Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Long Nights Build Library Use

Greg Landgraf
Therapy dogs at Marymount University's Hannon Library
The idea of an all-nighter might not hold much appeal past a certain age. Many librarians, however, are using all-nighters to build an enthusiastic audience of student users through the Long Night Against Procrastination.
One student at Crozet Library, a branch of Jefferson-Madison (Va.) Regional Library, left a remarkable thank-you note with young adult librarian Allie Haddix about the library's Exam Cram event for high school students: “Because of the services that you have provided, I will study hard and efficiently, get good grades, get into the best college, and change the world.”

The European University Viadrina in Frankfurt, Germany, created the Long Night Against Procrastination (LNAP) in 2010. Since then, it has spread among university writing centers and, in many cases, libraries worldwide. Other libraries, including school and public libraries, have started holding events that, while not formally connected to LNAP, have similar goals.
More than 100 students (20% of the student body) attended the Long Night Against Procrastination hosted by Waldorf College's Hanson Library and the Waldorf Writing Center.
The specifics of these events vary, but the core idea is the same: Students gather in the library to study or work on projects late into the night, while library and writing center staffers offer assistance in research, writing, and proofreading, and sometimes professors volunteer their time to provide assignment-specific aid. Many events add snacks, relaxation events, planned study breaks, giveaways, and other nonacademic activities into the mix.
But even at LNAP and similar events that have those extras, productivity—in a supportive, community atmosphere—is central. At Crozet's Exam Cram, the library stayed open late exclusively for high school students over seven days. “There was one group using dry-erase markers to write equations on the glass walls, and they had filled the whole wall with equations,” says Haddix. “It looked like they were in college.”
LNAPs get enthusiastic response from students. Perhaps most dramatically, the Long Night at Waldorf College’s Hanson Library (held in partnership with the Waldorf Writing Center) in Forest City, Iowa, attracts 20% of the student body. Since it began in 2013, "every time one of our student ambassadors gave a tour in the library, they'd mention the Long Night as a hallmark event," says former director (and now head of Hardin Library Services at the University of Iowa) Elizabeth Kiscaden.
These events can serve a valuable outreach function. Waldorf's staff marketed the event at the college's field house and brought in many students who hadn't previously used the library. "It helped to break down library anxiety, getting them in and showing them that it's a welcoming environment," Kiscaden says, and now many of those students are return customers.
Meanwhile, at Brandon (Manitoba) University's Robbins Library, the hours of the Long Night helped the Academic Skills Centre reach a new audience. "The Writing Skills staff who were here were able to help students who couldn't come in to see them during regular hours," says university librarian Betty Braaksma.
In some cases, these events have helped libraries build bridges around their campus. For the Feel Good Finals program at Loyola Marymount University's William H. Hannon Library in Los Angeles, the library worked with the campus recreation department to offer massages in the library and to share the cost of bringing in therapy dogs and meditation programs. Since then, an on-campus pub operated by the recreation department has reached out to the library about sponsoring a trivia night. "I don't think we'd have been on their radar if we hadn't built this connection through Feel Good Finals," says Outreach and Communications Librarian Jamie Hazlitt.
Petaluma (Calif.) High School's Cookies and Cram event lasts for a few hours after school and includes both librarians and teachers helping students in the days before finals. "It's amazing to see a teacher sitting at a table helping two or three kids with a question. Then suddenly there will be a group of kids who aren't necessarily from her classes talking to her informally," says teacher-librarian Connie Williams. "It's a really positive experience for kids to know they can come up to any teacher and get their questions answered, and I know the teachers love interacting in that way." —Greg Langraf is a freelance writer based in Chicago.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Winning the Space Race

Expanding collections and services with shared depositories

The Washington Research Library Consortium, with Facility Manager Tammy Beck Henning at floor level.
Academic libraries face immutable space problems. On most campuses, library shelf space is finite and even shrinking. Gone are the days when a proactive library director could argue successfully for a library expansion to house more books. 
Still, the books keep coming: Even with increasing numbers of e-journals and ebooks, US college and university libraries collect more than 25 million print volumes every year, on top of the more than 1.1 billion print items already held, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics’ Academic Libraries 2004. Where are these books getting shelved?
To alleviate the space crunch, libraries have increasingly turned to library depositories. Libraries originally used high-density depositories primarily for less-used materials. In the age of learning commons and makerspaces, many of them now find that high-density shelving can no longer be restricted to older or less-used materials. Some send substantial numbers of newly acquired volumes directly to an offsite facility, often because they are relatively arcane materials that are still of value to the research collection.
Witness the almost 62,000-square-foot Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago, which features a domed reading room at ground level, beneath which is a high-density facility capable of holding 3.5 million books, retrievable by robotic arm within minutes of a patron’s online request. “We believe that having materials close by enhances their use,” said Judith Nadler, the now-retired university librarian who oversaw the Mansueto Library’s conceptualization and construction since 2006, in a May 18, 2011, University of Chicago news feature, "Mansueto Library Creates New Space for Thought." She described the design as "a bold statement of importance, of centrality."
Of course, most campuses do not have the luxury of available land on which to build on-campus repositories. Libraries are also joining together to share high-density facilities to support their print collections in mutually agreed upon nearby locations. Of the estimated 75 North American high-density facilities, at least 15 are shared by multiple libraries. Lorcan Dempsey, vice president and chief strategist of OCLC Research, predicted in his blog July 5, 2013, blog post, “In seven years’ time, say, a large part of the existing print collection in libraries will have moved into shared management, with a reduced local footprint. The opportunity costs of locally managing large print collections which release progressively less value into research and learning are becoming too pressing for this not to happen.”
By far the largest shared depository, the Research and Collections Preservation Consortium (ReCAP), which opened in 2002, holds more than 11.5 million volumes owned by Columbia University, the New York Public Library, and Princeton University. The consortium began ​as a way to share the costs of providing optimal preservation conditions for the partners’ extensive research collections, according to Executive Director Jacob Nadal. He touts a benefit of the arrangement: “a preservation environment five times better than conventional library stacks for a fraction of the cost.” ReCAP provides hundreds of daily physical and digital deliveries to partner libraries and readers around the world.

The story of offsite shelving

In the 1980s, the University of California system and Harvard University opened specialized library depositories. Since then, high-density shelving facilities have become a standard option for academic libraries worldwide. The approximately 75 North American facilities currently house more than 80 million volumes and in many cases hold a significant share of a library’s total collection.
These types of facilities are designed to save construction and operating costs by housing a very large number of volumes in the smallest possible floor space. Most of these follow the “Harvard model” in which volumes are grouped by size and held in trays on shelving that can be 30 feet high or more, and are often located off campus to take advantage of less expensive land. Grouping volumes by size allows each shelf to be filled to its maximum capacity with no wasted space above or below, and no reserved space as is required in traditional library shelves arranged by call number, which must allow space for new volumes to be inserted. Typically a Harvard-model facility will contain multiple long rows of shelving in a single large room (or “module”) for a total of 10,000–15,000 surface square feet (which can hold as many as 2 million volumes).
Facilities can be expanded by appending new modules. Each module has environmental systems and controls to maintain low temperature, humidity, and lighting to better preserve the books, usually in better conditions than the campus library provides. Facility staff operate mechanized order pickers that can traverse the rows and rise even to the highest shelf for adding new trays or retrieving requested volumes. These facilities also include a separate processing area for staff to accession new holdings into the facility (sizing, traying, updating inventory control database or library catalog) and to fulfill requests (charging to library or end-user, packing for delivery or scanning for electronic delivery).
Automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) are also in frequent use. Developed first at California State University, Northridge, and now at many others, these facilities are designed to house a high percentage of the library’s volumes on campus and to provide retrieval and delivery by a robotic mechanism. Like the Harvard model, ASRS depositories use long and high shelving rows designed for shelving density and not for human browsing. In the ASRS, the robotic mechanism is connected to the library’s online catalog and request system: When a book is requested, the system automatically dispatches the appropriate arm to retrieve the bin where it is being held. From that point a staff member extracts the requested book from the bin to deliver it to the waiting requester.
Library depositories offer a trade-off between cost-effective shelving for ever-growing collections and more difficult access to the volumes held there. To compensate for reduced availability of volumes in a high-density facility, libraries need to ensure that the volumes can be discovered through metadata and delivered to the requester in a timely manner. On-campus ASRS facilities are designed to deliver volumes within minutes. Offsite facilities frequently offer onsite reading rooms, scanned delivery of articles or chapters, and daily or more frequent delivery of physical volumes.
Most often regional shared depositories have been developed by existing library consortia or university systems. 
  • The University of California’s Northern and Southern Regional Library facilities were developed at the direction of the Regents of the University of California to house materials for the universities in the north and south of the state.
  • Five Colleges Inc. in Massachusetts, an educational consortium established in 1965, established its shared Library Depository by agreement with Amherst College to use part of Amherst’s modified Harvard-model facility housed in a former Strategic Air Command bunker.
  • The Minnesota Library Access Center, a program of Minitex, houses member library collections in an underground cavern built beneath the main library of the University of Minnesota during library construction.
  • Ohio boasts five Harvard-model facilities originally mandated by the state legislature and now administered by OhioLINK.
  • The Washington (D.C.) Research Library Consortium (WRLC) operates a Harvard-model Shared Collections Center for its nine member libraries.
In other cases, partner libraries forge new relationships specifically to achieve a shared library depository.
  • PASCAL (the Preservation and Access Service Center for Colorado Academic Libraries) is shared among the University of Colorado, Denver Health Sciences Library, Auraria Library, and the University of Colorado, Boulder.
  • The University of Texas system and Texas A&M University opened a joint library depository in 2013 designed to hold more than 1 million volumes.
  • The Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University are planning a new shared library depository, expected to be operational in late 2015.
Libraries that share facilities define that policy in a number of different ways. Sometimes libraries offer a landlord/tenant arrangement such as the agreement between Duke University, which owns the facility, and neighboring North Carolina libraries in the Research Triangle. At ReCAP, partners share only the physical space and operations staff, with volumes separated into different rows that are reserved for individual owners like a condo. At WRLC (which also operates a shared library catalog across its nine members), holdings of all members are fully intermixed throughout the shared facility. The Five Colleges Library Depository in Massachusetts offers subscriptions to its journal titles held at the facility, so that its subscribers are, in a way, also sharing the facility.

Sharing collections across systems

Regardless of the original arrangement, libraries that share offsite shelving facilities almost inevitably begin to discuss sharing the holdings themselves. Even high-density facilities ultimately face space constraints and often enact policies to restrict duplication. Plans to prohibit duplicates in a shared facility often lead to discussion of shared ownership or stewardship, because partner libraries that are prevented from relocating volumes to the shared facility by the no-duplicates policy need the assurance that they will have access to the offsite volume already sent there by another library.
That was the case for WRLC’s Bruce Hulse, director of information services. He says that during planning for expanding the shared facility, library partners discussed “if we were sharing our individual collections or creating a shared collection.” If sharing individual collections, then each partner would have the ability to make a series of separate choices, which, in the end, might not make the best use of the shared facility. But viewing the book repository’s contents as a single shared collection would require true collaboration, he says, and could produce the best collection for the group as a whole. “The resulting decision to share stewardship went a long way toward convincing university administrators to provide financial support for facility expansion,” Hulse says.
While ReCAP historically has emphasized support for individual collections at the shared facility, ReCAP partners are also considering some major changes. Says ReCAP Executive Director Nadal, “Our next major initiative is to turn ReCAP from a shared operation into a shared collection, giving each partner full access to more than 3 million additional items and providing a foundation for collaboration on major collecting efforts in the years ahead.”
The collaboration between Georgia Tech and Emory University in Atlanta “aims to develop a shared collection between our two institutions, both retrospectively and prospectively,” says Catherine Murray-Rust, Georgia Tech’s vice provost for learning excellence and dean of libraries. “One of the ways to get there is to start by solving our space problems collaboratively through a shared facility.”
The relationship between Georgia Tech and Emory has led to one of the more dramatic collection decisions: In the first case of its kind, Georgia Tech plans to relocate almost all of its print collection to the new shared facility (a decision that may be facilitated by the fact that Georgia Tech’s academic programs emphasize technical and engineering fields that are well-supported by digital resources).
To provide access to its mostly offsite print collection, Georgia Tech will institute twice-daily deliveries of print volumes from the new facility about six miles away, plus on-request emergency deliveries, electronic delivery, and an onsite reading room. Even more important, Murray-Rust says, is that delivery service from the shared facility will be integrated with delivery between all Emory and Georgia Tech library locations, so Georgia Tech faculty and students can have easier access to all materials available through this partnership. As Murray-Rust puts it, the goal is “to make up with service for what some faculty believe is taken away.”
Shared library facilities sometimes form the basis of “shared print programs,” an evolving term used to describe agreements in which libraries explicitly commit to retain certain holdings over the long term, either on campus or in a library depository. The goal of these programs is to ensure preservation of certain defined holdings, which allows other partners to deselect their copies if necessary. Several shared library facilities have enacted retention agreements for their holdings, including the “persistence policy” at the University of California Regional Library Facilities and a commitment at WRLC to retain print journal volumes held at the shared facility until at least 2035. The new facility at Colby College will enable Colby to retain hundreds of thousands of monographs as part of the Maine Shared Collections Strategy. Indiana University’s Auxiliary Library Facility, formerly used only for IU’s collections, now serves as the central repository for the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) Shared Print Repository of journal volumes shared by 10 CIC member libraries.

Appeasing concerns

For libraries operating high-density facilities or shared print programs, one key issue is how to appease the concerns of faculty and students who see books being removed from the stacks. Librarians view relocating books or relying on other collections as an unfortunate necessity, given the continuing acquisition of new volumes that must be housed within a finite amount of campus book space. Faculty and other researchers view those steps as unnecessarily draconian solutions that reduce the value of local collections. Perhaps the best way to bring these two world views together is to agree on a shared goal: Neither librarians nor researchers want libraries to stop acquiring new books because they have run out of space, and both want researchers to find and use any volume they want, wherever it is located.
In the meantime, high-density library shelving facilities will probably continue to grow—both new facilities and expansions of existing ones. Some libraries will be able to make the case that an individual facility is required, while more frequently they may join with others to divvy up the costs of a shared facility.
And as libraries increasingly consider shared print agreements—spreading responsibility for collections among multiple libraries—existing and new library depositories will play an important role as the primary sites for long-term retention and delivery of vital print volumes.

Friday, October 03, 2014

12 Ways Libraries Are Good for the Country

By Leonard Kniffel
Americans love their libraries, and advances in technology have multiplied the ways in which libraries enrich the quality of life in their communities. Whether they are in an elementary school or a university, a museum or a corporation, public or private, our nation's libraries offer a lifetime of learning. To library supporters everywhere—Friends, trustees, board members, patrons, and volunteers—American Libraries magazine offers this gift of 12 ideals toward which librarians strive as they provide comprehensive access to the record of human existence. It will take all of us, in a spirit of pride and freedom, to maintain libraries as a living reality in a free nation through the 21st century.

1. Libraries sustain democracy.

Libraries provide access to information and multiple points of view so that people can make knowledgeable decisions on public policy throughout their lives. With their collections, programs, and professional expertise, librarians help their patrons identify accurate and authoritative data and use information resources wisely to stay informed. The public library is the only institution in American society whose purpose is to guard against the tyrannies of ignorance and conformity.

2. Libraries break down boundaries.

Libraries of various kinds offer services and programs for people at all literacy levels, readers with little or no English skills, preschoolers, students, homebound senior citizens, prisoners, homeless or impoverished individuals, and persons with physical or learning disabilities. Libraries rid us of fences that obstruct our vision and our ability to communicate and to educate ourselves.

3. Libraries level the playing field.

By making access to information resources and technology available to all, regardless of income, class, or background, a public library levels the playing field and helps close the gap between the rich and the poor. Libraries unite people and make their resources available to everyone in the community, regardless of social status. There are more public libraries than McDonald's restaurants in the United States.

4. Libraries value the individual.

Libraries offer choices between mainstream and alternative viewpoints, between traditional and visionary concepts, and between monocultural and multicultural perspectives. Library doors swing open for independent thinking without prejudgment. Library collections and services offer the historical global, cultural, and political perspective that is necessary to foster a spirit of exploration that challenges orthodoxy and conformity.

5. Libraries nourish creativity.

By providing an atmosphere that stimulates curiosity, libraries create opportunities for unstructured learning and serendipitous discovery. As repositories not only of books but of images and a wide variety of media, libraries offer access to the accumulated record of mankind with assistance from professional staff delivering these resources through the physical library, the web, and outreach services.

6. Libraries open young minds.

Children’s and young adult librarians offer story hours, book talks, summer reading activities, career planning, art projects, gaming competitions, and other programs to spark youthful imaginations. Bringing children into a library can transport them from the commonplace to the extraordinary. From story hours for preschoolers to career planning for high schoolers, children's librarians make a difference because they care about the unique developmental needs of every individual who comes to them for help.

7. Libraries return high dividends.

Libraries offer big returns to the communities they serve—anywhere from $1.30 to $10 in services for every $1 invested in them. Strong public and school libraries make a city or town more desirable as a business location. Americans check out an average of more than seven books a year from public libraries, and it costs them roughly $34 in taxes—about the cost of a single hardcover book.

8. Libraries build communities.

People gather at the library to find and share information, experience and experiment with the arts and media, and engage in community discussions and games. No narrow definition will work for libraries. There is the community of scholars, the deaf community, the gay community, the gaming community, and countless others, each with its libraries and specialized collections. Libraries validate and unify; they save lives, literally and by preserving the record of those lives.

9. Libraries support families.

Libraries offer an alternate venue for parents and their children to enhance activities traditionally conducted at home by providing homework centers, parenting collections, after-school programs, outreach, one-on-one reading, and early literacy programs. Like the families they serve, libraries everywhere are adapting to meet the economic and social challenges of the 21st century. In libraries, families find professionals dedicated to keeping their services family-friendly by offering a diverse selection of materials to which people of many backgrounds can relate.

10. Libraries build technology skills.

Library services and programs foster critical-thinking skills and information literacy. Nearly 100% of American libraries offer internet access and assistance with problem-solving aptitude, scientific inquiry, cross-disciplinary thinking, media literacy, productivity and leadership skills, civic engagement, global awareness, and health and environmental awareness. Library patrons search for jobs online, polish résumés with word processing software, fill out applications, research new professions, sign up for career workshops, and look for financial assistance. Public libraries serve as technology hubs by offering a wide range of public access computing and internet access services at no charge to users.

11. Libraries offer sanctuary.

By providing an atmosphere conducive to reflection, libraries induce a feeling of serenity and transcendence that opens the mind to new ideas and interpretations. In the library we are answerable to no one. We can be alone with our private thoughts, fantasies, hopes, and dreams, and we are free to nourish what is most precious to us with the silent companionship of others who share our quest. Libraries are places where computers and databases provide superior access to information and they offer an atmosphere of light and textures that beautiful architecture and design foster.

12. Libraries preserve the past.

Libraries are repositories of community history, oral narratives, and audiovisual records of events and culture, and when these local resources are digitized and placed online as digital libraries, communities and cultures thousands of miles away can share in the experience. Libraries and information science and technology enable us to communicate through distance and time with the living and the dead. A library is a miracle kept available by the meticulous resource description and access that is the work of the librarian. Libraries preserve the record and help their patrons make sense of it in the Information Age.