So, in the bad old days, we shuttled books and articles back and forth between libraries.
Now, in the days of ILL2.0, where much of our collection is electronic and governed by license agreements, we shuttle people back and forth between libraries. “We’re sorry, you’ll have to actually go to St. Olaf to read that. No, we can’t have them print and send a copy. Yes, I know it’s sitting there online, and we have access to the internet from here, too. And yes, I know we’re a consortium with cooperative borrowing privileges. Even so…”
The care and feeding of the library’s public printers takes a lot of our time, both in the library and in ITS. We have a special load-balancing set-up designed to keep individual printers from melting or going up in smoke. We have students who devote the bulk of their time to watching over the printers and emptying case after case of paper into them. A good portion of the meetings I attend and lead have printing somewhere on the agenda. Basically, printing is a big deal.
And now there are graphs to prove it.
There’s a lot of extraneous information in that chart for my purposes since it’s lifted from another report on Fall term printing. But I think the GIGANTIC MOUNTAIN OF PRINTED SHEETS in the middle pretty much speaks for itself.
Where do students print on campus? In the library, that’s where
(p.s. If you’re curious, that’s about 5,300 pages every day of the term, or about 7 pages every minute the library is open, which was a 36% reduction over last year.)
It boggles my mind a little that loss of interlibrary loan services is so detrimental to academic library services that it can be cited over and over in an anti-trust complaint as a means of coercing business, and yet we haven’t made more of a stink about the non-lendable nature of the digital collections we’re all building with abandon. At my library well over 90% of our journals are electronic, as are a smaller but growing percentage of our books, and most of these things are not lendable. And we haven’t even gone as digital as a lot of libraries have.
What gives? Is it just because this is all so cool and future-y that we bend over and take our lashes like good little co-dependent gate-keepers? I guess we haven’t learned our lessons yet.
The librarians here at Carleton (and I’m sure at many other institutions) live right on the border between the world of faculty and students and the world of the other staff on campus. Especially here, where librarians are not faculty but tag along to many faculty functions, and where class schedules are not paced to start at the top of the hour, and where we’re involved with many other campus and library staff, we find ourselves having to juggle everything from vocabularies to schedules multiple times per day.
This term we’re trying something a little new. It’ll probably be a little trickier for us, but we’re hoping that it works better for faculty and students. This term we’re reorganizing our reference desk shifts to match up with the class schedule. This means that some shifts start at odd times (like 12:20 or 1:40), which will be at odds with meetings we have with other staff both here and at St. Olaf but which might make it easier for students and faculty to look at our schedules and see where our free time matches with theirs, and it might make it easier for us to visit classes without finding desk subs for 20 minutes or half an hour of our shifts.
Or it could end up just being a pain in the neck. But figuring that out is what pilot projects are all about, right?
This is probably only really exciting for me, but I’m SO EXCITED, so I thought I’d share. Those libguides we were working on over the last few months? Well, they went live today with the start of classes. I give you … [insert drum roll here] … Gould Guides!
Now, as with any transition, some things still need some work (by which I mean nearly all of our “general” guides, which will get updated as time allows, and certainly before Winter term), but the meat of it is done. And making the transition gave us all a wonderful oportunity to think carefully about the purpose of our guides, redesign most of them, spark renewed interest with our faculty, and talk amongst ourselves about each of our tips and tricks for making research guides as useful as possible.
As soon as our MetaLib upgrade happens, we’ll also start peppering these guides with highly customized search boxes… but doing that before the upgrade will just be an exercise in frustration, so we’re holding off. That’s another whole story and set of headaches…
But for now, the message is: Yay! GouldGuides!!! So excited!!!!!