Library Action Plans in Response to Graduate Student Comments

The Assessment Committee has worked hard to try and uncover issues within the BU libraries that need improvement. This information was made available to the library staff by means of posting copies of the reports about the Faculty Library Survey and the Graduate Student Survey onto the library website; and also by sending staff the comments made by the graduate students that pertain to the various BU libraries and departments.

At the library wide meeting in October, the results of the survey and the results of an analysis of the comments made by the graduate students were presented. Library staff came up with creative solutions to some of the issues that were raised at the meeting. This was inspiring and gave us all a glimpse of the dedication to excellence felt by many.

In order to follow up on our commitment to excellence BU library staff were asked to identify issues raised by the graduate student comments, that needed remediation. Managers then met with their departments to brainstorm how two of these issues within their departments could be resolved.

Below you will find the results of these brainstorming sessions, listed by library or department. Click on the + sign to see the issues raised and the solutions proposed.

BU Libraries

Mugar Library

Circulation

By Helen Jacoby, Head of Circulation

Issue 1

Patrons feel that they are being ignored by staff at the desk, and that staff are not approachable enough.

Solution 1

Staff and student workers will be systematically retrained in appropriately courteous behavior toward patrons, and will be reminded to be proactively attentive to all patron needs. To promote more immediate patron assistance, Circulation staff members will fill each work station in order, without gaps, beginning with the work station nearest the library entry.

Issue 2

The process for obtaining Consortium Cards is cumbersome and outdated.

Solution 2

The Consortium Card application form is now online, and on-line requests are now processed twice daily.

Collection Development


Steve Smith (Head, Collection Development) submitted changes that librarians had made in their collection development procedures.

Beth Restrick, Head of the African Studies Library:

Issue 1

There were several (different) comments made about the Africana collections. In one case, someone requested more African literature and criticism, another commented on the currency of certain collections, etc.

Solution 1

We will begin by following up on the comments about specific needs in our collections.
David Westley will take a look at some of our African literary journals, e.g. African Literature Review, etc. and identify recent titles to search for in our collection. I (Beth Restrick) will review our collection development policy as well as look at our overall collections to see if there are some things we can do without and use to bulk up other collections. For example, we currently receive about 9 newspapers from Library of Congress in Nairobi. They are rarely used and so I’d like to compare the cost of purchasing these vs. online subscriptions and see if the remainder would be sufficient for purchasing additional online journals or government documents. David Westley and I would be involved in this process in close consultation with Steve Smith and our African Studies faculty.
I hope to begin the process this semester, though it very likely will extend beyond that. Our first step is to assess and identify gaps/weaknesses in our collection (based on the grad survey comments and our own knowledge of the collections). My apologies that this is somewhat vague, as an assessment will inform how we proceed.

 

Diane d’Almeida (Librarian for Communication, Hospitality and Tourism, Linguistics, Modern Languages & Comparative Literature)

Issue 2

Need to collect more works on Asia

Solution 2

Spoke to a faculty member Keith Vincent, in person, and we discussed this. I am more alert when I see works (literature, history, Harvard Press, etc) on and about Asia and I purchase more works in my subject areas on this subject.

Digital Initiatives

By Jack Ammerman, Associate University Librarian for Digital Initiatives and Open Access

Issue 1

Linking between Primo and blackboard.

Solution 1

We are working to implement linking between Primo and Blackboard.

Issue 2

Implement an ETD (Electronic Thesis and Dissertation) program.

Solution 2

We are implementing an ETD (Electronic Thesis and Dissertation) program.

Institutional Repository

By Vika Zafrin, Institutional Repository Librarian

Issue 1

People want help with storage and management of research data.

Solution 1

The repository will be part of the answer, though by no means the entire answer. There is a research data management working group, headed by Erik Brisson (IS&T) and Jack Ammerman (BU Libraries). We are working on a comprehensive solution with which we hope to address most, if not all, of BU’s data management needs.

Issue 2

A few people throughout the survey have requested that more of our holdings be digitized and put online.

Solution 2

At Digital Initiatives and Open Access, we are thinking about expanding our digitization services. Specifically as regards a place to put digitized materials, that’s where the institutional repository OpenBU comes in. We have a long way to go in improving this service; in my position, I’ve been working with Jack Ammerman on both strategy and implementation. Two of my goals for the upcoming year are to write a program statement for the repository (to accord with the DIOA program statement, also in development) and to come up with a plan for moving the repository away from its current software platform, which doesn’t adequately serve our needs.

ILL and Distance Services

By Sarah Struble, Distance Services and Resource Sharing Librarian

Issue 1

A number of survey respondents asked for articles requested via ILL to be delivered electronically. A few respondents also noted that, as online/distance education students, ILL services were not open to them if materials had to be retrieved in person.

Solution 1

As part of bringing ILLiad borrowing online during the Fall 2012 semester, we are now able to fill nearly all ILL article requests with online copies. For those small percentage of requests that cannot be filled with online copies because of publisher/vender licensing restrictions, we are mailing paper copies to online/distance students.

Issue 2

ILL user request forms described by survey respondents as “cumbersome,” “counterintuitive,” “difficult to navigate.”

Solution 2

As an initial improvement, implementing ILLiad borrowing makes the process slightly easier (e.g., only ever need to fill in personal data once, can view request status and ask for loan renewals online). The second step to improve the requesting process will be to get openURL requesting working, so that request forms can be auto-populated. A group of ILL/resource sharing staff from Med, Theology and Mugar have worked together to bring ILLiad borrowing online, and will continue to meet to move openURL work forward once some of the remaining ILLiad issues have been resolved.

Metadata Services

By Roger Brisson, Head Metadata & Cataloging

Issue 1

Improve timeliness of processing materials that are ordered.

Solution 1

With the introduction Alma, library technical services has embarked on a comprehensive restructuring of materials processing workflows. When completed, this should dramatically reduce the time between initial order and getting books in the stacks.

Issue 2

Improve inventory control of library materials.

Solution 2

Library technical services is making full use of the work order/request processing control system in Alma to tag and track all materials going through the work flows. The goal is that any book not on the shelves should be accounted for with a processing status in Alma.

Microforms/Shelving

By Roland Rodene, Supervisor, Microforms / Current Periodicals / Stacks / Study Carrels

Issue 1

The books in the stacks are not in call number order.

Solution 1

We have added additional staff members to shelf-read throughout the year, helping to ensure better order and easier accessibility for patrons.

Issue 2

There are not enough microfilm scanning machines available to patrons.

Solution 2

We are exploring the possibility of acquiring equipment which would solve this problem. In the meantime the Microforms staff members are happy to assist as necessary

Reserves

By Debra Fields-Berry, Reserves Supervisor

Issue 1

Requested items are not processed quickly enough.

Solution 1

Adapting to the newly implemented computer system is now allowing more control over the workflow and a decrease in turnaround time. Processing time is regularly less than 24 hours, and often done within minutes of materials being dropped off.

Issue 2

More copies of requested items should be on Reserve.

Solution 2

The great majority of the readings on reserve are now available electronically which allows multiple users to access them simultaneously. The Reserve staff will also pass patrons requests for additional copies of items on to the instructor, allowing instructors to request additional copies of necessary readings through the appropriate selectors as they desire.

Security

By Luiz Costa, Security Manager

Issue 1

The survey responses indicate that noise and food are most concerning.

Solution 1

We increased our monitoring patrols in Mugar, with emphasis on these issues, with the assistance of our student security staff. Also, we increased the “no food” enforcement, by starting at the entrance, asking patrons not to bring food into the building. As you can imagine, this is a difficult task because beverages are allowed and patrons seem to think that food and beverage goes hand in hand.

Our goal with food and noise enforcement is to do so diplomatically, avoiding confrontation, remaining polite and courteous at all times while enforcing these regulations.

Meanwhile, we have (and have considered) other actions and procedures to further this cause, including asking for assistance with posters that can publicize these concerns.

Issue 2

Student comments revealed that they would like designated quiet areas where they can work away from noise.

Solution 2

Regarding noise, a recommendation has been made to Library Administration to locate a section and/or floor in the Mugar Library to be designated as a Quiet Zone. Security staff are able to recommend the PAL Lounge, third floor, to patrons in need of group study and discussion. However, currently there are no designated spots for absolute quiet study. A request to assess this need and for potential location(s) has been made.

 

Branch Libraries

African Studies Library

By Beth Restrick, Head of the African Studies Library

Issue 1

There were several (different) comments made about the Africana collections. In one case, someone requested more African literature and criticism, another commented on the currency of certain collections, etc.

Solution 1

We will begin by following up on the comments about specific needs in our collections.
David Westley will take a look at some of our African literary journals, e.g. African Literature Review, etc. and identify recent titles to search for in our collection. I (Beth Restrick) will review our collection development policy as well as look at our overall collections to see if there are some things we can do without and use to bulk up other collections. For example, we currently receive about 9 newspapers from Library of Congress in Nairobi. They are rarely used and so I’d like to compare the cost of purchasing these vs. online subscriptions and see if the remainder would be sufficient for purchasing additional online journals or government documents. David Westley and I would be involved in this process in close consultation with Steve Smith and our African Studies faculty.
I hope to begin the process this semester, though it very likely will extend beyond that. Our first step is to assess and identify gaps/weaknesses in our collection (based on the grad survey comments and our own knowledge of the collections). My apologies that this is somewhat vague, as an assessment will inform how we proceed.

Issue 2

Students expressed the need for more electrical outlets (on the 6th floor in particular).

Solution 2

We’d like to identify all current outlets on the 6th floor and explore the possibility of purchasing power strips for each of these. Ideally these would be purchased before the final exams (the 6th floor carrels are often at full capacity during exam periods).

Issue 3

Many students echoed the sentiment in this comment: “Many a time a required book is not where it is supposed to be on the Mugar shelves. Ask at the desk and you are told to go look in the room with the copy machines…”

Solution 3

In an effort to address this and the confusion over placement of books, the African Studies Library staff undertook a project last summer to reorganize the collections on the 6th floor so that they were in alphabetical order. New signs and floor plans were posted to facilitate access to these collections. The entire staff participated in shelf-reading the collections, ensuring that items were in correct order as well as identifying damaged books for repair, etc. This project stopped when we turned our attention to learning the new library system.

We will continue to shelf-read each week, working our way through the entire collection on the 6th floor. This work will be incorporated as an ongoing part of the library staff’s daily and weekly responsibilities.

Frederick S. Pardee Management Library

By Arlyne Jackson, Head of the Frederick S. Pardee Management Library

Issue 1

Desire for instruction and orientation sessions; a few students even suggested good times for these orientation sessions.

Solution 1

We will be making an effort to be included in the orientation for new MBA students in the late summer/early fall. We will also follow up with voluntary orientation sessions in the library. We are also planning to create tutorials in Jing that can be available from our website. We will continue our outreach to faculty concerning library services, collections, and instruction so that these services can be communicated to students.

Issue 2

Lack of knowledge about the management and economics collections

Solution 2

In order to inform students of our collections, services, databases and web guides, we will continue to send notices to undergraduate and graduate students through the weekly email newsletters sent to students by the Graduate Program and Undergraduate Program Offices. These notices will highlight new databases, other resources and orientation/instruction sessions. We also plan to send relevant news items and notes to the students in the specialized graduate programs such as Health Sector Management and the Public and Nonprofit Management program. We also plan to contact student clubs such as the Marketing and Finance clubs. The School of Management is closely affiliated with the BU Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (ITEC) and we plan to bring library resources in Entrepreneurship to their attention.

For the Economics collection and Economics Department, we will work to address many of the specific concerns regarding the Economics collection. In many cases the concerns about a lack of material were incorrect, but demonstrated a need to better educate the Economics graduate students and faculty about what is actually available. Brock, the bibliographer for Economics and liaison to the Economics Department, will work on communicating information on new and existing library collections, services, and instructional sessions through more frequent emails and perhaps a newsletter. Brock will also offer to follow up with additional joint presentation sessions that he has presented with Kathy Berger for economics classes.

Music Library

By Holly Mockovak, Head of the Music Library

Issue 1

Some grad students mentioned they would like the Music Library to be open more hours.

Solution 1

Since the physical area of the Music Listening Room in Mugar is “prime,” its attendant staff who can offer support from research help to paging from closed-stack collections, agree that extending hours could be helpful.

For the January and March 2013 intersessions, we offered both Saturday and Sunday hours (in past years, we offered only one Sunday the day before classes resume).

Staff Result: with no undergrad student assistants in town, however, this streched our permanent staff too thin over too many hours without backup or break.
There was little scheduling flexibility for staff group work, meeting attendance, making of appointments, or project work across departments.

Patron Result: walk-in, phone and email patron traffic was extremely light, marginal, and included a visitor. This year we cannot document that there was an increase in BU-related patron weekend use.

Conclusion: it is only with sufficient permanent and student staff that we can sustain our current semester hours and continue with the expanded intersession hours. We hope to offer mini research refreshers, and otherwise just get word out what our hours are so that students can consider that in their planning. Note that scheduling for generous hours during the summer months (mid-May through August) is challenging, too, and remains dependent on sufficient resouces for student assistant staff.

Longer-term we would like to re-design some of our spaces to accommodate a wider variety of activities. Imagine what you would like to see here — we’d love to hear from you.

Issue 2

A student remarks that it would be nice to have a catalog just for the recordings.

Solution 2

We agree, this is critical content–and includes video resources as well– that for a year and a half has not been faceting in the online catalog.

Good news on facets: in February of 2013 a concentrated effort by the library systems technical staff was at last able to clear up some of the audio/visual identification troubles. This means that after your initial BU Libraries basic search, your results summarize by facets (those are the links down the left-hand side of the display screen) and you will see Music options to limit to audio and visual content as you keep navigating.

Alternative search: keep in mind the worldcat local search clearly displays format options in its search result and is particularly good for identifying physical recordings. This sort of clarity is what the BU Libraries basic search facets is also aiming for although development is ongoing.

In future: an ideal development of the BU Libraries search is to enable the searcher–probably via the Advanced Search–to indicate that the search terms should, from the start, include only certain formats such as scores, or recordings, videos, manuscripts, etc., whether in physical or online form, etc. The Advanced Search holds great promise and its development is ongoing.

Issue 3

Of the things that patrons are not finding, a number of comments refer to difficulty finding things that are supposed to be on shelves but are not.

Solution 3

We agree and sympathize! As frustrating as things might have been for students at the time of the survey, some things got worse in the fall of 2013 and are persisting through this Spring 2013: about 15,000 items (books, scores, recordings) that used to be clearly indicated Music Storage have had that status/indication changed (incorrectly) to “in place” in an open stack location rather than a closed-stack location. And, our open stack shelves are packed; scores, in particular, can easily be misfiled (complicated call numbers), are arduous to search through (many thin scores in dimly-lit aisles) and paper-writers for undergrad music topics routinely “plow through” our book stacks.

Actions: music staff shelf-reading in both scores and stacks is constant–and must continue. Library systems staff are predicted to soon be able to use the new catalog system to either permanently remove an item from the catalog, or send it to remote storage (for retrieval by a ‘click’ request).

Most urgently: for the many items in Music Storage, either our library systems staff will help us do a global update of location information in the catalog, or music staff will inventory and change locations (this would be a Summer 2013 project with our student assistants). The head and assistant head will need to know the technical details in order to ensure correct representation of the inventory.

In short: we need both major ‘physical’ housekeeping, collection content weeding/removal along creating space for new titles and ease of browsing in general, and to work with systems staff to adjust the catalog language to truly indicate where something is. Since all through this process, purchase ideas will occur–please also send us yours!

Time out for an FYI:

As regards issues related to the above paragraphs, we do get calls from some patrons who want to know something is really and truly available before making a trip in. We pull or research these things and call back or give alternatives if something isn’t found. It is a small step to take with a patron on the phone or by email when we are so often with other patrons in searching right on the premises. Student assistants happily step up to help, too. This unofficial “timesaver” service has been necessary especially during this time of catalog transition.

Issue 4

The general concern expressed that patrons aren’t finding what they want when they search.

Solution 4

There is no one solution as the very search terms themselves (especially in music titles) may cross a variety of languages or spelling, and the variety of results displays to be interpreted may include, or drop, relevant results depending on how initial results are interpreted.

Like controlling subject vocabularies, putting other identifying elements to work such as music uniform titles can help with certain search approaches. While we reach some patrons through classes or routine reference work, the music staff need to create really brief illustrations of these, as concrete search tips, and get the word out more broadly. We know you want and need to do a great deal on your own and to know multiple strategies. A fresh group of ongoing mini music research bootcamps (to explain uniform titles and when they might be put to use) can be devised for online and face-to-face use.

We also recently had a Mugar Music staff member meet with the head of CFA’s Music Curriculum Library; the MCL collection has its own catalog, scope and mission, and the two libraries complement each other. The goal was for each library destination to build their readiness as “go-to” starting places for users and that librarians confidently approaching both catalogs and collections resources, passing on knowledge to their respective staffs and patrons.

Pickering Educational Resources Library

By Dan Benedetti, Head of the Pickering Educational Resources Library

Issue 1

To me, the need for study space (both for quiet study and group work) was one major theme that arose from the survey. We saw specific comments about this as well.

Solution 1

Fortunately in PERL, we have an area in the library that was readily highlighted as quiet or group study space – so our implementation of this solution is completed. We have now highlighted the rooms with an icon on our interactive floor plan, with a web page dedicated to information about our “Quiet Study Spaces”. The rooms can even be reserved, and we have had students request reservations.

Issue 2

A direct quote from the survey comments: “we need more access to journals online!”

Many graduate students shared similar reflections on the quality of our journal collections. It was perhaps the most prevalent sentiment we received. The problem is not a simple one. We know we lack some access to some important journals, but we did also find that people had trouble locating or accessing items to which we DO subscribe.

Solution 2

As the Education selector I have initiated a variety of projects designed to assess our collections systematically; especially in regards to electronic journals. The implementation of a new library system has resulted in some broken links in BU Libraries Search. I consider it a high priority to ensure that access to those journals we DO subscribe to is available through BU Libraries Search.
As a corollary, we must always continue to try to be aware of quality sources to which we really DO NOT subscribe. Suggestions for additions to our collections are actively sought and tracked at the Pickering Library.

Science & Engineering Library

By David Fristrom, Head of the Science & Engineering Library

Issue 1

There were several complaints that the Science & Engineering Library (SEL) is ugly, scary, uncomfortable, etc.

Solution 1

SEL was renovated over the 2012/2013 winter intersession, including removing unused shelves on the first floor, patching the carpet, and fresh paint. Additional study desks and soft seating were added. New signs are being ordered (March 1013). A “Reading Corner” was created, with a new books shelf, current print journals, and the new recreational science collection. An information desk has been created to greet all visitors; staffing for the desk is being worked out, and it should open around April 2013. Altogether, every effort has been made to make SEL a more pleasant place to visit.

Issue 2

Numerous requests for outlets for laptops.

Solution 2

As part of the winter 2012/2013 renovation, outlets have been added to many study tables and cubicles.

 

Professional Libraries

School of Theology Library

By Amy Limpitlaw, Head Librarian

All of the issues raised through the Graduate Student survey will be brought to the attention of the School of Theology Library Committee for further discussion and consideration.

Issue 1

Library hours. There were numerous comments about the hours the Theology Library is open, including complaints about not being open on Sundays.

Solution 1

When the Library creates its budget for the upcoming fiscal year (2013-2014) we will seek to find ways to increase the hours we are open, if possible. A dramatic increase in the number of open hours is unlikely because it is not economically feasible at this time, but we will try to gradually increase the open hours including possibly opening for a few hours on Sundays during the academic year or at least during reading periods. This issue will also be raised with the School of Theology Library Committee.

Issue 2

Library holdings. There were a number of complaints about the holdings at the Theology Library especially as compared to the library holdings of peer institutions Harvard Divinity School and Boston College.

Solution 2

The past two years have seen a substantial increase in the acquisitions budget of the Theology Library, thanks to the support of the Dean of the School of Theology and the Provost, and to fundraising efforts from the School of Theology Development office. The library has been working to assess its current holdings and to identify areas that need to be improved. In line with this effort, the library has embarked on a pilot program of hiring doctoral students at the School of Theology to work as “library liaisons” with faculty in their subject areas. These doctoral students consult with the faculty to identify and recommend texts and other resources to add to the library’s collections.

Issue 3

There were a number of complaints about the slowness of the public computers in the library.

Solution 3

We have contacted the IS&T representative for the School of Theology and requested a periodic checkup be scheduled for all the public workstations.

Issue 4

Library space. There were some suggestions for the need to develop group study spaces at the library.

Solution 4

The School of Theology hopes to plan a renovation of the library within the next 3-5 years. A fundraising plan has been started for this purpose. We expect that renovation plans will include the creation of at least 1 (and possibly more) group study spaces.