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: http://usma.libguides.com/ebl-cny. 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 – latimes.com
  • “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 – latimes.com
  • “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 | Wired.com
  • “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 | Wired.com
  • “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 | Wired.com
  • “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.