Week in Review – 3 May 2013

Research Help & Reference Service

This week, I held an introductory meeting with staff who work the reference desk to talk about the big picture of how we provide research help to cadets, faculty, and staff and what some of our current and future challenges are in providing that service. I’ve asked the group to brainstorm how we can best design a complete suite of services that help our constituents do better research and therefore improve the quality of the education received by cadets. This is driven by a few different factors:

  • Research help and reference service is core to what we do, and how we want our users to see value in the library. In some cases we succeed very well at this now, in other areas we can improve. The brand of the library should be our service and staff, not just our building.
  • We have identified that we would like to move the current reference service point. That begets the question, “what should the new service point look like?” Understanding how we want to deliver the service in a broad way will help inform how to design a physical space.
  • We have current and upcoming vacancies that will impact how we provide this service. We need to design the service for resiliency and sustainability.

Specific questions I raised for the team to consider:

  • Consider and propose how research assistance can best be designed and built to assist cadets in pursuing academic excellence through information use. Who provides this service? What service exactly are we providing? Where will it happen (largely determined, but not when it comes to service point design) When do we provide the service? How do we deliver the service?
  • How can we ensure that our “brand” at West Point is the quality of service we deliver?
  • How can we develop deeper and more meaningful partnerships with cadets and faculty?
  • How is the quality of our service increasing the value and usefulness of a West Point education?

We will talk more about their work as it progresses as a whole library staff. Much if not all of we do helps to support our work to ensure that cadets, faculty, and staff have both access to and knowledge of how to use the resources we curate, collect, and provide.

Related to this effort is a draft policy that provides some guidance on support for external constituents. Our first priority for service is always cadets, faculty, and staff of USMA. We are not a public library, though we do have a mission to provide some support to the general public on the topic of the Academy and the West Point Military Reservation. This policy is draft and I am seeking comments from library staff. We will be developing an accompanying SOP that will walk through standard reference interactions and how they should be handled so that we can have consistency across our team. Please let me know what you think and how it can be improved.

Draft LPOM 2-2 External Reference and Research Support

Budget / Furlough Update

We do not have any new official news to share on furlough planning this week. We have been given revised spending targets for FY13 which meet our minimum needs and will also allow us to reactivate some cancelled content as well as move forward with some critical improvements such as a discovery service. We are very grateful for support from the Dean’s Office to make these things happen.

We also have received word that Superintendent has allocated funding to move forward with the purchase and installation of our compact shelving for Special Collections and Archives in Bartlett Hall North. The contract is ready to be let and we hope will have funds applied this week. That should put us on track for the midsummer installation and hopefully a reconfiguration of collections in the August/September time frame.

USMA Library Events

The events below will likely affect USMA Library and Jefferson Hall operations in the coming week.

Date USMA O/DEAN USMA Library Jefferson Hall Hours
3 May 2013
Week in Review D/MATH First Class Recognition 0700-2100
4 May 2013
Special Olympics 0700-2100
5 May 2013
West Point Strings Concert 1100-2245
6 May 2013
West Point Negotiation Project 0700-2245
7 May 2013
Division Heads 0700-2245
8 May 2013
Strategy Case Competition 0700-2245
9 May 2013
 Dean’s Staff  All Library Staff 0700-2245
10 May 2013
Last Day of Classes Week in Review 0700-2100

USMA Library Metrics

USMA Library tracks a number of key statistics to measure service levels. These are their stories …

Access Services
Items Charged Out 1,046 1,151 1,129 803
Gate Count N/A 5,985 6,662 5,545
Administrative Services
DV Tours 0 0 1 0
Significant Events Hosted 4 3 3 2
Events/Meetings Attended 19 13 26 22
Information Gateway
Reference Questions 60 78 65 48
Library Instruction Sessions 0 8 2 0
Cadets Attending Sessions 0 1 19 0
Materials Processing
Items Added – Books 9 92 83 32
Items Added – Digital 0 1,527 7,561 21
Items Added – GovDocs 105 39 113 111
Items Added – Other 0 1 0 0
Continuing Resource Check-Ins 921 114 103 93
Special Collections & Archives
Reference Inquiries 34 53 53 40
Research Visits < 1 hour 9 7 10 21
Research Visits < 1 day 6 3 2 2
Research Visits > 1 day 0 1 0 0
Instruction Sessions 1 0 0 1
Cadets Taught 16 0 0 13
Systems Management
Library Home Page Visits 2,717 2,811 2,622 2,290
LibGuides Visits 825 766 817 790
Digital Collections Visits 138 151 264 409
Facebook Visits 23 14 21 32
Public Printer Prints 0 0 0 0
Public Printer Copies 25 85 20 1
Public Printer Scans 14 113 102 80

USMA Library Radar

Brief status updates on current and planned library initiatives. ★ indicates a 2012-13 objective.

Access Services
★ Communication Channels Beta Blog expanding Assigned 31-Mar-13
★ JH 2nd Floor Review Meeting with team Assigned 30-Apr-13
ALSC Metrics Design Programming being done by Army Waiting 01-Feb-13
JH Security System Design Paused 31-May-13
Guide to Event Planning Reworking into digital product Assigned 31-May-13
★ New Employee On-Boarding Next step is review Assigned 31-May-13
Windowshade Repair Haig repair partially complete Waiting 31-May-13
Library Parking Space Awaiting DES Waiting 31-May-13
★ Gift SOP  Language in draft Active 31-May-13
★ USMPS On hold Assigned 31-May-13
★ Gift / Needs Statements Planned 31-May-13
ConnectNY Annual Meeting Request forwarded to GC Waiting 10-Jun-13
★ Mobile Infrastructure Waiting for Airwatch system Waiting 31-Aug-13
Fires of Hate Exhibit Dates selected for Apr-Jun 2014 Planned 15-Jan-14
Information Gateway
★ Evening Skills Clinics Spring slate underway Assigned 31-May-13
★ LibGuide Review Work underway Assigned 31-May-13
★ Embedded Liaisons Department work underway Assigned 31-May-13
IGD GS-09/11 Recruitment Hiring freeze Waiting 31-May-13
★ Academic Support Statements Statement work underway Assigned 31-Jul-13
Materials Processing
★ Collection Inventory SOP Planned 28-Feb-13
★ Gov Docs Review Assigned 30-Apr-13
Withdrawal Policy Planned 31-May-13
★ CTC Digital Collections On hold pending repository Waiting 31-May-13
MPD GS-11 Recruitment Awaiting CPAC Action Waiting 31-May-13
MPD GS-11 Recruitment Hiring freeze Waiting 31-May-13
Special Collections and Archives
★ Ring Case Biographies Initial planning underway Assigned 31-May-13
★ WP Authors Reception Planning for fall Assigned 31-May-13
★ Fee-For-Service Planned 31-May-13
★ Library History Exhibit Planned 31-May-13
SC&AD GS-06 Recruitment Hiring freeze Assigned 31-May-13
Bartlett Hall Move Re-awaiting funding Assigned 30-Jun-13
Systems Management
★ Discovery Layer Funded Assigned 01-Mar-13
SMD GS-06 Recruitment Hiring freeze Waiting 01-Mar-13
★ Institutional Repository Planned 30-Apr-13
★ Security System Review Planned 30-Jun-13
★ Public Website Redesign Redesign underway Active 30-Jun-13

Food for Thought

A few quotations from the past week about libraries, information, technology, and the future

  • “The respondents were most likely to take online courses on topics they felt more comfortable “teaching themselves.” When a student considered a subject area “difficult”—many cited mathematics and science courses as examples—they were more likely to want a traditional brick-and-mortar setting because, the report says, “they needed the immediate question-and-answer context of a face-to-face course.” – Students Avoid ‘Difficult’ Online Courses, Study Finds – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • “As recently as the year 2000, only one-quarter of all the world’s stored information was digital. The rest was preserved on paper, film, and other analog media. But because the amount of digital data expands so quickly — doubling around every three years — that situation was swiftly inverted. Today, less than two percent of all stored information is nondigital.” – The Rise of Big Data | Foreign Affairs
  • “An estimated 5 million Americans are already using wearable devices to sync their lives to the cloud, and their ranks are growing rapidly. Like Paulus, they are sending vast amounts of information—collectively referred to as Big Data—to the servers of salivating Silicon Valley executives. In just the first half of last year, venture-capital firms invested $700 million in businesses developing new wearable and embedded devices. According to a study by the consulting giant McKinsey, Big Data could be worth $300 billion annually to the health-care industry alone. But its value to sports-apparel companies, health-food purveyors, and even mattress-makers is also apparent. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, 283 vendors showed up to promote digital health products—over 100 more than the number of companies hawking games. One British mobile-research firm estimates that by 2017, 70 million people will be buying wearable devices annually and slapping them on their wrists (and chests, ankles, and necks). And while there is no valuation yet for, say, what Paulus’ heart rate is worth per beat, there’s reason to think that users of tracking apps and sensor-laden devices are giving the milk away free.” – Who Really Owns Your Personal Data?: Critical Eye : Details
  • “Says Christopher Johnson, a linguist and naming expert, “The problem with Google is that it makes us painfully aware of how unoriginal we are. Before web search, two bands could use the same name in happy ignorance as long as they were serving different geographical and stylistic markets.” – Michael Erard – Like a Lead Balloon – The Morning News
  • “Nearly half of all undergraduates in the United States arrive on campus needing remedial work before they can begin regular credit-bearing classes.” – Colleges Adapt Online Courses to Ease Burden – NYTimes.com
  • “Bit by bit, Rumsey digitized his collection — up to 38,000 maps and other items — along the way developing software that made it easier for people to explore the maps and 3D objects such as globes online. Today, the Digital Public Library of America announced that Rumsey’s collection would now be available through the DPLA portal, placing the maps into the deeper and broader context of the DPLA’s other holdings.” – Oh the Places You’ll Go: 38,000 Historical Maps to Explore at New Online Library – Rebecca J. Rosen – The Atlantic
  • “94% of parents say libraries are important for their children” – from recent findings published in Parents, Children, Libraries, and Reading, a Pew Internet & American Life Project
  • “You have to exercise,” he said, for instance. “Or at some point you’ll just break down.” You also need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.” The self-discipline he believes is required to do the job well comes at a high price. “You can’t wander around,” he said. “It’s much harder to be surprised. You don’t have those moments of serendipity. You don’t bump into a friend in a restaurant you haven’t seen in years. The loss of anonymity and the loss of surprise is an unnatural state. You adapt to it, but you don’t get used to it—at least I don’t.” – Michael Lewis: Obama’s Way | Vanity Fair
  • “By 2017, half of all employers will require workers to supply their own devices for work purposes. Also, Gartner says, enterprises that offer only corporately-owned smartphones or stipends to buy your own will soon become the exception to the rule. As enterprise BYOD programs proliferate, 38% of companies expect to stop providing devices to workers by 2016 and let them use their own, according to a global survey of CIOs by Gartner, Inc.’s Executive Programs.” – BYOD, or else. Companies will soon require that workers use their own smartphone on the job – Computerworld
  • “The good news is that an overwhelming majority think jobs and completion are at least somewhat important. The bad news? Fewer than two thirds think either counts as “very important.” To which I can only ask: If those aren’t tops on your priority list right now, what the hell is? Meanwhile, more than a fifth don’t seem to think that cost factors much into the quality calculation, which is a view I can sort of imagine a sentient creature defending in 1997 when everybody thought the stock market was a magical fount of retirement money and the internet was going end unemployment. But at time when half the country seems convinced that everybody under the age of thirty is about to burned alive on a giant pyre of student debt, it’s tad tone deaf. According to Gallup, 77 percent of Americans think colleges need to cut tuition. Every single college is going to be judged via a cost-benefit analysis. This is not complicated. It should be understood by now.” – Only 65% of College Presidents Say It’s ‘Very Important’ That Grads Get Good Jobs – Jordan Weissmann – The Atlantic