Library Student Advisory Group
January 22 2014
Present: Davi Strauss Bernstein, Drew Donaldson, Charles Kargman, Evan Kuehn, Jane McCamant, Aidan Mitliff, Abigail Shearrow, Haonan (Bill) Zhou
From the Library:James Vaughan (chair), David Bottorff, David Larsen, Rachel Rosenberg, Rebecca Starkey, John Kimbrough
If you know of any eligible grad students who would like to serve on LSAG, please let Rebecca know.
At our last meeting we previewed the new Library Catalog (VuFind). We are hoping to launch a public beta sometime later in Winter Quarter, with the new catalog appearing as an additional option on the Library website. While Lens and HIP would continue to be available for several weeks, we may remove these options from the main Library home page to encourage use of the new catalog.
Are there other ways we could encourage use of the new catalog? (One LSAG member suggested making VuFind the default option for searching during the public beta period.) Please let us know if you have ideas.
Book a Room Service
David Bottorff, the Library's Head of Collection Management and Maintenance, reported on the Library's Book A Room service, allowing patrons to reserve rooms in Crerar and Regenstein. The Library piloted the service beginning in Winter and Spring quarters 2013. During the spring and summer we analyzed usage data and distributed a survey to patrons who used the service. Based on the analysis and survey results, we made changes this fall and took the service "out of pilot."
Book A Room Survey
The survey was sent to 2200 users of the service last summer. We received over 300 responses (a good return rate). 65% of the respondents were undergraduates. Most of the remainder were graduate students. In general, we received a lot of positive feedback and many helpful suggestions for improving the service. Some highlights from the survey:
- We looked very closely at time limits: last academic year we had a 2-hour maximum on booking times, and while most respondents were happy with this limit, a substantial minority asked if the time limit could be extended. Beginning in Fall 2013, we increased the time limit to 3 hours.
- When booking rooms, users looked for appropriate size/capacity and the availability of a whiteboard/chalkboard. The technology available in a room (e.g., a screen or projector) and proximity to Library collections were not rated as very important.
- Several people asked if the registration/booking process could be smoother. We have been working with Springshare (the software vendor) to implement Shibboleth technology, which would allow people to identify via CNetID, and we made some wording/placement changes to make room policies a little more visible.
- The most frequently requested "enhancements" to the Library's rooms were (a) more rooms (possibly splitting up larger rooms for small groups), and (b) soundproofing. We also got a few comments about room temperature and smells.
- A number of groups have figured out how to "game the system" by booking every other half-hour slot. Is there a way to only allow contiguous bookings?
- Not easily, replied David. We have to manually monitor the bookings, which we did during Winter and Spring 2013 -- but we found this was taking up a lot of staff time.
- Could the system send out emails when the confirmation period has expired? Some double bookings have occurred because groups thought they had a reservation, when in reality they hadn't confirmed.
- Any idea what the peak times for room usage are?
- From analyzing usage patterns we know that, in an average week, all rooms in Regenstein are booked about 28% of the time. At certain times of the year (e.g., 10th week) this figure rises to 52%. We're still figuring out precise traffic patterns, but we know the service is heavily used.
- Rooms are booked much less frequently in Crerar -- if you find all the rooms in Regenstein are booked, and you are willing to walk (under a block), generally a room is Crerar is available.
- Currently, rooms can only be booked one week in advance -- but some meetings are scheduled much farther out. Any chance the booking period could be extended?
- The vast majority of bookings take place less than 24 hours prior to the meeting, but we can certainly explore lengthening the booking period.
- Many of the whiteboards are on their "last legs" and are difficult to erase.
- We could investigate replacing whiteboards (let the Library know which rooms are in need of attention)
- One LSAG member suggested "whiteboard paint" -- painting one or more walls with special dry erase paint.
- The survey responses seemed to indicate technology, such as monitor hookups, wasn't a high priority. Any idea why students don't want this?
- Generally, people just want the rooms to "work:" to function at an optimal level.
- Expand the number of room spaces over adding available monitors.
Borrow Direct and UBorrow
(introduced by David Larsen, Head of Access Services and Assessment)
The University of Chicago Library participates in two partnerships facilitating expedited book delivery between institutions: Borrow Direct (Ivy League schools, MIT, and the Center for Research Libraries) and UBorrow (CIC/Big Ten schools and the Center for Research Libraries). Both services get books in about 5 days. Books can be checked out for up to 12 weeks in both systems. Books in UBorrow can be renewed for an additional four weeks and are not subject to recall by the home library; Books from Borrow Direct are non-renewable and may be recalled.
To borrow material from Borrow Direct or UBorrow, patrons can place requests in Lens for materials we own, but are currently checked out, or search the Borrow Direct and UBorrow catalogs directly via the Library's website. You can also place Borrow Direct and UBorrow requests via the FindIt! button (SFX) in Library databases such as WorldCat.
One of the Library's original motivations for entering into these partnerships was to provide an alternative to recalls. We're happy to report that recalls have dropped 30% since the introduction of UBorrow. Since both services get books in about 5 days, which is quicker than the average return time for a recall, you have a much better chance of getting material quickly via Borrow Direct and UBorrow.
David distributed a handout with some usage statistics about Borrow Direct and UBorrow -- some findings included:
- Most of the patrons using UBorrow and Borrow Direct (roughly 65%) are graduate students. Undergrads comprise about 15-20% of users, and the rest are faculty, staff, and other borrower types.
- We are a net borrower in UBorrow and a net lender in Borrow Direct.
- The Library's processing and shipping costs for Borrow Direct are $3.61/volume. The processing and shipping costs for a UBorrow volume are roughly $10.79/volume, because of different processing workflows (see below). Both services are cheaper for the Library than traditional interlibrary loan (roughly $18.00/volume).
Although Borrow Direct and UBorrow look very similar to patrons, the processing "behind the scenes" is quite different. Borrow Direct transactions are handled by our circulation system/ILS (Horizon) and almost all the processing is done by the Library's student staff. UBorrow transactions are handled by our interlibrary loan system (ILLiad) and require the involvement of full-time (clerical and supervisory) staff, making the cost per volume significantly more expensive. For patrons, these differences mean that Borrow Direct items show up in your Library Account list of items, along with any University of Chicago books you have checked out, while UBorrow items will display in your ILLiad account, along with items from Interlibrary Loan and Scan & Deliver.
Should patrons use Borrow Direct or UBorrow? The Library doesn't categorically advocate one service over the other; the different library partnerships have different collection strengths. When working in one subject area, patrons might find the Borrow Direct libraries have more of what they need, while in a different subject there are more items available via UBorrow. We encourage you to use whatever service you find most appropriate -- although Borrow Direct is significantly cheaper (in processing costs) for the Library.
- Is there any way to tell if a U of C book is checked out to UBorrow or Borrow Direct? One LSAG member said they wouldn't take the book from another U of C person, but they would be more inclined to recall an item if it was out to another university.
- Would a simple "Get It" button be useful, where all the decison-making about which service to use, which library to select, etc. takes place in the background?
- Would "Get It" add more staffing costs to the processing costs?
- It can be useful to know which libraries have a desired item, even if its not requestable -- one LSAG member said that Northwestern had a non-circulating copy, he would consider driving up to Evanston.
- The Library is mulling over extending the recall period on U of C items to two weeks (or 14 days), except for books recalled for course reserves, to encourage use of UBorrow and Borrow Direct. What does the LSAG think of tis?
- Having a longer recall period would help patrons who receive recalls during interim periods and may be out of town.
- Would the Library consider buying additional copies of frequently recalled items?
- David and Jim noted that the Library used to do this, but no longer purchases many duplicate copies except for items placed on course reserve.
- If the U of C holds an e-book, can we request a print copy via Borrow Direct or UBorrow? E-books are very inconvenient to read, especially on the EBSCO platform.
- Patrons can place requests for print copies of titles, even if U of C owns an e-copy.
- We cannot borrow/request e-books held by other libraries due to technical and copyright issues.
- If all U of C copies of a title are on reserve, could we get a copy from UBorrow or Borrow Direct, which would have a much longer loan period?
- David replied that the UBorrow and Borrow Direct systems technically will allow this. If you place a traditional (mediated) ILL request, our staff will usually step in and request you use the Reserve copy/copies -- although if you are not in the class and need the book for your own research, we are open to discussing the request.
- Generally it's difficult to find textbooks available through UBorrow or Borrow Direct, as the books are in high demand at their home libraries.
- How can the Library better publicize UBorrow and Borrow Direct to patrons?
- Slips in books? David noted we are currently putting slips in books requested via traditional ILL alerting patrons to Borrow Direct.
- Could we get more contextual links in the catalog? By the time we finish a search in Lens (or VuFind), it's very cumbersome to have to restart the search in a different interface.
- David noted that we could try to have a "didn't find what you were looking for?" link or "No results found...repeat your search in UBorrow or Borrow Direct" text and links.
- One LSAG member noted the current WorldCat interface is very clunky.
- Would an additional "tab" on the Library's home page (e.g., "Catalogs," "Other Libraries" (new tab), "Databases & Articles", and so on).
Library Emergency Procedures
When the University closed on the first day of Winter Quarter, Regenstein, Mansueto, and Crerar remained open. We had approximately 380 people come into Regenstein and Mansueto and about 40 people come into Crerar on that Monday. The University closing has prompted further discussion in the Library about what buildings should remain open and what Library services we should provide in case of severe weather or other situations requiring University closing. Should the Library stay open when the University closes? If so, what do you expect when you come into the Library?
LSAG members generally thought that it would be helpful for Regenstein (at least) to remain open in case of severe weather, although shorter hours (not staying open until 1am) might have been helpful for both students and Library staff. One LSAG member noted that more publicity about Library hours would be helpful, although Rachel noted that we had alerts both on the Library's website and the Library's Facebook page advertising our hours.
Regarding essential Library services, LSAG members thought "bare-bones services" (circulation and entry control) would be fine, provided patrons still had access to Library collections. Expecting reference or specialized bibliographic assistance (even remotely via chat) seemed unnecessary during a University closing.
How do you stay abreast of world, national and local news? Do you ever read newspapers provided by the Library, either in print or online? (One LSAG member mentioned she used to regularly photocopy the crossword puzzle from the New York Times.) Many students seem unaware that the Library offers full-text access to many newspapers. Rebecca briefly presented some of the Library's newspaper offerings, including:
- The Newspapers Research Guide, assembled by Library staff (http://guides.lib.uchicago.edu/newspapers);
- Factiva and LexisNexis Academic, two large databases with access to hundreds of papers;
- Factiva's "News Pages" allow easy access to top stories from major papers: see the screenshots in the Newspapers Research Guide for details
- Not all content in Factiva and LexisNexis is available to Library patrons
- Access to a small list of fully digitized historical papers through ProQuest Historical Newspapers (see left sidebar)
- Newspaper holdings in microfilm, either held locally (on the third floor of Regenstein) or available from the Center for Research Libraries
- Apps pre-loaded on the TECHB@R iPads that allow news reading (note these just aggregate free news content)
To find out if the Library has (online) access to a specific newspaper, you can search the Library's Ejournals list. For print holdings of newspapers, search Lens or ask a reference librarian. The Library generally does not provide access to newspapers via publisher websites (e.g., nytimes.com), because institutional subscriptions are very expensive and we already have full-text access through other databases, like Factiva.
Next Meeting and Future Topics
The next LSRG meeting will take place on February 18, 2014. Suggestions for future discussion topics are welcome; please send to Rebecca or the LSAG list: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some topics suggested at recent meetings include:
- Library hours: could departmental hours (e.g., SCRC) be extended beyond "normal business hours"?
- Publicizing credit card payments for Library fines and fees