Library Services Highlights and Statistics, Summer 2012
This past summer the Library Services unit maintained a low hum of activity, at the same time closing out the activities of the Fall and Spring semesters, and gearing up for the upcoming academic year. A major focus of our efforts was preparation for rolling out a new version of Blackboard, the learning management system (LMS) for which the library provides training and support; towards the end of the summer we moved from Blackboard 8 to Blackboard 9.1, and Services put together an online tutorial covering library research essentials along with the basics of the new version of Blackboard (also known as Blackboard Learn).
Like other Gottesman units, Services staff were involved in researching College history in advance of the celebration of the College’s Sesquicentennial, and in recognition of this I’ve included portraits of librarians from the pre-Gottesman years when we were the Bryson Library and then the Teachers College Library (we were dedicated as the Milbank Memorial Library in 1982). Needless to say, the fundamental structure and role of the library have changed dramatically over the past century and a half, and even within the last 25+ years, during which several of us have witnessed the accelerated shift from card catalog to online catalog, print indexes to CD ROMs to Internet resources, and basic reference service delivery from in-person, telephone, and written correspondence models to email, online chat, and videoconferencing paradigms.
Here are some figures summarizing research and information services provided to our users during the 2012 Summer A and B terms:
- From mid-May through the end of August, Services responded to a total of 1,030 in-person and telephone reference queries.
- Library Services received and responded to 591 queries of various kinds submitted via the library’s Support Request (ticketing) system, an average of about 5.74 per day.
- Services librarians provided 36 research consultations to individuals or small groups over the course of the summer.
- Team members presented six course-specific library information sessions, either in the classroom or the library, for a total of 57 students.
Although the summer sessions are traditionally less hectic than the fall and spring terms, we in Services received a steady stream of research and information inquiries through the library support system and via in-person and phone interactions. The following is a sampling of users who contacted us and their queries:
- A faculty member requesting assistance uploading a video into her Blackboard course;
- A student seeking access to 19th century textbooks temporarily unretrievable (because of a summer shifting project) from our closed stacks (we were able to link her to digital versions of what she needed through the Internet Archive and HathiTrust online collections);
- A Columbia undergraduate requesting consultation on the topic of careerism and its effect on higher education;
- A faculty member requesting that the library purchase the Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education (we’ve made it available to the community as an e-book);
- A student requesting help searching the literature on the impact of caregiving burden, anxiety, and depression on substance use (and abuse) in distressed family caregivers of chronically ill patients;
- A researcher seeking information about an edition of Green’s Nursery Annual (1857) reportedly held exclusively by our library (we found no evidence that we had ever in fact owned it);
- A student requesting help reviewing the literature on the role of educational technology in language immersion for ESL students;
- A faculty member inquiring about access to resources that rank journals and their impact factors (the database Journal Citation Reports is in fact available through the Columbia Libraries);
- A student seeking help in finding articles in peer-review journals pertaining to best practices in English language learner (ELL) instruction and assessment, and the question of engaging immigrant parents in their children’s education;
- Students and faculty members with numerous queries concerning access to e-journals, e-reserves, online databases–virtually any digital resource.
As we approach the Autumn 2012 midterm date, Services staff are already well into a very active new academic year and have delivered a healthy number of research consultations, library information sessions, and responses to email support requests and in-person and phone reference queries. As always, our users bring us a broad variety of interesting and challenging questions, and there’s a great deal of satisfaction to be had from helping to fulfill their research and information needs.