Monthly Archives: March 2014

Week in Review – 28 March 2014

Spring 2014 Updates from ConnectNY

Our statewide resource-sharing consortium, ConnectNY, has had an busy winter and looks forward to a busy spring with a number of initiatives ongoing and upcoming. Below are some brief updates on significant ConnectNY projects that will affect our services and users:

Leadership Transition

Our Executive Director, Bart Harloe, has announced his intent to retire at the end of the calendar year. Toward that end, ConnectNY has contracted with John Helmer, Executive Director of the Orbis/Cascade Alliance, to help facilitate the transition by preparing the ConnectNY Council to undertake a succession planning conversation that will, in turn, lead to a successful search outcome. The immediate objective of the leadership conversation with John and the ConnectNY Council is to review current organizational practices with a view toward developing a realistic set of expectations regarding the role of the new administrator that will be responsible for coordinating the consortium’s activities in the future. The ConnectNY Council will meet in May at Siena College with John to help finalize planning for our recruitment this fall.

Annual Meeting

The 2014 Annual Meeting will be held in June at Canisius College in Buffalo.

New Loan Rules in Effect

Effective January 7, 2014 all books checked out to CNY patrons have a loan period of 42 days. In order to implement this new policy a number of best practices and procedures were developed and shared on the CNY website:

One of the challenges of accomplishing this new set of policies and procedures was to develop a set of practices that would allow for effective recall functionality within the CNY system. In order to facilitate this latter objective, CNY has also developed a set of FAQs that should help address most of the questions that might arise in the near term future:

In the meantime, CNY libraries will be assessing how the new loan rule actually plays out over the course of the 2014 spring semester with a view toward assessing the impact of the new loan rule and making any needed adjustments over the summer months as a lead-in to the next academic year.

Pilot Peer to Peer Sharing Project with NExpress

At the fall meeting at Hobart and William Smith, there was strong show of hands in support of the idea of pilot Peer to Peer project with NExpress. NExpress is a consortium of New England colleges and includes Colby, Bates, Bowdoin, Middlebury, Northeastern, Wellesley and Williams. This pilot project would allow patrons of either system to cross-request materials from either consortium via the online catalog. This would significantly expand the number of items available for direct borrowing for our users, and there is less overlap between our two consortia in terms of holdings than one might think. We hope to see this begin in summer or fall.


We continue our consortial demand-driven e-book acquisition project, and this summer hope to engage more with publishers on how to make this content available and affordable for libraries. ProQuest has agreed to support a forum in NYC where consortia and publishers can get together and explore issues around group pricing for e-books, Demand Driven Acquisitions (DDA), ILL and E-books, and the perennial issue of e-textbooks and pricing for group purchasing. ConnectNY is part of the planning group for this effort.  Attendance will be by invitation only and we hope to have good representation from the ConnectNY community, as well as from other consortia around the country.

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
Fri 28 Mar 2014 Week in Review  Creative Arts Project 0700-2100
Sat 29 Mar 2014 0900-2100
Sun 30 Mar 2014 Board of Visitors Board of Visitors 1100-2315
Mon 31 Mar 2014 Board of Visitors  Board of Visitors 0700-2315
Tue 1 Apr 2014 Division Heads Sec. Veterans Affairs 0700-2315
Wed 2 Apr 2014 CTC Conference 0700-2315
Thu 3 Apr 2014 Diversity Leadership Summit  Dean’s Staff Meeting  All Library Staff WP Negotiation Conference 0700-2315
Fri 4 Apr 2014 Diversity Leadership Summit  Week in Review WP Negotiation Conference 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 921 983 597 240
Gate Count 5,844 5,620 5,416 837
ILL Article Requests 49 48 77 32
ILL Book Requests 19 27 22 21
Administrative Services
DV Tours 1 0 0 0
Significant Events Hosted 2 2 2 0
Events/Meetings Attended 20 26 23 0
Information Gateway
Reference Questions 82 85 69 5
Library Instruction Sessions 1 1 0 0
Cadets Attending Sessions 13 9 0 0
Materials Processing
Items Added – Books 155 110 306 102
Items Added – Digital 0 0 3,360 0
Items Added – GovDocs 146 34 137 42
Items Added – Other 0 2 1 34
Continuing Resource Check-Ins 235 88 100 69
Special Collections & Archives
Reference Inquiries 49 47 55 31
Research Visits < 1 hour 10 8 22 0
Research Visits < 1 day 3 3 2 0
Research Visits > 1 day 0 0 0 1
Instruction Sessions 0 0 0 0
Cadets Taught 0 0 0 0
Systems Management
Library Home Page Visits 4,447 4,893 3,890 1,776
LibGuides Visits 561 621 512 301
Digital Collections Visits 277 294 280 287
Facebook Visits 17 16 19
Public Printer Prints 7,849 7,865 6,704 319
Public Printer Copies 632 441 44 25
Public Printer Scans 197 44 1,316 381

Food for Thought

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

  • “In Washington, budget cuts have left the nation’s research complex reeling. Labs are closing. Scientists are being laid off. Projects are being put on the shelf, especially in the risky, freewheeling realm of basic research. Yet from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, science philanthropy is hot, as many of the richest Americans seek to reinvent themselves as patrons of social progress through science research. The result is a new calculus of influence and priorities that the scientific community views with a mix of gratitude and trepidation. “For better or worse,” said Steven A. Edwards, a policy analyst at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “the practice of science in the 21st century is becoming shaped less by national priorities or by peer-review groups and more by the particular preferences of individuals with huge amounts of money.”Billionaires With Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science –
  • “But, in the area of patentable subject matter, the Supreme Court’s decisions have been a disaster. The Court has created mass confusion, making it almost impossible to discern whether certain innovations, particularly as to software, are patentable. Alice provides the Supreme Court an opportunity to provide guidance in the law, particularly in the software industry. Let’s hope the Court takes it. It is time for some clarity – innovation depends on it.” – Is The Supreme Court About To Rule That Software Is Ineligible For Patent Protection? – Forbes
  • “But unlike your home PC, which will be on its own after April 8, ATMs will still get security updates and other necessary operating system maintenance—so long as they pay up. Britain’s five biggest banks—all five of them—are unprepared and are negotiating agreements with Microsoft so the company will continue support. As Reuters reports, it will cost each bank about $100 million total to both maintain support and also get the system upgraded.” – Windows XP still runs on 95 percent of the ATMs in the world, says Reuters.
  • “Information is only of value if you can get it to people who can do something with it. Sharing is power.” – General Stanley McChrystal
  • “The fear isn’t that big data discriminates. We already know that it does. It’s that you don’t know if you’ve been discriminated against.” – How Can We Build Ethics Into Big Data?
  • “Education is what people do to you, learning is what you do to yourself.” – MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito
  • “Keurig’s next generation of coffee machines will have a way to prevent any coffee not licensed by Keurig from brewing in the machine as early as this fall.” – Ars Technica
  • “A study at Indiana University found that “as many as 50% of papers are never read by anyone other than their authors, referees and journal editors.” That same study concluded that “some 90% of papers that have been published in academic journals are never cited.” That is, nine out of 10 academic papers—which both often take years to research, compile, submit, and get published, and are a major component by which a scholar’s output is measured—contribute little to the academic conversation.” – Killing Pigs and Weed Maps: The Mostly Unread World of Academic Papers – Pacific Standard: The Science of Society
  • “Take a second to be amazed at what [MOOCs] still represent for most people in most places: whatever new subject you happen to be curious about, there is probably a free online course out there to take, on your schedule. The people complaining about this feat, this possibility, seem the same sort to complain that the internet connection on their plane is slow. But sometimes, it’s okay to wow before we whine.” – I took an online class—and actually liked it – Quartz
  • “According to’s analysis of the data, nearly half of the $1.2 trillion of education debt that’s currently on the books belongs to students who are still in school, and thus not yet required to make payments.” – As Many As 1-in-3 Student Loans May Be Delinquent – Consumerist
  • “Economists have noted how work hours for white collar, college-educated workers began to become extreme in about the 1980s, and at the same time, social surveys were picking up a heightened sense of economic insecurity in this same group. Some people say we’re working more because we want more stuff (like that stupid Cadillac commercial that made me so angry I wrote a piece about it). While it’s true that household debt and spending on “luxury” items have gone up at the same time, it’s also true that wages have been stagnating and the costs of basic things like health care, housing, and education have gone through the roof—the cost of college has blown up nearly 900 percent in recent decades. When was the last time anyone outside hedge fund managers and the 1 percent got a 900 percent raise? Against that backdrop comes technology and the ability to be connected 24/7 – which leads to a feeling of constantly being “on call,” that you can never quite get away from work, that the boundaries that used to keep work more contained have bled and spilled over into the hours of the day that used to be for family, for self, for leisure, for sleep.” – America’s Workers: Stressed Out, Overwhelmed, Totally Exhausted – Rebecca J. Rosen – The Atlantic
  • “State data reveals that from 2000 to 2012, the number of bookstores in Manhattan fell almost 30 percent, to 106 stores from 150. Jobs, naturally, have suffered as well: Annual employment in bookstores has decreased 46 percent during that period, according to the state’s Department of Labor.” – Surging Rents Force Booksellers From Manhattan –
  • “They tended to be at the hub” of illicit exchanges of test information, says Adam Lowther, one of seven investigators who dug into details of cheating that has embarrassed the Air Force and on Thursday brought down virtually the entire operational command of the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. At least 82 missile launch officers face disciplinary action, but it was the four “librarians” who allegedly facilitated the cheating, in part by transmitting test answers via text message. One text included a photo of a classified test answer, according to Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, who announced the probe’s findings Thursday.” – At core of nuke cheating ring: 4 ‘librarians’ – Yahoo News

Excerpted from Infoneer Pulse, a digital commonplace book curated by Christopher Barth.

Week in Review – 14 March 2014

Library Survey Comments: Staffing and General Comments

In addition to the questions asked on the recent survey of faculty regarding library services, those taking the survey were invited to make any general comments. Those responses have been sorted out into different categories, grouped together with similar comments, and we have prepared responses where appropriate. This week is a look at comments that relate to library staffing and general/miscellaneous thoughts. Comments are listed by bullets and responses are in green italic text.

  • The staff are wonderful. I wish that they wore nametags so that I express my appreciation more personally.

Nearly all our staff should be wearing name tags, and with the new security changes our CACs as well!

  • Train library staff a bit better in ILL and other cross-library lending programs. They’re not bad, but could be a bit better.
  • Need to employ research librarians that actually know how to do research and locate things. I asked for a journal ranking a little while ago and this person had no idea what I was asking.

We have an ongoing program of training for staff. While we strive to know as much as we can about everything (since that what libraries do), we know we can always continue to build and broaden our skills. We will make sure that staff continue to be aware of our cross-library lending programs. We are also working to integrate networks like ConnectNY directly into Scout so that finding and acquiring those resources will be even easier to do.

  • We need to have librarians in the library! A library in an institution of higher education should not have a staff of people without degrees in library science.

Approximately half of USMA Library staff have a master’s degree in library science, which is a higher ratio than many other academic libraries. That said, we do not believe that a graduate degree in library science is a prerequisite to delivering outstanding library service and we have a team of dedicated and talented librarians and library technicians who support every service we provide to our users. We could not do the work we do without any of our team members. We’re sure all our academic departments have non-Ph.D. staff that provide critical support to the curriculum and our teaching daily. We do too.

  • Admittedly anecdotal, nonetheless: My spouse was treated rudely by a staff member when she attempted to pick up her already applied for library card. It was almost as if the staff member wanted to make it difficult for her to obtain the card. I don’t know a name and don’t want to get anyone in trouble, but broadly addressing behavior standards may be in order.

We regularly reinforce the requirement for good service with all staff.

  • Improve visibility/engagement of library staff with the junior (rotating) faculty so that all instructors are aware of the awesome resources available.

An excellent suggestion that we agree with wholeheartedly. We are working to better integrate our liaisons into their academic departments and have been recently considering some new ways to get to know new faculty. Suggestions on how to do this are always welcome.

Miscellaneous/General Comments

  • A limit on articles that can be checked out is very unsuitable for literature searches.

We’re not sure what limits you may be running into, so please let a reference librarian know what issues you may be having so we can address.

  • Develop a more robust funding line through AOG to augment regular funding.

Agreed. We do have some gift funds now, although they are very targeted to support collecting materials (usually just print books) in a specific subject. It is a priority for us to build more unrestricted gift funds to support the overall program and to provide some alternate funding sources. The Library was not included as a target funding priority for the current campaign, which limits how much we can pursue this right now.

  • The library staff is probably the BEST I’ve ever been around during 1 bachelor’s degree and 2 master’s degrees. Just phenomenal work by Chris Barth and staff.
  • The staff is very helpful and willing to help.
  • The facilities are excellent and so is the staff. Honestly, no suggestions as I find the library services are wonderful.
  • I have no suggestions at this time.
  • I am very impressed with the facilities here. I have used research libraries at 1 other teaching college and 2 tier 1 research colleges other than WP in the last decade and this is the best. The reason my students and I don’t utilize the library is that I teach classes that aren’t research intensive and my research is being hindered my career distractions right now.
  • The library is exceptional. I don’t have a research intensive course so my cadets don’t use it often.
  • Collaboration space (sharing of information) and access to digital collections on-line are the two most important services provided at the library for my engineering students.
  • Keep up the great work. I have had great success with electronic and physical sources for my research. It has helped me stay active doing research in the field of structural stability.
  • The library has a great and helpful staff!!
  • Keep up the good work!
  • The collection seems very small for an institution of this size, but being part of the New York sharing system helps. Getting books from sister libraries is fast and efficient. I would love to have a digital microfilm reader/printer available at all times.
  • The library staff are great and Chris Barth’s leadership and vision are impressive. Most problems are not the fault of the library. They are the fault of the funding process.
  • I have no meaningful input. I’ve used the library too few times to generalize with confidence. The times I have used the library, the staff was excellent, I found the texts I needed, the web-resources I needed, and have no deficiencies to note!
  • I have only used the library on rare occasion but the staff has always been very helpful. I do not have any suggestions at this time.
  • Thank you for all the hard work and effort that goes into our library!
  • Not as applicable to students taking modern physics, most additional resources can be found in physics library.
  • Part of the issue is that this is an undergraduate academy and not an advanced degree granting Research University – so perhaps judging against that metric is unfair. The electronic holdings are sufficient to fill the gap in physical holdings for undergraduate projects. Part of the issue is that there is relatively little time for Cadets to research topics. Scholarly research is usually last minute with Cadets reporting what is easily accessible. To an extent, I cannot blame them; they are here to become 2nd Lieutenants and not to become students of an academic discipline. Their career and vocation is the Army and not Civil and Mechanical Engineering or some other discipline. The Cadets admit that they are here to survive the experience and graduate, to do so the requirement is to pass. There is no real incentive to excel because they have a secure job when they leave and can opt for a graduate school additional service requirement and worry about graduate admissions in 6 to 8 years. In fact, being a ‘goat’ is somewhat of an honor.
  • Keep up the good work!
  • I have never received anything but outstanding support from the Library.
  • My field of research is quite narrow, so I would not expect our library to have tremendous holdings in my area. I use ConnectNY and ILL a lot (especially the former) and they serve my needs very well!
  • Library is great overall.
  • Having electronic access to journal articles at our desks is AMAZING and would be very much appreciated. Having excellent search engines to find material is also appreciated.
  • Personnel have always been wonderful.
  • If I was a student, I’d use the library all the time.
  • LIBRARIANS: While our hours are too limited and the collection could be larger, the library staff is phenomenal, and after using several academic libraries and DOD archives, probably the best with whom I have worked. They are knowledgeable and go out of their way to integrate with the academic departments in order to assist cadets on specific course material. (Mike Arden and Laura Mosher are excellent examples here.) Maintain, promote, and reward this relationship.
  • The ILL process is great – I’ve ordered a number of books and they come in really quickly. Overall the staff is always really helpful and friendly.

Week in Review on Hiatus

The next Week in Review will be published 28 March.

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
Fri 14 Mar 2014 Plebe Parent Weekend Week in Review 0600-1630
Sat 15 Mar 2014  Plebe Parent Weekend Plebe Parent Weekend 0800-1000
Sun 16 Mar 2014 Spring Leave CLOSED
Mon 17 Mar 2014  Spring Leave 0700-1630
Tue 18 Mar 2014  Spring Leave 0700-1630
Wed 19 Mar 2014  Spring Leave 0700-1630
Thu 20 Mar 2014  Spring Leave 0700-1630
Fri 21 Mar 2014 Spring Leave 0700-1630

USMA Library Metrics

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

Access Services
Items Charged Out 1,216 669 921 983
Gate Count 3,666 3,623 5,844 5,620
ILL Article Requests 22 28 49 48
ILL Book Requests 31 27 19 27
Administrative Services
DV Tours 0 1 0 1
Significant Events Hosted 2 3 2 2
Events/Meetings Attended 17 15 20 26
Information Gateway
Reference Questions 101 37 82 85
Library Instruction Sessions 3 0 1 1
Cadets Attending Sessions 42 0 13 9
Materials Processing
Items Added – Books 61 206 155 110
Items Added – Digital 3,829 429 0 0
Items Added – GovDocs 106 194 146 34
Items Added – Other 26 0 0 2
Continuing Resource Check-Ins 47 161 235 88
Special Collections & Archives
Reference Inquiries 21 31 49 47
Research Visits < 1 hour 8 4 10 8
Research Visits < 1 day 6 5 3 3
Research Visits > 1 day 0 1 0 0
Instruction Sessions 5 2 0 0
Cadets Taught 96 36 0 0
Systems Management
Library Home Page Visits 4,870 3,179 4,447 4,893
LibGuides Visits 759 397 561 621
Digital Collections Visits 270 276 277 294
Facebook Visits 30 14 17 16
Public Printer Prints 4,172 3,167 7,849 7,865
Public Printer Copies 257 303 632 441
Public Printer Scans 11 34 197 44

Food for Thought

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

  • “The internet promised to feed our minds with knowledge. What have we learned? That our minds need more than that.” – The problem with too much information – Dougald Hine – Aeon
  • “Whether they work at a big research university, a small four-year college, or something in between, academic-library directors share a “resounding dedication” to teaching information literacy to undergraduates. Beyond that, the priorities they set for their libraries depend on the size and nature of their institutions and how many (or few) resources they have to work with.” – What Matters to Academic-Library Directors? Information Literacy – Wired Campus – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • “Practice is great! But practice alone won’t make you Yo Yo Ma.” – Scientists Debunk The Myth That 10,000 Hours Of Practice Makes You An Expert
  • “Academic libraries have been at the leading edge of technologically driven change for many years. Library services, from what I can see, have had to change at a faster rate than other academic services. Where teaching has changed mostly at the margins (so far), academic libraries have had to pivot from a regime of information scarcity (the card catalog, subscriptions, collections, etc.) to one of information abundance (Google). From purchasing journals to licensing databases. From housing books to providing collaborative work spaces. Has any part of the modern university changed more in the past 20 years than the library?” – Why the Academic Library Should Lead Higher Ed Change | Inside Higher Ed
  • “Today, the San Francisco-based literary startup Plympton launched an online fiction service called Rooster. It’s sold by subscription. It’s priced by the month. And it automatically delivers regular content to your iPhone or iPad. In other words, it’s a book service that looks a lot like a magazine service. And it’s just the latest example of how books are being packaged like magazines. With Rooster, readers pay $5 per month in exchange for a stream of bite-sized chunks of fiction. Each chunk takes just 15 minutes or so to read, and over the course of a month, they add up to two books. The service builds on the success of Plympton’s Daily Lit, which emails you classic literature in five-minute installments.” – The Future of Books Looks a Lot Like Netflix | Wired Business |
  • “The Wikipedian in Residence will, according to the job announcement, help to “expand coverage on Wikipedia of topics relevant to Houghton collections.” He or she will add sources for existing Wikipedia pages and create new pages “on notable topics.” The person will also “provide appropriate formatting and metadata (and OCR cleanup in the case of texts) to upload public domain content to Wikimedia and Wikisource, and facilitate the use of such materials by other Wikipedia users.” – Harvard’s Looking for a ‘Wikipedian in Residence’ – Megan Garber – The Atlantic
  • “If you asked people in 1989 what they needed to make their life better, it was unlikely that they would have said that a decentralized network of information nodes that are linked using hypertext.” – If you asked people in 1989… | chris dixon’s blog
  • “According to the official narrative, monitoring metadata is no big deal. But two Stanford University researchers wanted to see how “sensitive” metadata actually was. So they enlisted hundreds of volunteers to install an app called “MetaPhone” on their Androids to pick up that metadata over several months. What they found shocked them. “Participants had calls with Alcoholics Anonymous, gun stores, sexually transmitted disease clinics, strip clubs, and much more.” – The NSA Can Learn All Your Secrets From Your Phone Metadata
  • “A key theme in these survey findings is that many people see acquiring information as a highly social process in which trusted helpers matter,” Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project and a main author of the report said. “One of the main resources that people tap when they have questions is the networks of expertise. Even some of the most self-sufficient information consumers in our sample find that libraries and librarians can be part of their networks when they have problems to solve or decisions to make.” – PBS Newshour: Turns out the most engaged library users also biggest tech users

Excerpted from Infoneer Pulse, a digital commonplace book curated by Christopher Barth.

Read a Book Over Spring Break!

With Spring Break just around the corner, now is the perfect time to grab a book and do some pleasure reading.  With literally thousands of titles to choose from, the USMA Library is guaranteed to have something for everyone.  Need help making a selection?  Here are a few new additions highlighted from our collection.

JuniusFor history lovers there is Junius and Albert’s Adventures in the Confederacy: A Civil War Odyssey by Peter Carlson.  Publisher Info: This is the true story of Junius Browne and Albert Richardson who covered the Civil War for the New York Tribune until Confederates captured them. Shuffled from one Rebel prison to another, they escaped and trekked across the snow-covered Appalachians with the help of slaves and pro-Union bushwhackers.


indexFor fiction/suspense fans, there is The Fifth Assassin by Brian Meltzer. Publisher Info: Beecher White–the hero of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Inner Circle is about to discover the truth: that during the course of a hundred years, all four American Presidential assassins were secretly working together. What was their purpose? For whom do they really work? And why are they planning to kill the current President? Beecher is about to find out.  And most terrifyingly, he’s about to come face-to-face with the fifth assassin.

To read more about these books and other new titles, just click the link below.
Select a book cover to read summaries, reviews and learn where the item is located in the Library.

Of course, if you are looking to travel a little lighter, you can also browse the Library’s EBSCOhost E- Book Collection database which provides access to thousands of recently-published electronic books . You can find information on how to search and download these titles at the bottom of EBSCOhost E-book Collection home page.


If you STILL don’t see something of interest here, we invite you to search the Library’s catalog at  Or better yet, ask one of our knowledgeable staff members for a recommendation.  Happy reading and enjoy your break!

2014 Spring Leave Hours

Operating hours for Jefferson Hall and USMA Library circulation and reference services are listed below. The Special Collections and Archives Reading Room (JH 314) will be open only by appointment 17-21 March.  Staff and faculty seeking appointments should contact Suzanne Christoff by e-mail to

  • Friday 14 March – 0600-1630
  • Saturday 15 March – 0800-1000 for Plebe Parent Weekend Tours
  • Sunday 16 March – CLOSED
  • Monday 17 March – 0700-1630
  • Tuesday 18 March – 0700-1630
  • Wednesday 19 March – 0700-1630
  • Thursday 20 March – 0700-1630
  • Friday 21 March – 0700-1630
  • Saturday 22 March – CLOSED
  • Sunday 23 March 1500-2315
  • Monday 24 March – Regular Hours Resume

Week in Review – 7 March 2014

Library Survey Comments: Services and Facilities

In addition to the questions asked on the recent survey of faculty regarding library services, those taking the survey were invited to make any general comments. Those responses have been sorted out into different categories, grouped together with similar comments, and we have prepared responses where appropriate. This week is a look at comments that relate to library services and facilities. Comments are listed by bullets and responses are in green italic text.

  • I would love to see a digital pull where students and faculty and staff could request books online and then come in to pick them up at circulation.

We will consider this as a service.

  • Scout search engine is not very useful for research in scholarly works. I direct cadets away from it to the catalog and specific disciplinary databases such as Historical Abstracts.
  • Nothing specific, but I’d prefer to use Google Scholar or Web of Knowledge than navigating the website for journals.
  • Having the link to ConnectNY present in our own library search (as it used to be) was more efficient. So, if a book is not found in our own library search, I used to be able to simply click the Connect NY. Now, I have to go to the left sidebar and launch ConnectNY and then re-enter the info. Not a big deal, but it’s just one of those small things that helps save a little time.
  • The new Scout system may prove beneficial in the future, but presently it is a significant downgrade. The former website provided few links but of a high quality (think Google). Now with scout we get lots of links to a great deal of worthless information (think every other search engine from 10 years ago)
  • The search engine for finding a journal article is too complicated.

Did you know that Scout has one-click limiters to scholarly and peer-reviewed journals? It also can limit with one-click to the catalog or by many other facets. We think Scout significantly improves the ability for the community to quickly target sophisticated searches to the types of material you want without worrying about which information silo it came from. It is however a new tool and doesn’t work quite the same way the old systems did. We hope you’ll set aside some time to explore it and maybe arrange a training session with your liaison. We plan to soon directly integrate ConnectNY resources into Scout, which we think will even improve the old experience.

  • More selections of Popular authors for Recreational Use. I’m not quite sure if the Library has this already, but maybe have E-book capability so patrons can borrow to read with their Nook or Kindle.

We will continue to focus on rotating in a wide variety of selections into our Class of 1953 leisure reading collection. ConnectNY is also a great resource for additional authors and titles as well. We do offer tens of thousands of e-book titles through our online catalog, though generally they are not compatible with Kindles or Nooks. They often are compatible with other e-reading software titles for iPads or Android devices. The Post Library and AKO offer access to many popular reading titles for Kindle and other e-readers however. West Point residents are also eligible for library cards at some local public libraries like Cornwall Public Library, which also offers e-books for digital e-readers.

  • Rules for use of electronic books is often confusing. Is there a tutorial that helps using these materials in various formats?

Confusing is an understatement and we sincerely wish that publishers could agree to help us make this content available more easily. We do have a guide available that helps with one of our largest e-book packages: Please speak with your liaison with specific questions and we can help to make sure you have access in the best and most efficient way.

  • I’m horrified by the willingness of the administration to simply eliminate Interlibrary Loan at the first budgetary crisis. NO RESEARCH can be accomplished either by cadets or faculty during these periods which means that the MISSION cannot be accomplished–full stop.

Please know that the administration did not make an intentional choice to eliminate interlibrary loan services. USMA Library (and the entire Dean’s Directorate) lost all appropriated funding for several months last year. As such we were prohibited by federal spending regulations from incurring financial obligations that includes the shipment of materials. West Point even ran out of postage meter funds for a period of time. The Dean and Library are acutely aware of the disruption that these funding issues caused and we have worked to find alternate ways to continue these services in the future. Fun fact: during the 2012-13 academic year, USMA Library ran for almost four months without any significant expenditures except personnel. Doing so required an incredible amount of flexibility and creative thinking on the part of library staff. We know it was not a perfect situation, but most services continued even when those charged with resourcing our operations completely failed to do so.

  • The tool I find most useful for looking up electronic journal articles is Citation Linker. However, the link to this page is not easy to find. I have it bookmarked, but a more prominent display on the website could benefit others.

Thank you for the suggestion. We will consider this.

  • Continue to improve webpage / web services.

We no longer consider our website ever “done.” We will regularly make changes and improvements. Suggestions and comments are always welcome.

  • In-processing for instructors should include the library so that requests can be immediately made through the loan programs.

Most departments include the library in their new instructor orientations and we are considering other more broad initiatives. Please tell your colleagues who organize your in-processing that this should be a priority. We would be glad to work with them.

  • Improve ability to access resources outside of West Point intranet and add wireless access to non-government computers & mobile devices.

Nearly all our licensed resources are available from off-post. Please talk with your library liaison if you have questions about accessing them. We do offer a small network for personally-owned devices and hope to expand this functionality. You can see a reference librarian for information on how to access the network.

  • Please add the capability to export metadata for all resources both physical and online. For instance, the website makes recommendations for citations but does not allow you to export the info in the BIBTEX format. This would be VERY helpful for research. Thank you for what you do.

We will look into how this can be accomplished. Thank you for the suggestion.

  • Provide more information to the faculty as to how we can keep up with research trends (especially coming right from grad school) – does the USMA library have journal subscriptions? I don’t know.

We have many journal subscriptions. Please ask to set an appointment with your department’s library liaison. We would love to help you learn more about the library and our services.

  • The wireless bandwidth is too limited and slow to support cadet learning in the peak evening hours.

As you may know, USMA has recently improved available bandwidth. Ultimately, this is out of the control of the library however. The concern is certainly noted however.

  • Probably makes sense to turn the library’s printers/copiers into a profit-center or, at the very least, a break-even proposition going forward — just like every other college or university in America.

We now have print management that will help to curb waste. We are not planning to move to cost recovery for this, though we continue to work with other bodies at USMA to reinforce the idea that not all services are cheap and easy to provide (network bandwidth being another).

  • Do not close the library to cadets during football or similar.

Our hours of operation are always under consideration. For times when we know all cadets have other assigned duties (e.g. football games), it is difficult for us to justify staffing the facility as the number of research/study-related visitors is extremely low or zero. We currently maintain 103.25 hours service hours per week, all with professional staff.

  • Unfortunately I have not used the Library for anything but an alternate place to hold class.
  • I use the meeting rooms quite often. The staff are helpful in reserving the rooms.

We hope the classrooms have worked well for you.

  • The bathrooms are very clean. Specifically the shower in the basement. Whoever is responsible for cleaning deserves some kudos.

I think more people just found out there is a shower in our basement bathroom!

  • It would be great if the library could establish some workspace for faculty members, like other universities do.
  • This critique probably can’t be fixed, but it’s a shame there aren’t designated research carrels for faculty – probably 6-8 would be plenty – where we could keep library books (accessible to the staff if needed for cadet work) and get out of the office to work on research. The science departments have labs to do work (I assume) but the humanities use the library. It would have been so great if we’d had carrels like the ones in the old library (or like found in many other university libraries). I go to the library several times a week to work so that I can leave the distractions of the office environment, and so I have to take my work with me every time.

We know this is a service that many research libraries offer graduate students and faculty. It is less common for undergraduate libraries (though they often have study carrels for honors students). Unfortunately these were not designed into the facility and retrofitting this sort of space would require significant amount of public use space to be made private-use only.

  • The microfilm readers need to be placed in a dark room. There’s too much glare by the big windows.

Having too much light is not a problem all libraries have. We will continue to look for a way to address this. The biggest issue is making sure all the microfilm also can move with the readers.

  • Recommend an on-line support request process for reserving rooms.

We are working to build an online room reservation form. This will initially support the Haig Room, but our intent is to expand it to all spaces in the library.

  • I never understood why the library has carpet. It seems the cost to clean, maintain and replace would have been better served with a better floor option. For example Thayer Hall.

Carpet is beneficial from a sound management perspective, though keeping it clean is certainly an issue, particularly in the winter. Most academic libraries today are carpeted, though we will continue to watch our higher-traffic areas to consider what types of flooring make sense there.

  • It is very important to keep the library open on a liberal schedule. It is the premiere useful study space on post and its availability is essential in the support of cadets who are striving for excellence.

We work to maximize our hours given the constraints that exist on cadet time. While many academic libraries stay open later, we are required to close prior to TAPS. In compensation, we are open earlier than many other libraries because our cadets are in class earlier than most college students.

  • HOURS: This library has some of the most restrictive hours of any college or university library I have observed. While I understand that this is in part due to the cadet schedule and to funding, some library closures are inexcusable. For instance, there is absolutely no reason that the library should be closed for parades when the library could simply close blinds and allow non-parading cadets and faculty (and faculty research is important, even if our primary focus is cadets) to work. (I understand that this is not a library level decision.)

As noted in the previous response, decisions on library hours are primarily driven by the cadet schedule, and they are certainly more restricted in their time than other college students. The Library closes during parades at the direction of the Superintendent to ensure that the atmosphere of the parade is not disrupted. Keeping people away from the windows during those events is an issue if the facility is open, and many of the visitors are not cadets and faculty, but visitors seeking a better view.

Next week, we’ll look at comments regarding library staff and general thoughts.

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
Fri 7 Mar 2014 DAD Diversity Visit Week in Review Corbin Forum 0700-2100
Sat 8 Mar 2014 Corbin Forum 0900-2100
Sun 9 Mar 2014 Daylight Saving Time Begins 1100-2315
Mon 10 Mar 2014 Retirement Ceremony / Opera Forum 0700-2315
Tue 11 Mar 2014 Division Heads 0700-2315
Wed 12 Mar 2014 0700-2315
Thu 13 Mar 2014  Dean’s Staff 0700-2315
Fri 14 Mar 2014 Plebe Parent Weekend 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 789 1,216 669 921
Gate Count 3,735 3,666 3,623 5,844
ILL Article Requests 9 22 28 49
ILL Book Requests 27 31 27 19
Administrative Services
DV Tours 0 0 1 0
Significant Events Hosted 2 2 3 2
Events/Meetings Attended 19 17 15 20
Information Gateway
Reference Questions 72 101 37 82
Library Instruction Sessions 1 3 0 1
Cadets Attending Sessions 15 42 0 13
Materials Processing
Items Added – Books 54 61 206 155
Items Added – Digital 0 3,829 429 0
Items Added – GovDocs 68 106 194 146
Items Added – Other 4 26 0 0
Continuing Resource Check-Ins 58 47 161 235
Special Collections & Archives
Reference Inquiries 41 21 31 49
Research Visits < 1 hour 4 8 4 10
Research Visits < 1 day 5 6 5 3
Research Visits > 1 day 2 0 1 0
Instruction Sessions 1 5 2 0
Cadets Taught 17 96 36 0
Systems Management
Library Home Page Visits 3,594 4,870 3,179 4,447
LibGuides Visits 490 759 397 561
Digital Collections Visits 264 270 276 277
Facebook Visits 15 30 14 17
Public Printer Prints 3,754 4,172 3,167 7,849
Public Printer Copies 264 257 303 632
Public Printer Scans 22 11 34 1,531

Food for Thought

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

  • “By evaluating a heap of existing recipes and looking at what flavor-imparting molecules their ingredients contain, the computer can come up with radical combinations. One of the IBM food truck’s current recipes, the “Swiss-Thai Asparagus Quiche,” brings together Swiss gruyère, Greek feta, and Thai curry spices. If IBM keeps churning out combos like that, it’ll give fusion cuisine a run for its money.” – Watch out, creative class: Robots are coming after your jobs, too – Quartz
  • “Shareholder activism on ethical grounds is no new thing, and quite effective in certain areas. The $828.9 billion Government Pension Fund – Global of Norway, for instance, the world’s largest pension fund, excludes certain companies from investment on ethical grounds, and publishes a widely followed blacklist of corporations that it condemns, on grounds ranging from environmental damage to violation of the Geneva Convention. Would it be too difficult to envisage an investor as well as an academic boycott of companies that, for example, oppose open access to scientific research? Think about it.” – Reed Elsevier realizes restricting research raises revenues TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics
  • “The general picture is even bigger than the question of transferring online courses — it’s the question of transferring any courses,” aid Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges. “Most colleges or universities believe that their own courses are special.” – At Bowdoin and other colleges, online course credit gets a second look | Inside Higher Ed
  • “Examining public data from 279 courses from the most popular MOOC providers (Udacity, Coursera, edX), researcher Katy Jordan finds that the average course enrolls about 43,000 students. About 6.5% of those stick around ’til the end. When looking at the number of students who engaged at least a little bit with course materials, the number of completion jumps to 9.8%.” – Study: Massive Online Courses Enroll An Average Of 43,000 Students, 10% Completion | TechCrunch
  • “If we are to give students the right tools to navigate an increasingly math-driven world, we must teach them early on that mathematics is not just about numbers and how to solve equations but about concepts and ideas. It’s about things like symmetry groups, which physicists have used to predict subatomic particles — from quarks to the Higgs boson — and describe their interactions. Or Riemannian geometry, which goes far beyond the familiar Euclidean geometry, and which enabled Einstein to realize that the space we inhabit is curved. Or clock arithmetic — in which adding four hours to 10 a.m. does not get you to 14 but to 2 p.m. — which forms the basis of modern cryptography, protects our privacy in the digital world and, as we’ve learned, can be easily abused by the powers that be. We also need to convey to students that mathematical truths are objective, persistent and timeless. They are not subject to changing authority, fads or fashion. A mathematical statement is either true or false; it’s something we all agree on. To paraphrase William Blake, mathematics “cleanses the doors of perception.” – How our 1,000-year-old math curriculum cheats America’s kids –
  • “42% said they believed a “motherboard” was “the deck of a cruise ship.” A motherboard is usually a circuit board that holds many of the key components of a computer.” – 1 in 10 Americans think HTML is an STD, study finds –
  • “It is well known that America’s military dominates both the air and the sea. What’s less celebrated is that the US has also dominated the spectrum, a feat that is just as critical to the success of operations. Communications, navigation, battlefield logistics, precision munitions—all of these depend on complete and unfettered access to the spectrum, territory that must be vigilantly defended from enemy combatants. Having command of electromagnetic waves allows US forces to operate drones from a hemisphere away, guide cruise missiles inland from the sea, and alert patrols to danger on the road ahead. Just as important, blocking enemies from using the spectrum is critical to hindering their ability to cause mayhem, from detonating roadside bombs to organizing ambushes. As tablet computers and semiautonomous robots proliferate on battlefields in the years to come, spectrum dominance will only become more critical. Without clear and reliable access to the electromagnetic realm, many of America’s most effective weapons simply won’t work.” – Inside the New Arms Race to Control Bandwidth on the Battlefield | Threat Level |
  • “Angwin says that among other things she bought “a $230 service that encrypted my data in the Internet cloud; a $35 privacy filter to shield my laptop screen from coffee-shop voyeurs; and a $420 subscription to a portable Internet service to bypass untrusted connections,” among other things. While this may seem excessive, Angwin says that it’s worth it to avoid attacks from hackers and to avoid having everything she does online tracked by major tech companies. What this really boils down to is how much you’re willing to let Google, Facebook and other tech firms stalk you.” – The cost of online privacy: $2,200 a year – Yahoo News
  • “Too much of the public discourse on the value of higher education is driven by staid understanding of universities as degree mills that are easily replaced by online counterparts. But there is tremendous value in a campus, and universities would be well served to emphasize it and support its underlying activities. Likewise, MOOCs and other online education platforms need to recognize these factors to truly add or complement their vaue. We need to be careful here, or we really will end up with a situation where there are, as famously predicted, only 10 universities left in the world. Or we end up with a bunch of isolated online courses without a shared culture.” – Colleges Need to Act Like Startups — Or Risk Becoming Obsolete | Wired Opinion |
  • “With its single-serving coffee pods, Green Mountain Coffee has transformed the business of brew. Pop a capsule into one of the company’s Keurig machines, and the machine will instantly churn out your daily caffeine dose. But Green Mountain doesn’t want copycats taking the business it pioneered away. That’s why CEO Brian Kelley says its new coffee makers will include technology that prevents people from using pods from other companies. The approach has been compared to DRM restrictions that limit the sharing of digital music and video online. But more than just curbing your coffee choices, Green Mountain’s protections portend the kind of closed system that could gut the early promise of the Internet of Things — a promise that hinges on a broad network of digital, connected devices remaking the everyday world.” – Why Copyrighted Coffee May Cripple the Internet of Things | Wired Business |
  • “We are facing one of the biggest struggles of our times: the challenge for institutions is to treat their stakeholders (e.g users, employees, consumers, audience) as humans, not as data points.” – Tricia Wang “The Conceit of Oracles

Excerpted from Infoneer Pulse, a digital commonplace book curated by Christopher Barth.

Four USMA Library Staff Members Recognized at Dean’s Ceremony

Four USMA Library staff members were among those recognized at the Dean’s Ceremony held on 28 February 2014.

Manja Yirka and Thomas Lynch were welcomed as the Library’s newest employees; Manja as Serials Librarian for the Materials Processing Division and Tom as Reference Librarian for the Information Gateway Division.

Manja1 Tom Lynch (far left) and Manja Yirka (second from left)

Laura Mosher was honored for her ten years of service as a Reference Librarian with the Information Gateway Division.  Along with her regular librarian duties at West Point, Laura serves as a liaison to the Civil and Mechanical Engineering Department, and also volunteers with the Army Nordic Team as one of the Team’s Officers in Charge.

laura2 Laura Mosher receives commemorative plaque and 10 Year Pin from BD Trainor

Associate Director of Systems, Christine Bassett, was recognized for her role in implementing a print management system that has already reduced paper waste by 75% within the Library. For this accomplishment, she was awarded a Dean’s coin. Christine, who is leaving West Point, was also thanked for her two years of service at the USMA Library. She is taking a position as IT Manger with the Tacoma Public Library System.

Christine2 BD Trainor thanks Christine Bassett

Photos provided by Anthony Battista/DPTMS VI