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.
- 1 Evaluating Information Services and Collections
- 2 Evaluation of Teaching & Instructional Programs: Information Technology Literacy
- 3 Participatory Planning (Standard 5.E.1)
- 4 Planning Linkages (Standard 5.E.2)
- 5 Evaluation and The Future (Standard 5.E.3)
- 6 Conclusion: Holly's Generic Library Has Come to Fruition
Evaluating Information Services and Collections
Assessments of Evergreen's library and information resources confirm support for the academic mission of the college as a public liberal arts college which expects a substantial number of students to engage in self-selected independent inquiry. Utilization patterns among Evergreen students correlate closely to the intensive use found among library arts colleges as opposed to lower use rates found among more comprehensive institutions.
Comparing Use Statistics With Other Libraries
In 2002, Washington's four-year public baccalaureate institutions implemented the Cascade resource sharing consortium. This start-up provided an amazing new service and also an opportunity to assess how rapidly a major new service might be implemented. 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. Although ten times bigger than Evergreen, 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. The quick acceptance of Cascade testified to the efficient connection between the library, library instruction and the teaching faculty and curriculum at large.
Cascade became Orbis/Cascade as the Washington and Oregon academic consortia merged. The new on-line resource sharing service, entitled Summit, provides ongoing circulation comparative statistics. To continue comparison within the original members of Cascade, in 2007, Evergreen borrowed 4.52 per FTE; almost 4 times the next heaviest user at 1.15 items borrowed per student. Although one might assume that small collection size drives this higher demand, the fact is that the Evergreen collection circulates at a high rate per student as well, according to federal IPEDS data.
IPEDS data for 2006 also provide the opportunity to compare use statistics of liberal arts colleges with Evergreen and with small masters level universities (Carnegie Class Masters I), where strong distinctions appear again. When both circulation and interlibrary loan are counted, Evergreen circulates 31 items per FTE, liberal arts colleges national average 24 items per FTE and the Masters I institutions circulate 8.34 per FTE. [take a look at numbers with Summit loans deleted]
The same dramatic distinction between liberal arts colleges and comprehensive institutions appears in the Summit consortium, which covers a full gamut of colleges and universities in Oregon and Washington. Following is a table which lists the heaviest users from the member libraries, based upon their rates of use per FTE in 2006. 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|
(Source: | Summit Borrowing Statistics FY06)
Thus it is clear that Evergreen library utilization mirrors the practices of liberal arts colleges. High use rates also seem to reflect an academic emphasis on major student projects. For instance, Reed College, which requires a senior thesis, circulates or borrows 120 items per student.
Library and Computer Center Use & Satisfaction Rates
The comparative data above demonstrates that library and information resources are comparatively well-utilized. While high rates of use suggest something about effectiveness, surveys of popularity (frequency of use and satisfaction with use), provide further affirmation. Institutional Research routinely surveys alumni and students about campus resources. A summary of campus resource utilization (See Alumni Surveys 2002-2006 - Campus Resource Utilization)shows that over the six year period, the Library and the computing facilities have been the top two most used campus facilities, trading off for first place. Percentage of alumni who were somewhat or very satisfied with the services has been in each year and for each service between 87% and 92%.
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 journal databases (Proquest, Ebscohost and JSTOR), users conducted 80,000 searches. In 2007, among approximately 30 subscription databases, there were well over 250,000 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. Use statistics for periodicals and databases drive selection and instruction planning. When use statistics are low for a database seen by the library faculty as critical to a discipline or of particularly high academic value, then library instruction is focused on that database whenever appropriate.
Media Services User Surveys
The ESES also asked students about their use of Media Services, which showed 48% use of Media Loan and 89.6% somewhat or very satisfied. A survey designed and implemented by staff member Lin Crowley supplemented this data. 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 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 services. 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. See TESC Media Services Assessment Project
Evaluation of Teaching & Instructional Programs: Information Technology Literacy
The strong focus on teaching throughout library and information resources suggests the following questions: 1) In a college without requirements, does information technology instruction reach enough students to assure that the vast majority of graduates develop their skills broadly in support of their inquiries? 2) Which students are taught? Do students receive their information technology instruction in an array of disciplinary and developmentally varied situations or is it happening only in pockets of the curriculum? 3) Is it working? Are students acquiring cross-curricular information technology, including media literacy?
How many students are taught?
Within recent years about 3,000 students, or 75% of the total FTE, attends program-based library instruction workshops annually. These statistics exclude most cases of repeated contacts with the same student. [Exhibit: workshop statistics].
In media services, from 2000 to 2007, a total of more than 1500 workshops were offered to approximately 156 programs. The number of media workshops given and students reached in 2005 and 2006 were each more than double the numbers provided in 2000. Workshops have increased along with new technologies, especially in Media Loan and in the new Multimedia and DIS labs.
The majority of instruction provided by the Academic Computing and CAL instructors serve specific academic programs. These sessions are represented in the following table:
|Computer Applications Lab||50/1368||50/1248||52/1344|
Up until 2007, Academic Computing offered 30 to 40 general computer skills workshops per year in the Computer Center, attended by approximately 350 students. Professional staff focused these workshops on general technical skill building, independent of academic programs. Fewer students were attending these workshops over time, presumably because more students consider themselves technically literate. In response to waning attendance, Academic Computing redesigned the workshops as student-centered support sessions to which students bring their questions or projects. This student-centered structure should more effectively meet the specific demands of students. Computing will evaluate the success of this reinvented structure.
The number of teaching contacts shows that library and information resources staff teach a large number of programs, but not which programs in what parts of the curriculum. In end-of-program reviews from 2001-2006, The Office of Institutional Research asked faculty, “Did your students use technology to present work, conduct research (including library research), or solve problems? If yes, How?” Not surprisingly, faculty answered that library/internet research skills were the most commonly used at 50%, followed by some form of presentation technology. Ninty percent of programs reported some substantial use of information technology. Summary of Information Technology Literacy Emphasis in Programs
In 2006/07, the wording of the question was revised to more accurately identify programs where there was intentional focus on teaching ITL: "Did your program include activities to improve information technology literacy?" Seventy percent of programs reported including ITL. End-of-program Review Results for 2006-07 - Information Technology Literacy by Planning Unit
In 2006/07, a follow-up question asked specifically which kind of technology was taught. Significantly different technologies predominate in different parts of the curriculum. No standard set of applications comes into play, although as of 2006/07 presentation technologies (at 42% of all programs) have increased by 70% over their use in the 2001 to 2006 reports and now begin to rival library and internet research in their prevalence at 50%. Online communication applications were reported by 32% of programs, an increase of 19% over the 2001 to 2006 data.
Reservation-Based programs reported library and internet research at the highest rate, at 100% of programs. At the other end of the spectrum, Culture/Text/Language was lowest with 21% reporting library or internet searching. The remainder of planning units ranged between 43% and 50% library/internet use, with Core at the low end with 43%.
The substantial move toward presentation media and online communication drive increases in multi-media applications. Presentation technology and online communication applications encourage the use of still and moving images, sound clips, graphs and charts. They mix these media with traditional print communication written by students or linked from web resources. These media and print applications also involve basic, commonly used applications of information technology, but easily migrate into more advanced media production. The increasing presence of multi-media information technology in Evergreen's learning communities drives further demand upon Media Services and upon Academic Computing, along with increased overlap of their teaching and service roles.
Since its inception in the context of Holly’s generic library, Media Services has followed its mission to support media literacy and instruction across the curriculum. Over the last ten years, media services have changed dramatically as the personal computer has become the platform for entry-level media production and consumption. One measure of this change has materialized in how media staff have served programs through formal workshops since Fall of 2000. The scheduling data shows that almost 90% of formal program-based workshops serve Expressive Arts faculty. While this scheduling data does not cover equipment proficiency workshops or one-on-one instruction, it’s nevertheless clear that formal instruction by media staff focuses heavily on Expressive Arts programs, with an emphasis on advanced production applications, the exclusive provenance of expressive arts faculty. Media Services provides this advanced instruction in specialized labs, which were enhanced and expanded during the remodel. One effect of this specialization is that entry-level students have migrated to Academic Computing where the staff works in collaboration with media staff to provide instruction on basic media production applications. In fact, during Fall and Winter of 2006/07, 68% of the faculty who requested workshops in Computer Center were from planning units other than Expressive arts, and many of these workshops included media instruction (Photoshop, Imovie, Flash, etc.).
Just as in the Computer Center, the Computer Applications Lab also shows a trend toward more broadly used applications. Although the CAL has traditionally focused on the science curriculum in ES and SI, these users have begun to share their space with those who have less specialized demands. Roughly 60%-70% of the classes in the CAL now work with statistical or numeric analysis, primarily Excel, but also including Graphical Analysis, R, and SPSS. Ninety percent of CAL users prepare presentations, most often with Powerpoint, Word, Illustrator, and Excel. Approximately 60% of the programs meeting in the CAL still use analytical tools, including (in order of usage) ArcGIS, Mathematica, and Stella, which were once the focal point of all CAL applications. Science faculty have shifted their emphasis to on-site analysis, using advanced applications in specialized scientific labs in ways that parallel the shift in Media Services toward advanced applications. Meanwhile, the CAL and the Computer Center serve increasing numbers of students who seek instruction or support for the more and more powerful personal computing applications in media production, statistical analysis and presentation media.
Does Library Instruction Result in ITL Gains?
The Library, consistent with college-wide practices, rejects requirements and embraces students who engage in open inquiry and independent judgment. In this context, the Library supports a fluid curriculum and responds to changes that drive the needs and expectations of an innovative teaching faculty. Because the Library shapes teaching according to individual students, a fluid curriculum, and highly diverse pedagogy, standard or standardized assessment methods do not apply. Instead, the Library commits to the intensive and never ending task of recreating learning goals, student-by-student, program-by-program. Context is everything, which obviates the role of abstract standards and measures.
On the other hand, the Library does engage in qualitative assessment, the descriptive characterization of ITL teaching and learning. As is the case throughout the faculty, library faculty write annual evaluations of themselves and their library and teaching colleagues. These evaluations consistently address instructional aspirations, successes and failures. [Exhibits: Library Faculty Evaluations]
Further, under the leadership of the Office of Institutional Research, the librarians designed a project that assessed students as they worked through real research inquiries. The study, The Activity of Information Literacy, documented the techniques and processes and even the thinking of several small samples of students as they collaborated intensively on research questions. The study showed that these particular students were stronger in their grasp of content than they were in their command of library research tools for their specific inquiries. In other words, a question about history might not lead them to Historical Abstracts. They were also strong in their ability to develop their research questions and to evaluate and synthesize the results. What these results suggest is that “Faculty may want to assess their students’ abilities to obtain information and offer tutorials or refer students to the Library when deficiencies are detected.”
Beyond the immediate results, this qualitative assessment also suggested that the students benefited greatly when they collaborated. Certainly, this observation is corroborated by the gains that students make when they work together in skill building instead of in canned computer workshops outside of programs. Additionally, peer groups are widely used across the curriculum as a way to encourage students to develop research topics and individual projects. Given the results of the qualitative assessment and given the widely practiced use of peer groups, library faculty should seek ways to implement collaborative research activities when they link their instruction to programs. This model of cooperation would build on the more isolated collaborations that take place, as a matter of course, between librarians and students at the reference desk. An enlarged vision of this basic transaction—discussion, exploration, and brainstorming—will enhance the relevance and effectiveness of library teaching and workshops.
Student Assessment of their ITL Learning
The Evergreen Student Experience Survey asks questions which elucidate what the students themselves think they learned at Evergreen. In the 2006, the ESES asked "To what extent have your Evergreen experiences contributed to your growth in ... the following computer-related fields...?" For the category 'Studying or Doing Research via the Internet or other online sources":
- 30.5% of Olympia campus students reported at least some contribution;
- 47.5% reported quite a bit or a lot, for a total of 77.5%.
- More than 84% of Tacoma students reported at least some, of which 50% reported quite a bit.
- More than 93% of reservation-based students reported at least some contribution; 86.2% reporting quite a bit or a lot.
These statistics correlate well with the end-of-program review and instructional data cited earlier. Considering just how many students seem to express self-confidence in their research skills, and as the internet provides so many increasingly powerful tools for personal research, it is heartening to see that a good majority of students think that they developed their research skills as part of their education at Evergreen.
The ESES 2006 also asked about "Using the computer for artistic expression (e.g. music, other audio, still images, animation, video, etc.":
- Just over 42% reported Evergreen contributed "Some", "Quite a Bit" or "A Lot"
- Fully 36.8% said "Not at All"
- and 20.9% said "Very Little."
Again, this correlates with end-of-program surveys.
The ESES 2006 surveyed use of non-artistic computer tools, asking about specific types of applications such as spreadsheets, GIS, web development, posters, or programming. In general, as was found in end of program reviews, no single type of computer application dominated. No application type was used by more than 50% of students; instead different types of applications were used by smaller subsets of the students surveyed. This correlates with the 40-50% rates found in End of Year program reports.
Participatory Planning (Standard 5.E.1)
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.
Within the Edutech TESC Information Environment Review, Area 5 discussed planning and governance in the Evergreen information environment. The review was somewhat critical of the lack of coordination in support, planning and governance of IT across campus and advocated for a stronger role for ITCH, an organization which links library, media and computing managers and instructors. However, the report did not note how the teaching function and role in Academic Computing, CAL and Media Services drives strong collaboration in all service and instruction design. The interconnection of the instructional role with the planning and support functions drives the efficacy of all the services in these areas.
Placing library and information resources within the larger ethos of the college, any major policy discussions or long-term planning processes invoke the participatory 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
Additional opportunities for community contributions to planning include faculty who rotate into the Library who focus on collection development and other planning projects. An annual Reference Services Group retreat establishes the year's work before classes start in the fall. Faculty development reviews, also known as five-year reviews and faculty institutes also provide opportunities for conversations across campus about a range of teaching, learning and service questions as they impact information services. Finally, the library internship program provided a reading seminar within which library faculty, staff and interns could discuss changing information technology and its cultural meaning. The librarians often engage in faculty reading seminars, frequently focused on library issues, where shared thinking about the future of libraries evolves.
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 respond to opportunities provided by technological developments. External engagement in consortia has begun to drive technological developments; this relieves any single library from having to research and develop new technologies on their own and has made many of Evergreen's achievements possible.
Planning Linkages (Standard 5.E.2)
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.
ITCH created a strategic plan in conjunction with the campus-wide Strategic Planning process in 2007. Strategic Direction number 7 addresses technology. The statement is notable for the breadth of its concerns, with aspirations addressing media, library and computing technology:
7. Use technology to enhance teaching and learning and administrative support at Evergreen. Evergreen will intentionally foster secure, sustainable, flexible, easy-to-use, and accessible information technologies (IT) that support and enhance our teaching and learning philosophies and the administrative needs of the institution. Evergreen’s continuing commitment to technology and media literacies as critical components of a liberal arts education has led us to re-envision our Television Studio into a Center for New Media [now entitled the Center for Creative and Applied Media (CCAM)] that will provide cross curricular and extra curricular support for computer mediated production, performance, interactivity, teleconferencing, live broadcasts, digital image storage, processing, re-broadcasting and format conversion for all areas of the college. Accuracy and quality of information will improve and strong support will make technology and a broad range of information services available to on-and off-campus users. Security requirements of networks, software, hardware and data will be met while ensuring appropriate user access, including control of access to confidential information and the need for academic exploration. Classroom spaces will be technologically current and functional for meeting curricular needs.
The complete Strategic Plan Wiki provides more detail.
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 could 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.
Evaluation and The Future (Standard 5.E.3)
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.
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 within library and information resources and externally through Institutional Research and Assessment surveys and studies. 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 constant face-to-face interactions among faculty, administrators, staff and students which inform all operations. Institutional Research and Assessment, as cited throughout this report, provides annual surveys about library and information resources, several of which are broken down by campus.
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 is migrating to a new platform, which the library will consider for local use as well. The reference group is testing an improved federated searching system, having found that last product unsatisfactory.
The continue expansion of audio/visual media collections is a critical part of the vision of the generic library. To that end, one-time funds have frequently been infused into a small base budget for film and sound recordings, 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. See SAIL Acquisition Statistics
Selectors will continue a recent change of policy allowing the purchase of any medium from their funds allocated for print monographs, but a stable and larger allocation for the SAIL budget would 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 staff and funding for maintenance.
As media technology has changed, some faculty choose to continue teaching older analog equipment, often for good pedagogical and aesthetic reasons. In the context of doubling instruction loads, this breadth of technologies generates a daunting challenge 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.
The reduced number of library faculty has resulted in less ability to provide library instruction effectively to the curriculum. 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, although the transactions that do occur at reference tend to be more substantive. As traffic at the physical reference desk has diminished, faculty who rotate into the library have more limited opportunities to learn about library resources through interactions with patrons. These trends 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.
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 expansion of entry-level media production instruction 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 continue current efforts to hire instructional staff who have both the 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. The number of such instructional IT staff may also need to be increased, in response to these new and expanding demands for work within the curriculum.
Conclusion: Holly's 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 media, 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.