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Library Student Resource Group

January 29, 2009

Present: Joy Brennan, Joey Brown, Hanna Chung, Laura Jones, Arielle Linsey, Nick Nardini, Mark Opal, Allison Ringhand, Kavitha Selvaraj, Anthony Todd, Jessica Westphal
Judi Nadler, Rachel Rosenberg, Sem Sutter, John Kimbrough

Agenda building and topics to address

Emails from the library

Several LSRG members commented on communication from the Library. Many would appreciate regular (1-2x/quarter) emails that are targeted to their subject area. College members seemed to appreciate the Class Librarian emails -- it would be nice if all subject specialists did something similiar for "their" graduate students. Other comments about email:

Joy and Hanna added that LSRG members could email their fellow students with Library updates and add "if you have additional Library questions, contact [me], your LSRG rep." Or ask departmental secretaries to let students know about their LSRG representative. Most LSRG graduate members were happy to do this. The Library might want to formulate questions for the LSRG to send out.

Jessica inquired if LSRG members should use a certain template when emailing, since they were doing it on behalf of the Library. We trust you to write to your peers, but Rachel is happy to take a look at things if you want -- just email her. Judi encouraged LSRG members to send drafts of their messages to Rachel.

Arielle asked if surveys were an option - one email from an LSRG member might not work for undergrads. Other campus units (housing/dining, for instance) send out an annual survey to all students. The Library could do a similar survey.

Contacting a librarian

Joy mentioned that it's sometimes difficult to find an appropriate librarian, especially if you're asking about something not in your main research area. Sem noted the list of subject specialists, and emphasized that students should feel free to contact any specialist, or to ask your main bibliographer to put you in contact with them. We are quite used to making referrals.

LSRG members pointed out that the list looks like a phone directory, and sometimes students worry that they are being rude and bothering a librarian. It would help if the page included pictures/head shots of specialists. (We would recognize a face, said Joy.) Would it be helpful, asked Rachel, if we had a publicity campaign encouraging people to ask a librarian?

One person asked about a suggestion box -- not just a virtual one, but a physical box (or boxes) in the Library. John will look into this.


Anthony noted that signage at the Reg had greatly improved over the past 5 years. (The giant floor maps are great.) However, the introductory signs (on the first floor) focus on call numbers and the exhibitions at the Special Collections Resarch Center. It would be great to have more signs that could help students become aware of all the services offered by the Library. Joy suggested a bulletin board or display case that could promote different Library services. Rachel said that the Library is exploring a wall-mounted plasma screen that would have much of the same functionality.

Rachel asked LSRG members if there were places on campus where people normally wait and stand around, where we could put eye-catching posters. Joy noted that if posters have an official Library logo, they might not get lost in the sea of flyers. Mark suggested very specific information for posters -- for example, a "Check out the Library" poster might not draw a glance, but "Doing research on protein folding?" would definitely draw his attention.

Website and E-Journals

The Library's website lists a lot of services, said Hanna, but doesn't provide any context - there's a link to CrossSearch, but no information on what it is, or why we should use it. It would be more helpful to have a "How do I find..." organization - to divide services by task.

LSRG members in the biological and physical sciences are principally concerned with access to journal articles. Off-campus access to e-journals via links within PubMed would be great (rather than having to switch back and forth between PubMed and the e-journal list). Further, said Mark, the formatting in some journals distorts in strange ways when viewed from off-campus. Han asked if catalog searches could be done by journal abbreviation. Judi replied that it isn't realistic to manually add abbreviations, but there may be some ways to automate this or do it for highly referenced journals. [UPDATE: It turns out many standard journal abbreviations ARE listed already in the catalog.]

It also would be nice to right-click on a result in Lens and have the normal link options available, such as "open in new tab" or "open in new window."

Kavitha alerted us that there is a first-year spring elective course where med students do literature searches in preparation for summer research. An early Spring quarter course in PubMed searching would be great.

Scanning and Printing

It would be great to have plainer instructions for the first floor printers and scanners, especially for evenings and weekends when Reference staff are not present. Jim informed us that Circulation staff are also being trained to keep an eye on the printers and help out if patrons look stuck. Many LSRG members were pleased to hear that drivers for laptop printing are available (though not yet for Linux -- John will inquire).

One LSRG member reports the A-Level computers in the USITE cluster don't seem to communicate well with the printers. Further, when she reported the problem to Reference, the staff were polite but didn't appear to act on the information. A problem was also reported with the card readers not giving full value for money deposited.

Budget Reductions

The Library, like all other campus units, has been asked to reduce its budget -- both short-term cuts and long-term reductions in expenses. In a previous meeting, we began discussing reductions that would be least painful to students, and what would be most painful. The Library staff understand that there is no one "student user:" patrons use the Library in various ways. Library hours make a difference for undergrads, depth of resources make a difference for graduate students, and so on.

All libraries nationwide have been affected by the slowing economy, and all are making cuts and reducing services. We are trying to make changes that will be less obvious to users, although there will be some outstanding changes. We are beginning the following reductions:

Judi noted that the Library very much needs your input as to what not to cut. Please think of what is most valuable to you, and let us know.

Mansueto Library Construction

Construction begain on November 3rd. Have LSRG members heard any complaints?

Joey lives in Max and hasn't heard any complaints about noise from the site, even from Max West residents, the building closest to the site. Nor has the site posed any problems, so far, for LSRG members who drive.

Jessica mentioned fumes getting into the A-Level processing areas of Special Collections. Jim replied that a contractor had initally stored vehicles with engines running next to the air intakes on the west side of the building. The workers have been alerted to the problem and moved their equipment. Further, Facilities has ordered special charcoal filters for the west intakes -- the same kind of filters used at Midway to keep jet exhaust from entering the terminal.

Rachel demoed the Mansueto Library website, including "This Month's Work" and photo pages. The photos are also available in a Flickr photostream. We hope to have a webcam running once the weather gets a little nicer. Most LSRG members generally felt they were getting enough information about the construction.

Next Meeting

Probably the 25th or 26th of February, continuing in room A-11 of Regenstein.