Library Collections: how they are changing and will continue to change, and why we need your help

In the spring we held two conversations with faculty who were concerned about changes in our physical collections.  We have shared many news items and blog postings over the past several years to outline changes in academic libraries. The graph below captures changes in libraries over the past several years, and some future possibilities:

chart of how libraries are changing


(You will need to select the image to see the full version.) Image from: The Future of Academic Libraries, an interview with Steven Bell, March 26, 2012.

This article is six years old, but the progression on the chart for Collections from “just-in-case” to “On demand, anytime” best represents our current model for collections at Macalester.  The majority of our acquisitions budget is spent on services and access to electronic information.  Our model is access over ownership, to the benefit of our users. We own less now, but we have access to much more content than we’ve had before.  Because we no longer “own” the content, we are careful to review licenses to make sure we are able to provide access to materials with as few restrictions as possible.  However, access to information is changing, and not necessarily in a good way. Information has always been big business. Many faculty members in the sciences have heard me talk over the years about escalating subscription costs and consolidation of publishers.  We continue to see subscription costs rise 7 – 11% every year. The one pressing–and increasing –concern we have is:  how much access we can provide with the funding we have available?

One means of combating escalating costs is to decrease paywalls and increase our support for open access initiatives.  Consequently, we have put a significant amount of time and effort into promoting open access. As pointed out in a variety of publications and presentations, colleges and universities often pay three times for research:

  • Institutions pay authors to conduct research and draft papers, which are then transferred gratis to publishers
  • Institutions pay faculty who volunteer their time to peer-review and edit journal submissions, and serve as editors for journals
  • Institutions pay publishers for access to the final, published articles, written and edited by our faculty

And I would add a fourth time we pay when we pay article processing charges (APCs) to make an article openly accessible in a commercial journal.  We have seen an increase in faculty requests that we pay the APC. While our fund has grown, it is proving to be unsustainable in light of the rising costs of APCs.  As a result we will be making changes in our policies and procedures for next year.

Another issue in the increasing costs for information is the fact that we are now also seeing a commercialization of information in a completely different manner.  Access to information is changing and the commercialization of information is growing. For example, Monsanto is now the largest producer of agricultural information, not the US government.  This concerns me as we know that Monsanto will have proprietary control over crop information, and this will affect access to information scholars may want to look at regarding crop changes and climate changes.   More information on this new disturbing trend will be found in our June Collections Newsletter in our article on the Center for Research Library annual meeting. However disturbing this new trend is, it is still rising costs that affect our being able to provide “access on demand.”

Increasing costs and flat budgets are putting even greater pressure on our library budget.  In the fall we will be sharing more information about a new initiative we’d like to see faculty supporting.  OA2020 is an international initiative to accelerate the move to open access for scholarly journals.  We’ll be sharing information with our faculty Library Representatives at our fall meeting, and with our Library Advisory group in the fall as well.  Open Access Week this year is October 22 – 28 and the theme is Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge. We’d like to see our entire community get behind the initiative to break out of traditional dysfunctional patterns of faculty giving their work away for free and libraries having to buy it back at costs that were already spiraling out of control 25 years ago and now have only accelerated.  I look forward to meeting with faculty and discussing how Macalester can support this global initiative and contribute to making scholarship open and accessible for our current and future scholars. I’d welcome comments and feedback from you regarding your thoughts on how we can gather campus support for this pressing challenge. I’ll look forward to hearing from you. And you can always drop by my office anytime to share your thoughts.

My informal signature

Digital Literacies – skills for the 21st Century

The continual changes in technologies affect our lives in so many ways.  It is a constant struggle to stay abreast of those changes, make informed decisions, and choose when to migrate to the latest, greatest, newest hi-tech product or software update.  In higher education we know that technology impacts us in many ways, ranging from integrating technology into our teaching, to the impact of changes in G Suite on our daily work lives, to how digital tools can be introduced to students for assignments in the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities in meaningful ways.  One of the aims of our Mellon Grant for the Digital Liberal Arts is “to create a community of digital learners: faculty who have used digital techniques in both their research and the classroom those who are interested in doing so, and experts from our library and IT departments.” [1] It is this aspect of creating a “community of digital learners” that I’d like to address.

In their article, “From Written to Digital: The New Literacy”, Phil Ventimiglia and George Pullman begin by pointing out that Walter Isaacson in his book,  The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution  “contends that the major innovations of the digital revolution—from the first general-purpose computer to the transistor to the iPhone—were all created by individuals who understood how to synthesize the humanities with technology.”[2] On a similar theme, this spring there is a CST sponsored reading group that is reading the Fuzzy and the Techy: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the World.  The promotion for the reading group, read

In response to some of the discussions at the FAIR and faculty meetings this fall, our group will read venture capitalist Scott Hartley’s The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World. “Scott Hartley artfully explains why it is time for us to get over the false division between the human and the technical,” one reviewer writes. “If received and acted upon with the seriousness it deserves, we can anticipate real benefits for business and society.” “Great book for all,” writes another. “Blows up the false dichotomy in education between tech and liberal arts. This book shows that not only can both coexist; it is dangerous if they don’t both exist side by side in an integrated manner. They make each other more effective.”[3]

Both of these references point out the benefits of integrating technology into the liberal arts. This can occur on many different levels and integrating technology into the curriculum is already underway in many courses.  However,  as Ventimiglia and Pullman further point out, although teaching with technology is a focus in higher education, a more important issue is what are we teaching our students about living in a digital age.  They state, “[s]tudents can be more successful after graduation if they are digitally literate.”  So, I would like to suggest that we consider that it isn’t enough to just integrate technology into teaching.  In terms of creating a community of digital learners, how are we introducing students to what it means to be  “digitally literate?”  I think we need to start considering what is needed to ensure our students graduate with the skills they need to survive in the 21st century and we also need to consider how to convey to the students why this important for their future success. Just slightly more than thirty years ago members of the library staff embarked on the process of developing a program for integrating information literacy into the curriculum and it has developed into a very successful program.   Now we need to consider what it means to be a digitally literate person and why this is critical for the 21st century.

So what exactly is “digital literacy”?  Bryn Mawr has developed a Mellon-funded, ambitious program,  as outlined in their paper discussing the Bryn Mawr Digital Competencies Framework. [4] Built on the model of the Association for College and Research Libraries’ Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education . Bryn Mawr identifies 5 skill areas:

  1. Digital Survival Skills – learning network and file management, troubleshooting, and managing one’s digital identity and security, and developing critical understanding of databases.
  2. Digital Communication – learning use of collaborative tools, digital writing and publishing, and producing audiovisual materials.
  3. Data Management and Preservation – learning how to develop online surveys, protecting one’s data, and organizing, managing and preserving the data.
  4. Data Analysis and Presentation – learning how to use Excel along with software tools to manipulate data, and to develop skills in data visualization.
  5. Critical Making, Design and Development – learning how to interpret and edit computing code, developing competencies in design thinking, project management, and digital tools for disciplinary research.

You can go to Bryn Mawr’s Digital Competencies website and read in more detail about their initiative.  Their program focuses on helping students from the start of their education at Bryn Mawr to launching their careers.

Bryn Mawr’s program is inspiring and worth reviewing for consideration in developing a similar initiative at Macalester.   In today’s technology driven world, where change is rapid and constant, all fields leading to careers incorporate new technologies that require robust digital literacy skills.  In order to be nimble, our students need skills to survive in a technological environment that is pervasive at work, home, and recreation.  The role of the library staff in helping to develop digital literacy skills is partially based on the Framework for Information Literacy frame that focuses on Information Creation as a Process:

“Information in any format is produced to convey a message and is shared via a selected delivery method. The iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information vary, and the resulting product reflects these differences.” [5]

However, all of the digital skill areas identified by Bryn Mawr are based on the information literacy framework.  The library staff and ITS staff are involved in conversations about digital literacy because we see some specific needs we could address.  In addition, developing a program that focuses on digital literacy is something that would also specifically address one of the objectives in Macalester’s Strategic Plan.  It is stated that we want to  “[b]ecome a leader among liberal arts colleges in the use of technology to improve and broaden the reach of teaching and learning.”  I think if we want to become a leader, this involves the necessary task of improving the digital literacy skills in our students.

When we began our program to integrate information literacy into the curriculum, we started by focusing on the first year courses.  Today, every first year course includes a library component and we have expanded to include more library sessions in upper division and research oriented courses.  So, if we were to use a similar model, we need to find a starting point.  Conversations are underway between staff in the library and members of ITS about how best to move forward in developing a program focused on digital literacy competencies at Macalester for all members of our community.  As part of the Mellon grant is focused on creating a community of digital learners, what about a community focused on creating digitally literate individuals?  Would you be interested in joining the conversation?  If so, please send me a note and let me know and we will coordinate further conversations to help us develop a path forward.






  1. “Macalester Receives $800,00 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for Digital Liberal Arts and Writing,”

2. Phil Ventimiglia and George Pullman. “From Written to Digital: The New Literacy.” EDUCAUSE REVIEW, March/April 2016.

3.  CST News, Jan. 4, 2018

4.  Bryn Mawr College, “Bryn Mawr Digital Competencies Framework” (2016). Blending Learning Research and Open Educational Resources. 3.

5.  Association of College and Research Libraries, “Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. 2015.


Additional Readings

Alexander, B., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M. & Hall Giesinger, C. (2017). Digital Literacy in Higher Education, Part II: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. (Volume 3.4, August 2017).

2017 Digital Literacy Impact Study; an NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief, vo. 3.5, November 2017

Digital Learning and Inquiry (DLINQ) – Middlebury College –


Open Access Week – October 23-29

During Open Access Week we will be focusing our promotion on Lever Press and open access monograph publishing.  More people are familiar with open access journal publishing, so we’re going to focus on the initiatives we support that produce monographs.  As part of the week activities, we will be hosting a joint viewing of a live webinar featuring a panel of representatives from various initiatives talking about open access monographs.  The webinar will take place from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., and we will continue after the webinar for another 30 minutes to answer questions and share more information on Lever Press.  Participants will be able to submit questions during the broadcast, but we are also collecting questions ahead of the session.  (See form link at end of this post.)  We hope faculty and staff will join us to learn more about how scholarly publishing is changing.

Information on the event:

Open Access Monographs – Current initiatives and progress on sustainable models for making monographs openly accessible.  Webinar for Open Access Week, Tuesday, October 24, 3 p.m- 4:30 p.m. Harmon Room. – For Faculty & Staff.  Refreshments will be served.

The open access monograph is now definitely an important component of the scholarly communications landscape.  However, with a growing number of initiatives, publishers, and economic models, the question is sustainability.  There are a number of different models, including Open Book Publishers, Open Humanities Press, and numerous university and commercial publishers who have open monograph publications, thus more initiatives than we could include for this one-hour webinar.  A  selected number of representatives from various open monograph publishing initiatives will participate in a panel discussion about their current economic models and future of open access monographs.  Each panelist will give a brief statement about their initiative, their editorial review process, their funding model, and their perspectives on the future of open access monographs.  Following their brief statements, we will have a question and answer period moderated by Kevin Smith, the Dean of Libraries at  the University of Kansas.

Participants for the panel include:

  • AAUP Open Access Monograph Publishing InitiativeWendy Pradt Lougee, University Librarian and McKnight Presidential Professor, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.  The Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and Association of American University Presses (AAUP) are implementing a new initiative with 13 universities and 60 university presses participating.  Universities will provide subventions for open digital monographs, to be published by university presses.
  • Lever Press and Knowledge UnlatchedCharles Watkinson, Associate University Librarian for Publishing, University of Michigan Library, and Director, University of Michigan Press. University of Michigan Press and Amherst Press are partners in the Lever Press which is supported by pledging institutions. University of Michigan Press has also been an active participant in Knowledge Unlatched,  which uses a crowd -source funding model to make previously published works openly available. Charles is also a Board Member of Knowledge Unlatched Research and will compare Lever Press with KU.
  • LuminosErich van Rijn, Assistant Director, Director of Publishing Operations at University of California Press.  The financial model is shared costs between author, institution, publisher, and libraries.
  • University of Ottawa Press Lara Mainville, Director of University of Ottawa Press. OA publications are funded by the University of Ottawa libraries.
  • Moderator:  Kevin Smith, Dean of Libraries at the University of Kansas.  Prior to joining the University of Kansas, Kevin served as Director of Copyright and Scholarly Communications at the Duke University Libraries.

This webinar is being sponsored by Lever Press.  Please RSVP to join us in the Harmon Room with this form.

If you have a question for the panelists, questions are also being collected ahead of the presentation with this form.

I hope you’ll plan on joining us.

Summer isn’t always a time to slow down…

There is a common misperception that those of us in the library have a long break during the summer.  Many of us do get to take vacations, but the summer is usually quite busy and very productive for us.  This summer, in particular, was full of activity.  So, let me share a little information on some of our activities while many of you were away.

New spaces – Most folks are aware that there was construction on level 2 of the library.  We’re very excited to show off our new space and hope you will join us on September 18, from 3:30-5:00 p.m., when we will hold an open house for the campus community. In addition to seeing level 2, you’ll be able to check out our newly refurbished reading room on the main level that includes a new fireplace.  We’ve also created more study space on the lower level.  In addition to all the construction, we survived the replacement of our elevator, which created a few challenges for retrieving and shelving books.  And it is the second year of a three-year-project to replace carpet throughout the library, so we have newly installed carpet on level 3.  We are fairly proud of the fact that despite the construction, we were able to keep the library open for the entire summer, including time for visiting scholars here for the NEH-funded “World Religions and World Religions Discourse: Challenges of Teaching the Religions of the World” hosted by Jim Laine, Philosophy.  You can see images of the progress this summer on our Flickr Account with later images on our Instagram account.

Information LIteracy Program Learning Goals and Outcomes – The Reference and Instruction Librarians were very busy during the summer creating a new action plan for our instruction program.  One of the key documents that was developed was  a new detailed description of learning goals for various levels of students.  The librarians also worked on preparing for a pilot program in one of the first year courses.  Working with Professor Chris Wells, the librarians are looking at how to develop a program that goes beyond a one-shot classroom session.  In addition to these two projects, the librarians developed a three-year plan for strategic directions they want to take with our instruction program.  We will be sharing the details of these projects on our website after the start of the semester.

NEH Grant for an Open Textbook Project – We were so thrilled when we received word that a grant submitted by Britt Abel and Ron Joslin was approved to help fund development of Britt’s open textbook for German language instruction.  Britt and Ron have shared information on this project at CST lunch discussions and during a SPAW session last May.  We will provide more updates once we are able to share more details about this ongoing project.

Annual Report – We completed our annual summary of events in the library for 2016-17.  It was another year full of events and activities.  You can read our Annual Report online.

Staff Changes –  We welcomed a new staff member, Trisha Burr, as Electronic Resources Librarian and said farewell to Nate Nins, one of our Evening/Weekend Supervisors.  We wish Nate all the best as he starts a new position working with 3M’s service, biblioteca.  We look forward to welcoming a new Evening/Weekend Supervisor sometime during September.

Loss of a dear friend of the library – It was with deep sadness that we learned of the passing in July of Professor Emeritus Ellis Dye, German.  As one of the tenants on the fourth level with other retired faculty, I enjoyed many conversations with Ellis and he always had a warm, genuine smile.  He was always so appreciative of the interlibrary loan service.  We miss his presence in the building.

Possibly the biggest shock for us this summer – On August 2, it was announced via social media that bepress, our vendor who provides Digital Commons and our Selected Works pages, was acquired by Elsevier.  For those of us who have participated in efforts to expand open access to scholarship this was a sincere blow. The library community has many concerns about this acquisition. One of the best pieces that I have read was written about the need for non-profits to control scholarly communication.  Posted by the London School of Economics, you can read more on the blog posting entitled “Scholarly communications shouldn’t just be open, but non-profit too.”   Many conversations are taking place in terms of possible options and whether there are new opportunities to explore if we were to migrate away from the bepres platform.

LibGuides – Other projects included preparing a guide for the faculty retreat this fall on the topic of the Liberal Arts in the 21st Century, with links to both the RPC report and related background readings.  We also have prepared a guide for the International Roundtable in October:  Empathy and Its Discontents.  Faculty may be interested in some of the non-discipline specific guides the Research and Instruction Librarians have prepared on academic integrity and data management.  You’ll find these guides under the “All Guides” tab.

New Electronic Signage – We’re in the process of installing a new electronic sign that will appear on the main level and advertise events in the building.  We hope to have this in place by the second week of classes.

Those are just the highlights.  We have a lot to celebrate at the start of the new year. In addition to the open house on September 18th, we hope you will mark your calendars for the first Faculty Staff Happy Hour on September 27 from 3:30-5:30 in the Harmon Room.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Welcome back, and best wishes for a great start to the new academic year!  If you want to stop by and see our new spaces before the 18th, President Brian Rosbenberg is graciously covering coffee and pastries for the first couple of weeks for the first hours of the day.  We hope you’ll enjoy the changes we have made.



Lever Press; supporting new models in scholarly publishing and exploring new techniques with peer review

The DeWitt Wallace Library is just one of the more than 45 pledging institutions who are supporting the new publishing initiative, Lever Press.  Lever Press grew out of several years of study and investigation and you can read more about the background and history of these efforts on a website entitled, Lever Initiative.  Utilizing a new model that is based on libraries pledging financial support, Lever Press is committed to publishing monographs at no cost to the author or author’s institution.  Another distinguishing factor is that all monographs will be open access.  This collaborative project is built on three commitments (excerpts from the website): 

  • Alignment with the mission and ethos of liberal arts colleges. Like the colleges supporting our mission, we welcome works exploring intellectual connections across academic disciplines and divisions…Inspired by the close collaborations between faculty and undergraduate students at liberal arts colleges, we seek path-breaking ideas communicated with clarity and creativity—publications that “teach what they know.”
  • Platinum OA. Lever Press is a fully open access press: all works will be freely available to readers on the web immediately upon publication. Uniquely, Lever Press is committed to what we’re calling “Platinum OA,” in which all the costs of acquiring, editing, developing, and producing the work are borne collectively by our supporting institutions—not by individual authors or their sponsoring departments or institutions. …Platinum OA means one thing  more: that the work we produce is of the highest quality, and has been selected exactly because it is worth investing in.
  • Digitally native. While Lever Press titles will appear in print form wherever possible, we approach publishing as a digital-first endeavor. Unconstrained by legacy publishing processes and leveraging the opportunities for reuse facilitated by an open-access business model, Lever Press will welcome projects of digital scholarship not well served by scholarly conventions limited to print-only outcomes.   

As a new model, another interesting development of this press is related to the peer review process.  The peer review process is a key factor in scholarly publications, but it is managed in a variety of ways depending on the publisher.  Mark Edington, Editor of Lever Press, has developed a proposed system of identification for peer review of monographs based on the Creative Commons icons.  We recently hosted a webinar in which Mark Edington, Editor of Lever Press and Jason Mittell,  Professor of Film and Media Studies and American Studies at Middlebury College and member of the Editorial Board talk about the peer review process at Lever Press.  The webinar is hosted by Becky Welzenbach, Program Manager for Lever Press.  I would welcome your comments after you review the webinar.

Realizing a Vision

Last month I wrote about “Our Community as Creators.”  Continuing on that theme, I want to address some comments that have been made regarding our summer project for Level 2 of the library.  This project will result in realizing many aspects of a vision we shared four years ago.  Vision 2020 was written when we were celebrating the 25th anniversary of the DeWitt Wallace Library.  Now, four years later, it is especially helpful in connecting current students, faculty, and staff to our aspirations for the library spaces.

“Our vision for the Dewitt Wallace Library of 2020 is to expand and build up our current  vibrant and active space for engaging scholars.  We want a library that contributes to the transformative experience for all students as well as a space that will attract faculty to utilize our space, resources, and expertise…[a] primary emphasis for the library of 2020 will continue to be on the services we provide to support the scholarship of faculty and students.” [Vision 2020, p. 1]

Our vision for the DeWitt Wallace Library of 2020 has always been about scholarship, teaching, and learning.  However, we also envisioned a change as a result of providing access to more electronic content and fewer print, hard-copy materials.  In our vision, we outlined a plan for managing our print collection in order to allow us to do more with the spaces we have.  In that document, we focused on what we would like to see in our spaces with seven potential developments:

  • Content Creation Labs
  • More Comfortable Quiet Reading Spaces
  • More Comfortable Collaborative Working Spaces
  • Classroom 2020 Learning Lab
  • Special Collections – Expanding access and space
  • Media Collections Consolidated
  • Expanded Hours Study Space

Many recent comments I have received have focused on our “gutting the library” or turning the entire second floor into space for Entrepreneurship.  Neither is true, but the partnership with Kate Ryan Reiling, Entrepreneur in Residence, is one that we actively sought because we saw that many aspects of our vision for spaces meshed well with goals that Kate has.  It is especially the “Content Creation Labs” that have a close affinity to the work being done with Entrepreneurship and that is why we believe it is a good fit for the programs the library staff hope to provide in new spaces.  The entire first five items listed in our vision will be addressed in some manner in our project for the second level.  That alone is one reason why those of us in the library who had a shared vision for our spaces by 2020 are delighted to have this opportunity.

Our vision for Special Collections was written before Media Services moved into the lower level of the library, so that portion of the vision has changed.  However, we did envision more space for teaching and working with students with rare books and archival materials.  That is another aspect of the plans that I am thrilled to see will be realized by the end of the summer, connected to existing Rare Books and Archives spaces.  We’re already talking about the various programs we will be able to offer in that space in addition to working with classes in the fine arts, humanities, and social sciences.

The planning team for this project includes two student representatives, a faculty representative, and campus leadership.  The full planning team:

  • David Wheaton, VP Administration and Finance
  • Karine Moe, Provost
  • Kate Reiling, Entrepreneur in Residence
  • Angi Faiks, Associate Library Director
  • Jody Emmings, Entrepreneurship Coordinator
  • Terri Fishel, Library Director
  • Nathan Lief, Director of Facilities
  • Matthew Meyer, Associate Director of Facilities
  • Donna Lee, VP Student Affairs
  • Ted Wilder, Associate Director of ITS
  • Chris Wells (faculty rep)
  • Remy Eisendrath (student rep)
  • Sam Greenstein (student rep, library student employee)

There have been stories  in the MacWeekly, a number of listening sessions in the library, and three of the four sessions to discuss the future of the library, with one more session remaining.  In addition, we are holding a session during National Library Week to discuss the draft floor plans.

One aspect of working in academic libraries that I continue to enjoy is the opportunity to work with a younger population who are learning and often embracing new ideas.  As I shared with a colleague recently, the aspect of work that I enjoy most is contributing to the process of opening minds to new ideas and seeing possibilities rather than barriers.  Currently, I continue to respond to messages from individuals who are seeing more barriers than possibilities in our summer project.  However, I am very excited to see our long-held vision become reality during the summer and I want to share more details with the entire community.  As we stressed, and will continue to emphasize, books are at the heart of what we do and will always be so.  Books are never going away.  What is changing is the opportunity to provide spaces that enable creation in all forms, allowing our community members to create with their hands as well as their minds, contributing to new scholarship, new ideas, new solutions, new experiences, and new creations.  We are excited by the possibilities and I invite anyone who wants to know more to join David Wheaton, Angi Faiks, and me on Thursday, April 13th at noon in the Harmon Room.  We will share the current draft of the floor plan and will provide a general overview of the spaces and areas that are being developed.  It is my hope that more minds will be opened to the possibilities that we are creating and that more people will share our excitement about this fabulous opportunity.  I hope you will join us in conversation next week.  And lest I forget, food will be provided.  I look forward to seeing you there.

Attached is a draft of the remodel plan that we will be discussing next Thursday.  20170405_Macalester Library In Progress Plan_

Our Community as Creators

Last month I reported on the first discussion we had regarding planning the future of the library.  We’ve now had two conversations, including a great discussion about spaces in the library.  Last week, a new report came out that is particularly relevant to these discussions. The New Media Center Horizon Report 2017 Library Edition was released during the ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries)  2017 biennial meeting in Baltimore that ended Saturday, March 25th.  The Horizon Report provides a guide to what is on the horizon for the next five years for academic and research libraries, broken down into “six key trends, six significant challenges, and six developments in technology.”  One of the key trends is “Patrons as Creators” and is seen as a driving force for the next three to five years.  This is a trend our librarians have actively been involved in for some time as we have emphasized our role in helping our community members create content rather than just consume.  This has informed our work with open access, information literacy, our institutional repository that allows us to showcase works and journals produced by our students, and our more recent efforts to create more welcoming spaces in the library that would allow students to do more with their hands as well as with their minds.


The Horizon Report mentions a recent survey of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL)  “revealed that 64% of responding libraries in North America are engaged in providing, planning, or piloting makerspace services.” [p.14] The increase in makerspaces in academic libraries, mirrors the growth in public libraries as well.  This growth is partially a response to what is seen as a social movement, but it also integrates with the services all types of libraries offer.  For us, a makerspace meshes well with our academic programs that increasingly emphasize the interdisciplinary connections between various disciplines.   It also is timely in terms of the growing interest in the Digital Liberal Arts on our campus.  The Horizon Report helps articulate some of the concepts we have been focused on as we prepare for creating new spaces on the second level of the library.  We have been exploring makerspaces in the library for several years, but it was just this year in January that an opportunity presented itself to help us develop such spaces for innovation and creation.  As with many of the things we do, this is very much a collaborative effort.
This new initiative involves many different pieces, including space for innovation in teaching, more group work spaces, spaces for crafts as well as coding, and also an opportunity to collaborate with entrepreneurship on campus. We see this as an opportunity to help us expand services for students and also create new spaces to foster creativity and innovation.  At the same time, the book remains central to what we are as a library.  The Children’s collection and the Rare Books Room will remain on level 2, while the books currently on level 2 stacks will move upstairs one level, or downstairs to the lower level depending on size and content.  If you want to know more or participate in conversations, we have more sessions scheduled in the coming weeks.  You can read more about our plan and open discussions on our library web page as well as on our LibGuide Planning the Future of the Library.  You may contribute your thoughts on a feedback form, but I think most of our community members will benefit by coming and discussing in person how this new initiative will provide them with new spaces to become creators, not just consumers.

Community Conversations: Discussing the future of the library

We held our first noon-time conversation on Tuesday, January 31  and had a good wide-ranging conversation about many aspects of change in the library.  Beginning with a question based on visiting academic libraries with sons and daughters looking at colleges, what kind of changes are currently underway in libraries?  And another question was how do librarians talk about the changes when we are at conferences?  And the question was asked as to what do students experience when coming to college that is different from their high school library experience, if they used a high school library.  And another question was about how to explain that research cannot be reduced to a single search box, such as Google.  We were asked about Maker Spaces and talked about a movement of creating that is being featured in all types of libraries, public libraries and college and community college libraries.  We talked about changing collections, library instruction, the flexibility of our own building to adapt to change, digital projects, and more.  We all have different perspectives on the wide array of services we offer, so it was a lively conversation.

For those who couldn’t attend today’s session, but want to stay abreast of the conversations, here is a brief recap of some of the threads:

  • Current changes include an increasing transition to more digital content.  This doesn’t mean the elimination of print books, but rather transitioning from DVDs to streaming videos, from music CDs to streaming online music services, and from print journals to online journals.  Our journal transition started long ago as most journals are now digital and most of our backfile print journals on the lower level have been digitized. The transition to ebooks has been slower primarily due to publishers who want to control how we “own” or rent ebooks.  The exception has been reference books what have transitioned to more electronic versions replacing print. It does mean that our collection will continue to evolve over time.
  • Our growth of ebooks is slower than at other libraries because of restrictions publishers place on the “purchase” or rental of ebooks.  At the same time, we are looking at projects like Hathi Trust as a means to provide ongoing access to resources that are not in our own collection.
  • Another change is that although students believe they can find everything using Google, recent experiences with fake news as well as students locating resources that aren’t peer reviewed demonstrates the ongoing and increasing need for librarians and faculty to partner on introducing students to reliable, accurate, and scholarly discipline-focused resources.  
  • Research is complicated, complex, and with the diversity of locations where to find information, one librarian shared how social media is influencing where students find resources for their papers.
  • An area that is also growing are resources that are in open access journals and publications.  Connecting our scholars to the freely available material that is truly scholarly is an ongoing challenge.  The OA resources are growing, but the tools that connect readers to the OA materials have not evolved quickly enough.
  • Our collections are changing not only because of open access, but also because we cannot own everything.  Increasing reliance on interlibrary loan does not mean that our collection is poor, rather we are able to provide access in a timely manner to the world of resources.  Our interlibrary loan department is bustling because we can obtain resources, but interlibrary loan requests are changing as more requests for book chapters and articles is increasing and requests for complete books is decreasing.
  • One area that is increasing is our textbook reserve collection.  It is an indication of the challenge students are facing in paying for textbooks.
  • Maker spaces are part of the DIY movement.  Spaces for community members to come together and build or create things.  In libraries they often have 3D printers, craft supplies, sewing machines or tools and more.  
  • Space will be the focus of our next conversation, but we did discuss book storage and the need to think creatively about how to balance book storage with the need for more more study spaces.  We believe we are well-positioned for flexible spaces because of our flexible building design.

A student reporter for the MacWeekly was present for most of the discussion and you can read his report online here, “Library hosts conversations
Our next conversation will take place on Tuesday, February 28th at 11:30 in 309.  The topic is space, and a guide to background readings will be found here.

The Future of the DeWitt Wallace Library – planning for community discussions

Please note: This posting originally appeared as a LibGuide on Sept. 16, 2016.  We are now transitioning to a WordPress Site so both versions will appear temporarily.


In our Annual Report for 2015-16, in the Words from the Director section, I mentioned that we would be planning to host a series of conversations in the library to talk about the future of the library. It is our hope to engage our community members in conversations about our spaces, our collections, and our services.  I want to provide a brief context for these discussions.

During the summer, a group of us in the library read Reimaging the Academic Library by David W. Lewis.  The book addressed many issues related to how academic libraries are changing.  Topics included: how the book itself is changing, the impact of the economics of information, changes in the scholarly record, and how digitization is affecting scholarly publishing.  The book included a number of recommendations on what librarians could and should be doing to prepare for the future. These recommendations, coupled with selected readings,  provide a possible framework for  community conversations. What follows is some additional information on the proposed discussion topics.


In June of 2013, we shared a Vision for 2020 document envisioning the future of library spaces.  This document was written prior to the move of Media Services back into the library.   We have been able to make some incremental changes including the renovation of 309 to create the Barbara B. Davis SPACE which is already seeing high use during the weekdays.  This report in combination with the spring 2016  RPC report on spaces are documents I would encourage community members to read as preparation for conversations about our spaces.  The RPC report encouraged us to think about “redesigning library space” and discussed the need for the library to develop “creation spaces” which was also touched on in our Vision for 2020.  I’d like to hear the voices of all community members — students, faculty, staff, as well as our neighbors who use our spaces.

Continue reading “The Future of the DeWitt Wallace Library – planning for community discussions”

New Ithaka Report on Faculty Attitudes and Student Research

An article in the April 4, 2016 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education reported on the new Ithaka Report, a 2015 study on faculty attitudes regarding scholarship, publishing and student research skills.  This study has been done at regular intervals since 2000.  One of the highlights of the 2015 report is that the number of scholars who think libraries help students “develop research, critical analysis, and information literacy skills” is up 20 percentage points from 2012.”  20% is a pretty good leap in 3 years.

Inside Higher Ed reported:”Faculty members are showing increasing interest in supporting students and improving their learning outcomes, and say the library can play an important role in that work, a new study found.” [Emphasis added.] This is a major shift in faculty attitudes from previous years.  In the past, while a large percentage of library directors saw a role for the library in teaching critical thinking and information literacy, the faculty did not.  So, this is a shift in a very good direction.  I hope that if there were members of our faculty who responded to this survey, they were supportive of the instruction efforts of the liaison librarians. Continue reading “New Ithaka Report on Faculty Attitudes and Student Research”