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Library responds to faculty survey
The library is taking the results of a user survey seriously and has already implemented some changes. Reshelving and photocopying services have been improved and a plan for renovating the interior of Babbidge Library includes restoring all the library's research and study spaces.
The survey of faculty members, conducted in November 1996, was the first systematic attempt to gather data on faculty opinion about the library. Nearly 400 faculty responded, 89 percent of them from Storrs.
"We're trying to make informed decisions about the future of the library," says Paul Kobulnicky, director of University Libraries.
In response to the survey, more student workers have been assigned to reshelving in the areas of Babbidge Library that house bound and current journals and monographs.
Four photocopiers have been replaced and the library has adopted a policy of replacing a portion of the copiers that are in public use each year.
In addition to renovations to research and study spaces that are scheduled for completion by the time the library is rededicated next fall, the 200 research studies on Levels 2-4, many of which have been disrupted by construction work, are being renovated and reintroduced this semester. They will also be wired for access to the University's computer network, for users with laptop computers.
Yet one of the biggest issues for faculty is harder to fix. Despite all the new electronic resources available, faculty said they want more books and journals. "Book and journal collections were the number one complaint in the survey," Kobulnicky says.
The problem goes beyond the University Libraries. "The issue of collections is a national problem arising from inflation in the cost of library materials," he says.
"Inflation in journals is beyond any reasonable expectation," adds David Kapp, special assistant to the director. "Although we spend more money, we end up with less. Print materials are experiencing a 10 to 15 percent price raise each year; our budget is increasing about 5 percent."
As a result of the survey, the library has set a cap on the amount to be spent on journals, especially in the sciences, so that the increasing cost of journals will not undermine the rest of collection. "We're trying to protect the monograph budget from erosion from rising serial costs," Kobulnicky says. "This is especially significant to the humanities, where monographs are more important than journals."
The library also has identified a core of the most frequently consulted journals that it will continue to subscribe to, and has taken steps to increase electronic access to articles, as well as to indexing and abstracting services, instead of buying the journals.
Kapp says the survey underscored the importance of printed materials, despite the spread of electronic resources. "The book is not going away. It's an important format for us," he says.
Kobulnicky says he expects faculty opinion about print and electronic library resources to shift over time, however. "Electronic resources are continually maturing," he says. "In addition, junior faculty members who are just coming out of graduate programs have more direct experience with electronically delivered information."
The faculty survey is the first stage in what will become a continuing review of library users. Kobulnicky says the library is currently surveying undergraduates and will survey graduate students after that.
The survey was launched with faculty members because of the key role they play in overall use of the library. "Faculty are largely responsible for instructional curricula and for research direction. We surveyed them first because of their role in determining directions for the library," he says. "Faculty generate student use of library."
Kobulnicky says the library will repeat the survey every two or three years, to track the changes. "It is important for us to know whether we're doing better."