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.