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Archive for the ‘Institutional Support’ Category

College Librarians Look at Better Ways to Measure the Value of Their Services

Posted by Editor on April 1, 2011

By Jennifer Howard in CHE


How do you take the measure of academic libraries and librarians? At the Association of College and Research Libraries conference, which began here Wednesday, presenters took up the problem of how libraries can demonstrate their value to their institutions—and whether conventional attempts to measure return on investment, or “ROI,” are any use in that campaign.

Like most of academe, libraries have been feeling increased pressure to justify themselves quantitatively. The bold title of James G. Neal’s paper—”Stop the Madness: The Insanity of ROI and the Need for New Qualitative Measures of Academic Library Success”—indicated where its author stands on the issue. Mr. Neal is vice president for information services and university librarian at Columbia University.

Return on investment “has become the new mantra of academic libraries, a relentless and in many ways foolish effort to quantify impact in the face of budget challenges and the questioning of our continuing relevance to the academy in an all-digital information world,” Mr. Neal told a packed meeting room at the Philadelphia Convention Center. “ROI instruments and calculations fundamentally do not work for academic libraries, and present naive and misinterpreted assessments of our roles and impacts at our institutions and across higher education. New and rigorous qualitative measures of success are needed.”

In a paper he described as “a polemic and a call to arms,” Mr. Neal urged libraries to take a different sort of measure–of their users, what they want and need, and how they interact with the physical and virtual resources and spaces of the library. Librarians ought to be asking, “How much did the user receive through an investment of time, energy, and resources in the resources and services of the library?” he said. He called on libraries to embrace what he called the “human” objectives. “Design for the agile rather than the static,” he said. “Start with the user and not the collection.”

After Mr. Neal delivered his broadside, a pair of librarians from the University of Colorado system presented the results of a more traditional attempt to measure their libraries’ worth to users. Read the rest of this entry »


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To Library, or Not to Library

Posted by Editor on March 17, 2011

January 13, 2011, by David Moltz in IHE

Community colleges are growing by leaps and bounds these days. And much of that growth has been in branch or satellite campuses.

This kind of expansion, however, has created a vexing question: When is the right time to add a library? Accreditors require community colleges to provide library services to all of their students, no matter their location. Still, there is some leeway as to whether a physical space is needed on all branch campuses. Given this gray area, some community college officials wonder when simply providing library services to branch campus students is insufficient and a physical library is necessary.

Mt. Hood Community College, in Oregon, reached just such a tipping point at its Maywood Park Campus last fall, when it was decided that existing virtual resources were not enough and the 10-year old branch finally needed a physical library of its own.

“The main reason why we decided to put a library here is that we’ve grown quite a bit in student demand [for courses], physical space on the premises and classes offered,” said Sergio Lopez, branch coordinator of the new library, which opened last September. “We have 10 classes going on at any particular point in time now. But mainly, given the distance of this branch from our main campus, there’s just been a need for people to access information to support their coursework.”

A couple of credit courses are taught at the branch, but mostly it houses the college’s adult basic education program, whose offerings include GED, ESL and Head Start courses. Initially, the branch had a small bookstore, which Lopez said met most students’ needs.

With enrollment and program growth at the branch, Lopez said the college recognized that even so-called nontraditional students, typically adults with jobs and families, wanted the research materials and technology offered by a library. He added that not only did they want to check out reference books and laptops for academic use, but also they wanted to have a quiet place to study, something that might not be an obvious demand for on-the-go working adults with families and other obligations.

“When you’re talking about people taking GED and ESL classes, even though they’re nontraditional students, we assume that a lot of these students are going to continue to go into college for an associate degree, a certificate or to learn some sort of trade skill,” Lopez said. “So again, even though they’re nontraditional students, we want to give them a feeling of what a traditional college experience feels like. ‘This is what college looks like. You’ll be expected to do work outside of class.’”

For a campus that serves about 5,500 students, the new library is small. Located in an old classroom, it is 500 square feet and has four tables, about 400 books and 20 laptops to check out. It has significant ties to the college’s main library; students can access digital offerings online and books via a sharing program….read entire article here.

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Several articles found at this ARL, CNI and SPARC Test Site

Posted by Editor on September 23, 2010

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Libraries fight for improvements

Posted by Editor on September 15, 2010

By Rob Capriccioso, in Indian Country Today

Story Published: Sep 15, 2010, Story Updated: Sep 10, 2010

WASHINGTON – Like a lot of libraries nationwide, tribal libraries are struggling. Books are lacking, roofs are leaking, and the Internet is broken. Indian students this back-to-school season tend to be suffering most, while tribal educators continue to spread the word on the need for improvements.

The importance of tribal libraries to the cultural and educational fabrics of tribal nations cannot be overstated, according to tribal educators. Beyond their primary role as centers for information, tribal libraries often have missions to strengthen cultural identity and Native language revitalization, promote intergenerational activities, and serve as research centers for tribal citizens.

Despite the critical community roles they play, a report published this year in the Library Student Journal found that dilemmas facing tribal libraries are numerous and daunting. The report noted that it is often difficult for tribes and tribal colleges to retain quality staff at some facilities due partially to recruiting shortfalls facing remote reservation areas.

“Many tribal librarians do not have the master’s degree that other professional librarians have,” said Sandy Littletree, a program manager of the School of Information Resources and Library Science at the University of Arizona.

“While it is true that many of these librarians do an excellent job of running their libraries and providing these essential services to the community, it also means that many tribal librarians are hired without some of the fundamental skills that their colleagues at other institutions may have.”

Beyond the staffing concerns, lack of money, by far, is the main problem.

“The biggest issue facing tribal college libraries, and most other colleges and universities and libraries in general, is funding and budgetary constraints,” according to the LSJ report by Lisa Shamchuck of the University of Alberta. “Funding usually comes in the form of federal obligations from treaties, legislation, regional and local laws, private donations, tribal sources and grants, all of which may be unpredictable.”

Miguel Figueroa, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Diversity and Spectrum, said 54 percent of rural libraries face flat or decreased operating budgets for 2010, according to the organization’s studies.

This funding crisis has tangible impacts on some of the most essential of services; 73 percent of rural libraries reported they are the only provider of free public computer and Internet access in their communities, but nearly 70 percent of rural libraries reported that they have too few public access Internet workstations; 62 percent reported there will be no additions to their public workstations in the next year; 70 percent reported they have no plans for replacement of the current workstations they have, and 61 percent of rural libraries reported that cost is the most important factor in their decision about adding computer workstations.

Figueroa said tribal libraries, which often serve communities of 2,000 to 3,000 or less, tend to experience among the most severe funding challenges of all rural libraries.

Jurisdictional issues complicate funding matters for some tribal libraries, added Littletree. “Tribal libraries often have no ties to state library agencies or other library systems, which means that not only is their funding limited, they also have less support and less visibility in the profession.”

The lack of visibility means that many of the nation’s top library advocates and policymakers have little insight into the problems facing some of the most struggling libraries in the country.

The advocates who are out there, including the leaders of the American Indian Library Association, are working overtime to improve the outlook. The group of tribal professionals, which holds business meetings twice a year and publishes a regular newsletter, is currently led by president Jody Gray. She and past president, Loriene Roy, are currently among the most well-known of tribal library supporters.

Even though the picture is bleak for many tribal libraries, especially in the current economic climate, there are a few bright spots to celebrate, including new funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal grant-making agency.

In its latest round of grants, announced Sept. 7, IMLS said out of 46 applicants nationwide, 17 Native American tribal communities were chosen to receive $2,030,562 in Native American Library Services Enhancement grants – 10 of the grantees were first time awardees.

Projects planned by awardees are expected to further the cultural underpinnings of the tribal library movement. The Cherokee Nation, for instance, is working to establish a “Virtual Library of Cherokee Knowledge,” which is designed to provide Cherokee citizens and the general public access to a comprehensive digital repository of authentic Cherokee knowledge related to the nation’s history, language, traditions, culture and leaders.

IMLS, which is the primary source of federal funds for the nation’s museums and libraries, also announced that 24 of 35 applicants would be receiving funding through the 2010 Na-tive American/Native Hawaiian museum services grant program. The projects chosen for funding will receive a total of $1,023,857.

Mamie Bittner, deputy director of IMLS, said the agency keeps a close eye on tribal institutions and their needs.

“Like with most tribal issues, there is no ‘standard’ or ‘average’ library. They run the gamut. The one thing that they do have in common is a commitment to lifelong learning while aiding in the preservation of Native cultures.”

She added that one of the most exciting parts of working with tribes for her involves convening tribal library representatives to discuss and share information about how to solve the problems.

“One interesting comment we heard at the last convening was that tribes are using 21st century tools to preserve Native cultures and stories.”

The need to get more tribal library projects funded continues to be a top issue of priority for many advocates who say that improved grantwriting is needed across the board.

“The grantees who received the grants will enhance their tribal communities’ ability to provide much needed resources for their people, and I would encourage other tribal communities to apply for these funds,” said Willard Sakiestewa Gilbert, a National Indian Education Association leader and professor at Northern Arizona University.

Gilbert hopes that those who have yet to receive awards take the time to review successful applications, and keep trying for future success. Examples of recent grants are online.

Along those lines, Bittner noted that at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Association of State and Local History in Oklahoma City, there will be a “tribal track” especially for tribal libraries and museums to help them talk about and work on such issues.

The next deadline for Native American Library Services Enhancement Grant applications is May 2. Senior Program Officer Alison Freese can be reached at (202) 653-4665 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 653-4665      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or with any questions.

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How to Build Alliances-from Roy Tennant in LJ

Posted by Editor on August 17, 2010

July 13th, 2010 in

If you’ve heard me speak, you may have heard me promote the idea of reading outside of librarianship. I don’t just recommend this, I do it myself. A couple things I read (well, skim and then read selected bits) are Fast Company and Inc. Something I came across in Inc. the other day provides useful advice not just for businesses, which is their core market, but for libraries as well.

Called “How to Build Business Alliances,” if you just substitute “library” for “business” it strikes me as pretty good advice for establishing alliances in the non-profit sphere as well. Here’s the outline:

  1. Selecting a partner:
    • Don’t settle for more of the status quo.
    • Think long term.
    • Investigate reputation.
  2. Cutting a deal:
    • Draw the big picture.
    • Establish subjects and a timetable for the talks.
    • Make sure everybody buys in.
  3. Making it work:
    • Plan the decision-making process.
    • Meet all your partners.
    • Find a champion.

Don’t miss the sidebars on “How to Share Ideas” and “Put it in Writing”. Altogether a very fast read but still a good blueprint for establishing an effective alliance. In these days of financial challenges, I think libraries should be seeking to do just this wherever possible.

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You Can’t Afford Not To Do These Things

Posted by Editor on July 22, 2010

By Michael Casey & Michael Stephens — Library Journal, 03/15/2009

We’ve written about ideas for improving customer service, boosting staff morale, fostering change, and building a management and communication style that is win-win for both staff and administration. Almost everything we’ve discussed has, as its only cost, time–necessary to plan, implement, and review.

There are no expensive technologies to purchase, no cutting-edge software to struggle with, and no $500-an-hour consultants. Our suggestions involve listening, dialog, and transparent actions. Trust is the underlying concept. Communication is its foundation.

Economics hit morale

On April 1, 2007, when we began writing The Transparent Library column, the nation’s economy was reasonably strong, and library budgets were relatively sufficient and stable. But things have changed. Federal, state, and local budgets have begun to suffer seriously, and many libraries now face hiring freezes and, in some instances, layoffs and closings.

The economic downturn also hurts morale. If your library is experiencing layoffs and closings, this is unfortunate yet understandable. But we hear from some librarians that managers are using the economic crisis to close their doors and ears to new ideas and initiatives.

That is the worst thing they can do. In fact, now is the best time to implement many of the ideas we’ve advocated for the past two years, to listen to your staff and your users, seeking new and more efficient ideas to boost service delivery and morale. It is not the time to hunker down stubbornly.

Directors shouldn’t hide

First, managers and administrators should take some time to visit your locations. Listen to your constituents. While costly new initiatives are unlikely, ideas that make use of existing tools should be encouraged and studied. Honest dialog goes a long way toward addressing staff worries and concerns.

If you can’t get to all of your locations, go to some, then record a video for the staff as a whole. For a look at transparency at its best, check out the video of Allen County Public Library, IN, director Jeff Krull addressing his staff and user base about the current property tax reform issue in Indiana.

Building teamwork

Many libraries are responding productively to improve or augment internal interaction and the management of day-to-day tasks. Teams and committees can alternate between actual physical meetings and virtual meetings, reducing the fuel and downtime costs associated with travel. Free online tools can open up dialogs among physically and hierarchically separated groups within your organization.

Take a look at what the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga library is doing with a MediaWiki install to plan for its new building and highlight the workings of various departments. Read the rest of this entry »

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Keeping Libraries Open–from the WSJ–check the comments, too

Posted by Editor on July 15, 2010


I love my library. Now it looks like budget cuts are going to reduce hours and staff. Is there anything I can do?

—L.C., Washington

A while ago, I went to my library and picked up “The Imperfectionists” by Tom Rachman (breezy, slender) and “Matterhorn” by Karl Marlantes (magnificent, heartbreaking). I subsequently exchanged them for “Solar” by Ian McEwan (not his best but good fun anyway) and “The Long Song” by Andrea Levy (a wonder).

I returned those and borrowed “A Week in December” by Sebastian Faulks and “Ask Alice” by D. J. Taylor. And for all of these new hardcover books, no one asked me for a dime (although this library is privately funded, and I contribute to it).

Free libraries are a privilege some of our forebears fought hard for. When they were first proposed in England in the mid-19th-century, opponents argued that libraries would give the lower classes ideas about ephemera like equality. Later, critics worried that they were a waste of time.

“Whenever I have entered any of our Public Libraries,” an English doubter complained, “I have found…every chair occupied—in nine cases out of 10 by loafing office boys or clerks, who were using their masters’ time for devouring all the most trivial literary trash.” Those chairs are still full, though now they’re more likely to be occupied by people looking for jobs, studying English or writing a term paper. But public libraries are a tempting quarry for budget cutters. Florida’s state legislature recently proposed reducing its public-library budget from a lean $23 million to zero. Zero! (The budget was ultimately restored to $21 million.) Beginning July 6, all 73 branches of Los Angeles’s libraries were closed two days a week instead of one.

“People here in Los Angeles are upset about the mayor’s proposed plan to cut the budget of libraries…This could affect as many as nine people,” joshed Jay Leno recently. Actually, it will affect millions of people, but you can see the problem: Libraries and their users are invisible to people like Mr. Leno’s joke writers, among many others.

So raise your voices, library lovers. Raise money, too. Donate your time. Talk up your library with your friends and neighbors, especially if one of them is Jay Leno. Describing my feelings now, the historian Barbara Tuchman wrote 25 years ago, “Nothing sickens me more than the closed door of a library.”

Read post and comments here:

Visit ALA’s I Love Libraries website as well!

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CCC closes Flagstaff campus library

Posted by Editor on April 15, 2010

HILLARY DAVIS Sun Staff Reporter | Posted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 5:30 am

Coconino Community College is planning to close most of its small library this summer and merge with nearby Northern Arizona University’s Cline Library, sharing resources and saving CCC as much as $70,000 per year.

Coconino President Leah Bornstein said she and NAU President John Haeger came up with the merger after enacting the CCC2NAU structured transfer program, which is now in its third semester with about 300 students signed up. The union also saves the much smaller community college money in personnel (the move eliminates 2.5 jobs), supplies, and books and periodicals.

The joint library addresses cuts in CCC’s state funding. Bornstein also said eventual transfer students could explore NAU and get used to the larger campus by having full access to Cline.

She said the library partnership model is the first of its kind in the state. The switch-over will happen on July 1.

“The impetus wasn’t necessarily cuts first,” she said. “It was, ‘What’s our next project, what makes some sense, how can we get our students commingled in a way that makes some sense?’ And then the realization after that was, this also could be certainly a good use of public funds.”

All CCC students and faculty will be able to take advantage of Cline Library’s extended hours, assistance and information resources, remote access to databases, interlibrary loans and document delivery services.

Cline is open to the general public, but on-site computer services and the borrowing of materials are limited and require guest registration for users not affiliated with the university. The library Web site’s research tools are unrestricted. Read the rest of this entry »

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From Cornell University Libraries: Library value calculations

Posted by Editor on December 22, 2009

We all know that maintaining a research library requires a large investment.  The annual expenditure figures of a library quantify the investment, but do not tell the whole story.

How do we quantify the other side of the story, the contributions the library makes in return to the university?  Research libraries are not used to assigning a monetary value to the use of their collections, services and expertise, although public libraries have been moving into this direction in the past few years.  Borrowing some of the methods public libraries use, RAU has calculated dollar values for some core library transactions.  This is only an illustration and is by no means an exhaustive list of the ways the library contributes to the university.  As calculating financial value is a new approach in our environment, we’d be interested in hearing your reactions and suggestions for improvement.

The bottom line: even a partial list of how CUL is used every day shows that we generate more value than how much money is expended on supporting our operations.  And we didn’t even try to include what the popular MasterCard ad would use as its punch line:

Intellectual stimulation: priceless.

Here are the figures:

It cost $56,678,222 to maintain Cornell’s 20 libraries in 2008/2009.

Includes Weill Cornell in New York City but not in Doha, Qatar.  Includes all sources of funds: appropriated, endowment income, sponsored funds….read entire post here:

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From Michelle Kraft (again)-getting institutional support for Web 2.0

Posted by Editor on October 21, 2009

A few weeks ago I [Michelle] was a part of the Technology Forum for the Midwest MLA Annual Conference in Columbus, OH.  I spoke on libraries using Twitter and Facebook.  Later I wrote a blog post linking to the slides as well more of my thoughts on the topic.

Ever since then I have gotten a few emails from people asking how they can convince their IT departments to allow Facebook and Twitter so they can reach out to library users.  I have sat down and thought of a few good arguments for librarians to use with their IT people, however upon reflection I don’t think that will be very productive.

The short of it is, the IT departments are not going to deal with security perceived issues because the librarian wants to use social networking tools.  We can plead and beg all we want but in the minds of the IT people Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. are either security risks or bandwidth hogs that have no real world use in the hospital world.  We are spinning our wheels to approach them on this, we would be better off trying to get them notify us when they mess with the IP ranges causing all sorts of havoc with the authentication systems of our online resources.  At least we can easily and directly show how that (IP ranges and the changing of them) impacts our work and that of the employees doing research at the hospital.

Recently (within the last 4-6 months) my institution opened up Facebook after years of it being blocked.  The library had no part in Facebook being unblocked.  Facebook, Twitter, and few other social networking sites are being used by my institution and other institutions for marketing, public relations, patient relations, and alumni relations  purposes.  Often an institution’s head of marketing or the CEO is the driving force behind these sites magically being unblocked.  When the Chief of Public Relations and Marketing sees that a competitor’s hospital is using Facebook and Twitter to effectively communicate to patients and market the hospital, you better believe he/she is going to want their hospital get involved too.

Who do you think IT is going to listen to, the librarian who wants to set up a Twitter feed from the catalog to the library website or the CEO who wants to use Twitter to help distribute institutional news and information?  If the CEO wants his/her institution to use these applications, IT has a little more reason to investigate and make sure these resources don’t pose a security or bandwidth threat to the institution than they do if the librarian asks.

So what do you do if your hospital hasn’t adopted these social networking applications?  I guess it all depends on the size of your hospital and how well you know the big fish.  There are a lot of recent successful examples and articles of hospitals using these things.  Perhaps if you are in a small hospital and know the big wigs fairly well you might begin sending them some of these articles.  If you are in larger hospital or you don’t have a real working relationship with your CEOs then perhaps you can start by contacting someone in marketing.  That person in marketing may not have enough clout but they might know somebody else who does.

While you as the librarian may not have the direct power to get your hospital to unblock social media sites, you might be able to influence those who do.  Social media hits many more areas than libraries.  It is a huge marketing and public relations tool that many hospitals and academic medical centers are persuing with specific marketing plans and goals….read entire post here:

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