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Front and Center: Getting library resources included in your University’s technology plan


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Presented at Educause Mid-Atlantic Conference 2001

Are library resources taking a back seat to technology at your university? Not at Wake Forest. Through its “Research and Classroom Tools” project, Z. Smith Reynolds Library keeps them in the forefront of both the University software load and its ThinkPad training program. This presentation focuses on how we did it and how you can, too.

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Front and Center: Getting library resources included in your University’s technology plan

  1. 1. Front and Center Getting library resources included in your university’s technology plan.
  2. 2. Who We Are <ul><li>Private, Liberal Arts University in Winston-Salem, NC (pop. 175,000) </li></ul><ul><li>3500 Undergraduates </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Receive laptops upon entering – exchanged after 2 years </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Standard university software load </li></ul></ul><ul><li>400 Faculty in undergraduate college </li></ul><ul><ul><li>On 2-year laptop replacement cycle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Standard university software load </li></ul></ul><ul><li>1500 Graduate Students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not automatically receive laptops </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. WFU TP Project History <ul><li>1995-1996 : Pilot with IBM ThinkPads (150 students) </li></ul><ul><li>1996-1997 : First full class receives ThinkPads. </li></ul><ul><li>1998-1999 : First student computer exchange </li></ul><ul><li>1999-2000 : All students on campus have a ThinkPad </li></ul>
  4. 4. WFU Standard Software Load <ul><li>Put on all computers issued by university. </li></ul><ul><li>Includes MSOffice, web applications, email and other university licensed products. </li></ul><ul><li>Developed by load team and tested for stability. </li></ul><ul><li>Updated annually and modified for new machine configurations. </li></ul><ul><li>Changes pushed out through login script. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Library Role in Project <ul><li>Library tapped to lead computer training portion of project in 1995. </li></ul><ul><li>Library consulted about configuration of software load for training. </li></ul><ul><li>Library staff now serve permanently on the load development team. </li></ul><ul><li>Library staff incorporate new resources into the software load each year. </li></ul><ul><li>Has created close working relationship between IS and the Library. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Research and Classroom Tools <ul><li>Load team used Start Menu for customized resources. </li></ul><ul><li>Library resources needed their own area. </li></ul><ul><li>Folder on the start menu created called Research and Classroom Tools </li></ul><ul><li>Library staff on load team create, test and approve contents of this folder each year. </li></ul>
  7. 7. RCT The Early Years <ul><li>Initially, Research and Classroom tools only included links to telnet library catalog and Firstsearch. </li></ul><ul><li>Gradually, some CD resources were added. </li></ul>
  8. 8. RCT Maturing <ul><li>Mixture of telnet, network and web links. </li></ul><ul><li>Links to early course management system. </li></ul><ul><li>Electronic databases began to appear. </li></ul><ul><li>Other WFU groups used RCT for their resources, too. </li></ul>
  9. 9. RCT Today <ul><li>Links to comprehensive electronic databases and journals list. </li></ul><ul><li>Web OPAC link. </li></ul><ul><li>Direct access to Library services – patron focus. </li></ul><ul><li>Course Management system link. </li></ul>
  10. 10. RCT Tomorrow <ul><li>Increased links to library services. </li></ul><ul><li>Increased focus on customer – focus groups and usability tests will drive direction of RCT. </li></ul><ul><li>Increased attention to patrons’ desire to access information wherever it is located. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Benefits of RCT Project <ul><li>Popularity of project helps validate strengths of ubiquitous computing environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Equal and consistent access to university resources reaches across student, faculty and staff groups. </li></ul><ul><li>Changes can be made across user groups. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Benefits, continued <ul><li>Access to resources any day, any time. </li></ul><ul><li>Standard location for resources ensures continuity of access over time. </li></ul><ul><li>Uniformity of access simplifies computer training and bibliographic instruction. </li></ul><ul><li>Less time spent helping faculty, staff and students locate resources, more time spent using the resources. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Lessons Learned <ul><li>Changes to linked resources (URLs, etc.) can break links in RCT. </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid tendency to resort to library jargon – ask customers what they want. </li></ul><ul><li>When you give people a uniform access point they use it, often at the expense of traditional paper-based research. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t change too drastically from one year to the next. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Model for Other Libraries <ul><li>While a standard university software load facilitates such a project, it is not necessary. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Standardized lab machines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Standardized library machines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Netscape Bookmark Lists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Links on a floppy disk </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Model, cont. <ul><li>Use library staff to develop resource list. </li></ul><ul><li>Usage statistics can point you to relevant resources. </li></ul><ul><li>Partner with IT department to include on standard software loads, or lab loads. </li></ul><ul><li>Use resource list in all Bibliographic Instruction done in the library. </li></ul><ul><li>Get your faculty to use it – they will pass the word on to students. </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Rosalind Tedford </li></ul><ul><li>Information Technology Center Manager </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>Giz Womack Information Technology Specialist [email_address]