- 1 Information Collections and Services
- 1.1 Description of Information Collections & Services
- 1.2 Analysis & Assessment of Information Services and Collections
- 1.3 Future Aspirations and Challenges for Collections and Services
- 2 Conclusion: The Generic Library Has Come to Fruition
- 3 Standards
- 4 Supporting Documentation
Information Collections and Services
Description of Information Collections & Services
Analysis & Assessment of Information Services and Collections
Library and Computer Center Use & Satisfaction Rates
Although library and information resources provide a wide array of services, the question still remains whether the services are effective. Surveys of popularity (frequency of use and satisfaction with use), provide some insight. Institutional Research routinely surveys alumni and students about campus resources. Over time, responses regarding the Library and Computer Center have been strikingly positive. Students reported the Library and Computer Center among the most highly used services or facilities, with high user satisfaction levels as well. Library use rates were 99% in 1998; 97% in 2002; 97% for on campus users and 94.2% for off campus students in 2004. User satisfaction rates were 75.5% somewhat or very satisfied in 1998 and 85% somewhat or very satisfied in 2002. The student experience survey (ESES) of 2006 reports that 95% of respondents use the library. Computer Center users were 94% of respondents in 1998, 96% in 2002 and 92% for on campus students and 93.4% for off campus students in 2004. In the 2006 student experience survey, 88.5% of students reported using the computer center.
Despite the radically changing information environment, the physical library has experienced only a slight reduction in use: 4% from 1998 to 2006. The Computer Center also has enjoyed heavy use over time, with some reduction in 2006 as more and more students use their own laptops on campus; the survey that year showed that 91% of students have their own computers. Satisfaction rates for the Library and Computer Center remain the highest for any services on campus.
Starting in 2006, the ESES included questions about using library resources online and found that 85.2% of respondents use online library resources. Internal records also suggest phenomenal growth in online use of library resources. In 2000, when the library subscribed to three aggregate databases (Proquest, Ebscohost and JSTOR), users conducted 80,000 searches. In 2006, with approximately 30 subscription databases, there were more than 262,677 searches. Careful review of variations of use from year to year reveals the direct impact a fluid curriculum has on database use. For example, Modern Language Association International Bibliography statistics are quite erratic; one major project in a large academic program explains a five-fold increase of use in one year. As JSTOR has developed into a more deeply and broadly multi-interdisciplinary tool, use statistics show a shift away from heavy dependence on the less scholarly aggregates. Extensive lobbying by faculty and librarians encourages this shift toward use of scholarly resources such as JSTOR.
Media Services User Surveys
ESES also surveyed students about their use of Media Services, which showed 48% use of Media Loan and 89.6% somewhat or very satisfied. This data has been supplemented by Media Services staff member, Lin Crowley, who surveyed campus members about their use of Media Services for a Masters in Public Administration project. Crowley designed her project to include use statistics and user satisfaction. Crowley’s respondents reported an average satisfaction level for each service ranging from 3.07 to 3.62 (out of 4), which indicated that those who used current services were generally fairly satisfied with each of the services that they use.
Although respondents to Crowley’s survey were predominantly active Media Services users, many respondents were uninformed about some media services. Respondents supported investment in new digital technologies, but most were unaware of new or planned digital facilities. One clear conclusion of the survey is that visibility and access could be better for some media services. For instance, suggested improvements often focussed on access, whether longer hours, more workshops or more facilities. The survey project director recommended that future follow-up surveys be conducted to compare whether the reasons people use each service change and to evaluate the satisfaction levels for each type of services by patron types. [Exhibit: Crowley. Media Service Survey]
Comparing Use Statistics With Other Libraries
In 2002, the Library entered SUMMIT, a consortium of 4-year colleges and universities across Washington and Oregon, which allows students to make on-line requests and have items mailed quickly to Evergreen. Of the five institutions in Washington which added the service at the same time, Evergreen had the fastest take-off. Evergreen patrons borrowed 9,723 during the first year, more than any other library, even though Evergreen was by far the smallest institution in the consortium at that time. At ten times Evergreen’s size, the University of Washington borrowed just under 7,000 items during that first year. It took a year for the University of Washington to surpass Evergreen, while other institutions had not done so even in 2006. Although one might assume that small collection size drives this higher demand, the fact is that Evergreen students also use their local collection at higher rates than their peers in the SUMMIT consortium.
The Evergreen community adapted quickly to SUMMIT because the library, with its strong connections to faculty and the curriculum, communicated effectively about the service, showcasing the new service in the many instructional sessions typical of any Fall quarter. Lower early use rates at other institutions may be partially the result of staff deliberately implementing the service at a more measured pace. On the other hand, the Evergreen Circulation department chose to implement SUMMIT at full force, successfully assuming the institutional impact of this significant change and assuring success.
National library statistics for 2004 provide the opportunity to compare liberal arts college use statistics with those of small masters level universities (Carnegie Class Masters I), with surprising results. The most basic level of use which is collected is gatecount: How many people entered the library? Evergreen’s average gate count per FTE was 1.8, Masters universities were at 1.4 and Liberal arts colleges averaged 2.77. At the next, more engaged level of library use, the patron checks out a book. At the third level, the patron identifies materials from libraries beyond his own and requests an interlibrary loan (ILL). These last two levels of service are confused within the SUMMIT consortium (and perhaps other nationally) because the books borrowed from another library may be counted as either circulations or interlibrary loans. Thus, these two categories of use must be combined. The comparisons speak to Evergreen library’s dynamic patronage: students borrow (via ILL and circulation) an average of 36 items, while the masters level institutions borrow only 1.55, and the liberal arts colleges nationally borrow an average of 34.
The same dramatic distinction between liberal arts colleges and universities appears in the SUMMIT consortium, which covers a full gamut of colleges and universities in Oregon and Washington. Following is a chart which ranks the top 15 of the 31 libraries in the region based upon their rates of use of SUMMIT. Evergreen places high on the list, among the most highly ranked liberal arts colleges, all well above usage rates at more comprehensive institutions.
|Library||# Items borrowed||FTE||Items/FTE|
|G. Fox U.||14,427||2,392||6.03|
|E. Ore. U.||4,620||2,306||2.00|
Looking at national data, the following table compares the averages of various commonly used Evergreen peer groups:
Evergreen students use their library in ways that reflect a strong commitment to the practices of liberal arts colleges. Colleges that significantly surpass Evergreen’s use rates often require significant student project work such as a senior thesis project. For instance, Reed College shows 120 items per student and New College of Florida, 89. Both colleges require senior theses.
Comparing IT Facilities with Other Institutions
The information technology consultant Edutech compared Evergreen’s budget for IT with peer institutions. Edutech compared Evergreen to similar schools on the basis of physical environment, enrollment numbers, education goals and aspirations, residential nature, tuition, and governance structure and determined that Evergreen devotes considerable resources to IT and is consistent with its peers in that regard. In 2005, Evergreen’s expenditure on IT—expressed as a percentage of total institutional expenditures—was 6.7%. This percentage aligns with the 6.7% reported by Computing in a 2006 survey of public four-year colleges. The average for all institutions was 6.5%.
Responsiveness to Rapid Change in the Information Environment
Among the organizations included in library and information resources, the Library is the largest and most embedded in professional traditions and may be the most invested in preexisting structures and assumptions. How well does the Library balance the competing demands of conservation, teaching, and technological adaptation and innovation? As librarians rotate into the full-time curriculum, they temporarily leave behind reference work, management, administration, and collection development. Any sustained work, such as web-page development, is interrupted by these regular absences. On the other hand, full-time teaching faculty rotate into library as neophytes who need training and who present with widely disparate skills, abilities, and ambitions. Beyond the system of rotation—with its concomitant duties-- librarians are contractually obligated to participate in college governance, curriculum planning, not to mention their own scholarly projects and sabbaticals. Further, librarians have nine-month contracts and are often absent during the summer sessions when the Library is minimally staffed. These organizational facts mean that Evergreen has no managerial class of librarians. Instead, the team of faculty librarians share management with staff. Paraprofessionals head almost all departments, including Circulation, Government Publications, Periodicals, Technical Services, and Acquisitions. Their year-round presence and regular workdays provide consistency for development of services, maintenance of collections, public service, and supervision of both classified staff and students workers. In this collaborative environment, staff often lead the way in adopting new services. The tremendous commitment by the staff grounds the Library and makes it an ideal teaching environment. The success of the Library’s flat organization can be measured by the impressive way in which the Library group has responded to institutional and profession-wide changes and challenges. Achievements/Changes lists major changes in services, faculties and collections implemented during the study period—most responding to opportunities provided by technological developments.
Future Aspirations and Challenges for Collections and Services
NB: As in the teaching section, retell strengths as bit before launching into challenges and aspirations
Continue Blending More Functions within Library and Information Resources
Library and information resources support a surprisingly diverse infrastructure of technologies and media in the curriculum. For greatest efficiency, library and information resources should considered even more coordination across boundaries to provide technology support. Students should be able to move seamlessly between different areas, such as CAL, MML, and the Computer Center. Certainly, the pathways between areas could be more clearly articulated by identifying and developing more common services, including printing, building and maintaining image sets, server filespace, and common software. By taking better advantage of the network infrastructure, students will experience less confusion, and IT staff who directly support the curriculum could dedicate more energy toward coordinating, developing and designing IT strategies with academic programs instead of maintaining redundant infrastructures.
Library and information resources need to develop a shared perspective about their public presence. One possibility for representing the blended facilities and services is a central help desk for the information technology wing. Once the central staircase is removed, the shared entrance to the wing will become a prominent architectural feature and an opportunity to reshape the community’s understanding of what the areas collectively represent. A central help desk could provide basic information about facilities, services, and staff, and it would help facilitate how efficiently patrons move between the various floors of the wing. Continued attention to the best use of the Library Underground and how to assure its connection to other floors should be part of this process; a large, flexible teaching and gathering space is developing there and appropriate equipment will be needed to support that vision. Concurrently, assuring safe conditions for the adjacent Archives and Rare Books Collections are critical.
Construction of the CCAM will begin soon. This project has distinct relevance to the changing roles of Media Services, the Library and Academic Computing within the evolving digital liberal arts. The CCAM will comprise a collection of media production studios and equipment to complement and complete existing Media Services and Academic Computing media resources and provide the primary bridge between the campus media infrastructure and networked digital resources. For a discussion of the CCAM and related curricular projects see Center for Creative and Applied Media.
The Library will continue to actively develop a new library front page and database search pages. The library is currently engaged in discussions with the college web designers about maintaining the library front page while still allowing library control of most content. The Orbis-Cascade consortium may develop a shared catalog front-page, which the library will consider as well. The reference group is testing an improved federated searching system, having found that last product unsatisfactory.
The last self-study emphasized the library audio/visual collection. Since then, one-time funds have frequently been infused, and the collection has grown significantly. SAIL staff and selectors have emphasized both new titles and replacement of older formats and worn copies. The library anticipates circulating the collection through SUMMIT, which will increase wear.
Selectors will continue recently implemented decision to purchase various formats from their funds allocated for print monographs if desired, but a stable and larger allocation for the SAIL budget will lessen the need to do so and reduce variations in expenditures, workload and processing. The Resource Selection Committee is currently reviewing materials budgets with the intention of reallocating funds according to the curricular demands for video and digitized reference resources. If these discussions result in a larger budget for SAIL, there will be more work, but also more consistency. Additionally, the staff will be more deeply involved in researching web-based media collections. This additional workload represents a challenge for SAIL.
Digital collection development should go forward in concert with the push to digitize archival collections, including photographs, video, and copies of faculty artwork. The CCAM will take the lead in this ongoing project.
Because of the SUMMIT and ILLiad systems, the collections do not need to be designed to support individual students who engage in inquiries that lie outside the collection profile. However, SUMMIT use will also allow the library to identify whether there are any consistent weaknesses in the collection that show up as subject areas driving high borrowing rates from other institutions. The data from SUMMIT should be analyzed over a three year period, due to the fluidity of the curriculum, at which point the Library will decide if such data are useful in guiding collection development.
The library will continue to take advantage of the significantly increased purchasing power created by consortial agreements for periodical and other database purchases. The library needs to keep an eye on the time and expertise necessary to keep up with the ever-increasing work of evaluating these agreements, purchases and contracts and the technical work to support electronic resources and may want to consider creating a position for managing electronic resources. A centralized specialist working on electronic resources would potentially help the selectors, by consistently researching and disseminating information about new products.
Overall, long-standing assumptions about budgets for collections must be re-evaluated. While major cuts were made to the monographic budget early in the study period and were only partially restored over time, it is not clear that simply restoring those funds and adding funds for inflation are the desirable next moves. The Resource Selection Committee will need to continue to explore more flexible responses to a rapidly changing publishing environment in order to match collection budgets to evolving research needs.
Private fundraising and access to indirect cost funds associated with grants have helped close the collection development gap in some cases, such as the SAIL budget. LIR has also begune to receive private support for equipment and facilities projects as well. More work with the Development Office of the College should be emphasized as many alumni have demonstrated willingness to support the library and information resources. [links to FOEL activities, non-state funds spent on collections]
Support for Rapidly Evolving Information Technology
While the Edutech report gave Evergreen good marks for its budgetary support of information technology, the report also recommended that “to follow current best practices, the replacement cycle should be permanently funded and the operations budgets need to be raised regularly to reflect the increase in technology-equipped classrooms, the increased number of servers and desktop computers that must be supported, and other increases in the technology base.” The college has begun to address this issue, proposing permanent line items in the next biennium for replacing the core server and desktops. This movement toward more permanent allocations for replacement and repair will help ensure that the infrastructure can support the curriculum. Although ITCH can play only an advisory role, it has participated actively in the process of establishing permanent allocations, setting priorities, and sharing resources.
The remodeled Information Technology Wing and the construction of Seminar II created dramatically more technology-equipped teaching spaces. There are now 49 media and computer-capable classrooms. Labs are equipped with computers for each student, and most classrooms now include a computer along with projection and display systems. The library plans to convert one classroom in the Library Underground to a lab, and teaching spaces on campus still without computers or display technology, such as the Arts Annex, should be equipped. At this point, library and information resources can adequately support the computer facilities distributed across campus, but that’s about it. As more spaces are computerized and enrollment creeps up toward the target of 5,000, the college will have to add additional resources—human and technological.
As media technology has changed, some faculty choose to continue teaching older analog equipment, often for good pedagogical and aesthetic reasons. This generates a daunting task for Media Loan as they stretch to maintain, house, and teach a very wide array of portable equipment. Media Loan should work with the Expressive Arts faculty and other major users to reduce the range of Media Loan equipment necessary to support the curriculum.
Conclusion: The Generic Library Has Come to Fruition
Library and information resources has been deeply influenced by the organizational habits of the college, habits of collaboration, egalitarian ideals, fluidity, face-to-face interactions, non-departmentalization, and interdisciplinary inquiry. The result is a responsive, flexible, evolving set of services and resources. Library and information resources faculty and staff work across the digital divide, regardless of where services reside administratively, in order to fuse traditional library services, information services, computing, and media. Library and information resources assess technology within the context of Evergreen’s particular curriculum and implement new applications incrementally in collaborative processes involving all three areas of service and the teaching faculty. As part of that work, library and information resources have had the distinct historical advantage of presuming that information comes in all formats and that it is not only possible but advisable to break down as many barriers as possible to access information in all its forms. In this, library and information resources are shaped by their founding vision, the generic library, an idea whose time is come.
Executive summaries plus links to the full discussion of the sub-sections of Standard 5