To respond to this and other concerns, task force members will be working with the BGSU Statistical Consulting Center to analyze our full data set. In-depth analysis will enable us to determine whether specific disciplines or user groups have concerns that should be addressed. We plan to talk with selected groups of users as we work with the data. We also plan to administer the survey again in Spring 2003. Additional initiatives to enhance “personal control” are in planning stages: watch for announcements!

Serials Management Project 2002-2003

Linda Brown, Collection Development Coordinator

This year the decreasing support from the State of Ohio had its effect on the library. A 3% reduction in the library materials’ budget coupled with soaring journal subscription costs at an annual rate of 8% to 10% resulted in pro-active steps to help us stretch our subscription dollars over as many journals as possible.

As a first step, we believed it was prudent to cancel our print subscriptions that duplicate e-journals subscriptions in the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center. In March 2002 we launched the Serials Management Project and we invited all department chairs and library representatives to review the cancellation of duplicate print subscriptions in their fields for five major publishers including Elsevier, Kluwer, Springer, Wiley, and Academic Press.

Overall, we received good cooperation from all departments that resulted in the cancellation of most of the print subscriptions that are duplicated in the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center, effective January 2003. Due to inconsistent electronic content a few titles will be continued in print. We anticipate approximately $97,000+ savings to the library materials budget due to these cancellations. The current list of titles to be cancelled is posted at the Serials Management Website at: http://www.bgsu.edu/colleges/library/infosrv/smp/smp.htm.

As you review these titles, should you notice any that present critical problems with access to journal content, please contact Linda Brown, the Collection Development Coordinator (lbrown@bgnet.bgsu.edu) no later than May 10.

We appreciate your contribution to this process and your concern for the provision of information resources for the university community. Thank you for your ideas and recommendations.

Music Listening Center Dedicated

Bonna Boettcher, Head of Special Collections

In 1998, BGSU Libraries learned of a bequest in excess of $150,000, made to the Libraries from the estate of Frank and Virginia Crawford. Mr. Crawford was a 1930 graduate of BGSU; his wife, Virginia, spent much of her career as a public school librarian. In directing the bequest to the Libraries, the Crawfords were able to honor Mr. Crawford’s alma mater and Mrs. Crawford’s profession. Linda Dobb, then Dean of Libraries and now Executive Vice President of BGSU, decided to use a substantial portion of the bequest for a much-needed renovation of the listening facilities in the Music Library and Sound Recordings Archives.

Established in 1967, the Sound Recordings Archives is an internationally known repository of more than 650,000 popular sound recordings and supporting documentation. In 1979, the Music Library was established, the two collections were merged into a single administrative unit, and expanded listening facilities were constructed. With minor modifications, those facilities were still in place well into the 1990s. Although preliminary plans for the renovation had been in place, a funding source had not been identified. The timing of the Crawford’s bequest was perfect!

The new facilities include twenty-one custom listening carrels, a staff-use control area, and custom software to control all operations. Individuals who request to listen to recordings are assigned a carrel and headphones. Staff retrieve the materials, make the necessary connections via a dedicated workstation, and load them into the appropriate component. Patrons have full volume and balance control, and for those listening to tapes and CDs, full remote capability from the carrels. All playback equipment is studio quality, providing listeners with high-quality sound.

A celebration was held on 1 March, 2002 in the Music Library and Sound Recordings Archives to honor the Crawford’s request and officially name the new listening facility the “Frank and Virginia Crawford Listening Center.”

Skip to toolbar