Library and information resources planning activities support teaching and learning functions by facilitating the research and scholarship of students and faculty. Related evaluation processes regularly assess the quality, accessibility, and use of libraries and other information resource repositories and their services to determine the level of effectiveness in support of the educational program.
Consistent with an institution constantly engaged in processes of narrative and other forms of assessment, library and information resources engage in and are the subject of extensive assessment both internally and externally through Institutional Research and Assessment. In addition to formal annual processes such as budget building and annual library faculty retreats, the results of these assessments feed into the development of ongoing teaching and services through the many face-to-face interactions which inform all operations.
- 1 Participatory Planning
- 2 Planning Linkages
- 3 Evaluation
- 3.1 Evaluation 0f Information Services and Collections
- 3.2 Future Aspirations and Challenges for Collections and Services
- 3.3 Future Aspirations and Challenges for Instruction
- 4 Conclusion: The Generic Library Has Come to Fruition
5.E.1 The institution has a planning process that involves users, library and information resource staff, faculty, and administrators.
Overall Planning for Collections & Services
The academic community views the Library as a center for teaching, which means that collections and resources reflect the curriculum. In fact, all of Library services are defined by the fluidity of interdisciplinary and individual study. The Dean of Library Services strengthens the ties between Academics and Library and Media Services through meeting weekly with the Provost, Associate Vice President for Academic Budget and Planning and the Academic Dean of Budget and the weekly Academic Deans meeting. Once a month, the Director of Computing & Communications and the Manager of Academic Computing also join the Academic Deans meeting.
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.
Any major policy discussions or long-term planning processes invoke the college-wide DTF structure.
See Participatory Decision-Making Culture (Standard 1 Section 2.3) and Standard 6.
The College budget process and schedule drives most mid-term library planning. The College budget process is described in Standard 7 Section 7.A.3
A suggestions and responses bulletin board is being re-established on a new library information kiosk.
Faculty who rotate into the Library identify projects as well as collection development they wish to address.
An annual Reference Services Group retreat, which includes the Dean of Library Services, establishes the year's work before classes start in the fall.
5.E.2 The institution, in its planning, recognizes the need for management and technical linkages among information resource bases (e.g., libraries, instructional computing, media production and distribution centers, and telecommunications networks).5.E.2
Planning Across LIR
The Information Technology Collaborative Hive (ITCH) provides the most formal mechanism for collaboration around technology across the various parts of the college. Evergreen supports three ITCH groups: Academic, Administrative, and Core. The Academic ITCH meets at least once a month and includes professional staff from each of the primary technology labs, faculty, and interested students. The Academic ITCH coordinates general academic IT initiatives, helps develop general academic computing policy, and guides strategic planning. Professional staff members in each of the primary technology areas have developed strong connections to discipline-specific slices of the curriculum, faculty and academic administration. As ITCH develops, the members will explore ways to communicate and plan in cross-disciplinary and cross-divisional programs. ITCH provides one of the necessary cross-curricular and cross-division contexts for developing information technology across administratively distinct areas.
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.
5.E.3 The institution regularly and systematically evaluates the quality, adequacy, and utilization of its library and information resources and services, including those provided through cooperative arrangements, and at all locations where courses, programs, or degrees are offered. The institution uses the results of the evaluations to improve the effectiveness of these resources.
Institutional Research and Assessment provides annual survey documentation on LIR services several of which are broken down by campus [asked Jennifer to send files for Tacoma and Res-Based as well].
Narrative self and peer evaluation of library faculty provide a forum for ongoing analysis within the larger culture of constant evaluation and assessment. [sp needs to compile relevant pieces for this and get oks from authors]
Evaluation 0f 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%.
Future Aspirations and Challenges for Collections and Services
NB: As in the teaching section, retell strengths as bit before launching into challenges and aspirations
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.
Future Aspirations and Challenges for Instruction
NB: In this section, I need to re-emphasize what is going well in addition to challenges and aspirations.
Individual library faculty are spending more time out of the library teaching in the curriculum as a result of the loss of one library faculty line to budget cuts. This takes it toll on affairs internal to the library. Specifically, the librarians can’t attend consistently to administration; they struggle to support all areas of the curriculum; and they have not been able to respond to proposed increases in hours for the reference desk. Further, reference desk service has changed as the Internet creates patrons who access our resources from remote locations. Most immediately, virtual patrons do not benefit from the teaching that takes place at the reference desk. As the physical reference desk diminishes in importance, faculty who rotate into the library have more limited opportunities to learn about library resources through interactions with patrons. These trends, challenges, and problems should inform the reference group as they consider how to proceed in allocating team responsibilities with or without an increase in the number of library faculty.
The reference group should evaluate service to areas of the curriculum that report or demonstrate less involvement in the various forms of information technology instruction (as reflected in end of program reports)and consider whether more or different instructional support would be appropriate or desirable. For instance, one of the science librarians retired, leaving one librarian to cover all SI programs. Because this librarian teaches intensively in a few programs, some SI programs may be underserved. This may contribute to the tendency of SI programs to report less work with library research in programs. Thus, the next library faculty hire should probably emphasize scientific expertise. [Revise for 2006/07 EPR data]
The science librarian who does intensive, embedded instruction, works with students as they write bibliographies, which become the basis for evaluating the effectiveness of student research. Some of the other librarians evaluate bibliographies as well. This approach could be more broadly applied to programs across the curriculum, where students are required to research competently and to represent their work clearly in bibliographies, abstracts, research papers, essays and stories. Faculty librarians may want to explore evaluating research results more commonly as they develop their ties with programs and faculty in all disciplines. As librarians become more involved in each stage of research, including writing or production, they should be able to provide more consistent support to students. Of course, this more intensive work with individual programs must be restricted according to the time and energy of the small library faculty team. Variations in the academic year cycle, which show significantly lighter workshop demands in winter, as compared to fall quarter, suggest one strategy for extending this service. This may also be an area to which rotating faculty can contribute.
Academic Computing and the Library Faculty should explore connections with the Quantitative and Writing Centers. The many overlapping values and concerns of these areas seem obvious. In fact, the barriers that persist seem to reflect different philosophies of service—specifically, of public service—rather than intractably divergent views of teaching and learning. For instance, students do a great deal of the teaching in the writing center, whereas faculty librarians consider teaching to be the center of their work. Yet everyone agrees that student-centered instruction is one of the best modes of learning.
Cross-Curricular Information Technology Literacy
As discussed above, library and information resources and the teaching faculty assure that information technology infuses the curriculum. On the other hand, the faculty has not embraced any particular set of information technology skills as fundamental to the liberal arts undergraduate at Evergreen. Instead, faculty choose and adapt information and media technologies according to the pedagogical and disciplinary requirements of their chosen inquiry. There is little work across the curriculum about critical approaches to media or basic definitions of college level technical literacy for the liberal arts. In the immediate future, library and information resources should invite the teaching faculty into a discussion about whether the campus has any broad consensus about ITL, including critical approaches. Long ago, the college committed to writing across the curriculum and allocated significant institutional resources to encourage that work—without proscriptive limits or standards. A wider discussion about ITL could produce a similar vision and institutional support. In the long run, such a vision will shape our understanding of digital scholarship in the liberal arts.
The shift of some entry-level media production instruction to from Media Services to Academic Computing raises questions about the staffing assumptions in Academic Computing. If critical approaches to information technology are to be addressed and if cross-curricular information technology literacy is a priority for the contemporary liberal arts, then instructional staffing based on historical models of canned skills workshops may be insufficient. Academic Computing needs to be staffed sufficiently with instructors who have both time and expertise to work intensively in program planning, curriculum development, as well as technical skills development, as has historically been the case in the Library and Media Services.
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.