Staley Library has for many years been in the forefront in the use of library-related computer technology. Dr. Charles Hale (my predecessor as library director, for those newer than I to Millikin) provides the following history.
The library started using the nationally networked cataloging database OCLC in the early 1970's, while the library was still in Gorin and Dr. Boatman was director. Given that the OCLC network did not go beyond its Ohio beginnings much before that time, that is early indeed. (And yes, it WAS a national network, via dedicated telephone lines.)
Staley Library staff started working with the Illinois state-wide online catalog (LCS) in 1978, and in 1980 made about half a dozen terminals available for the public, that is, to Millikin University students, faculty and staff. These terminals sat against the wall where we still have work stations. In conjunction with that, a person was hired full-time for one year to accomplish retrospective cataloging, so that the library's collection was all online pretty much from the beginning. (The card catalog was concurrently kept up to date until the early 1990's.) Millikin was the third Illinois library, and the first academic, to go public with LCS.
I note that we continue to be early adopters whenever we can afford to. For instance, not very many of the 44 academic libraries using our previous online catalog adopted the acquisitions and serials modules of that system, but as you recall from my newsletters, we did! This experience helped us when we converted to the new system last summer (2002).
Wireless laptop use
In my report to the State of Illinois about our grant for the in-library wireless laptops, I could honestly say that "Statistics from the two months [to mid-November] that the wireless laptops have been available have confirmed almost all of our assumptions relative to the value of having them."
Most of the use has been for solitary students (232, or 87%) doing word processing (70%), though most users did more than one thing: 55% accessed the Internet (we notice a lot of sports and shopping sites visited, among other things) and 46% have done email. Less prevalent has been group work, a disappointment since it was something we were looking to promote with the laptops.
I could also sincerely say the following in my report, "Comments received along with the [anonymous] statistics have been overwhelmingly ones of enthusiasm and gratitude for the availability of the laptops, along with scattered concern about the relatively slower network access that is to be expected with wireless technology but which is contrary to students' experience with the campus network."
Use only keeps growing, and many evenings students have all five laptops checked out, with other students waiting for their turn. Definitely a successful addition to our arsenal of tools for our students!
An article in Library Journal (Feb. 1, 2002) entitled "How to think about technology" suggests, among other things, that libraries send email courtesy notices to our users before the due date of materials they have borrowed. We have, in fact, been doing that since the beginning of this academic year. We do not as yet know what effect, if any, this has had on encouraging people to return things on time, but one student emailed us to say "I think these notices are wonderful! Thank you sooo much."
The lighter side
Vote for Barbie the Librarian!
(scroll to the bottom of the linked page)
As part of their I Can Be Career Series ("created to encourage young girls to explore a wide variety of career possibilities"), Mattel is asking us on the official Barbie website to choose Barbie's next career - and the choice is between architect, policewoman, and librarian. Librarian is winning big-time! (Well, it was until it suddenly went overwhelmingly architect... KB note Dec. 10, 2002.) Now the only question is: what might Barbie look like as a librarian? Something like the above no doubt, because everyone knows how hot librarians are.
Earlier issues of this newsletter can be found here.
Cookie party: library exhibit
While you are in the library stop and look at the latest display from the University Archives - COOKIES! COOKIES! C0OKIES! Celebrating Sixty-Nine Years of Millikin's Cookie Party. Items in the exhibit come from the Archive's Photograph Collection and Millikin Dames' Collection. In addition to the photographs and related documents you will find answers to questions including: Who baked the most cookies for the party in one given year? How was enough sugar acquired for baking during war rationing? and What did John Askill's pet pig have to do with the cookie party?
An online version of this exhibit will be available soon, and will be linked along with past exhibits from the University Archives Exhibits web page. (Susan Avery creates the Archives pages.)
Senior capstone project
A group of students have chosen for their senior capstone project to improve the looks of the outdoor space below the front entrance of the library building, with the hope that this area might be used more often by the Millikin community. They have power cleaned the walls, weeded the flower beds, fixed some of the lights, and painted the stair railing. They have also brought in literally two tons of gravel in many wheelbarrows, and have spread it under the stairs to create a meditative feeling in that corner of the space.
In the past, this space has hosted occasional combined library and Media Services picnics. Also, singing groups sometimes use the space for their practices, a nice treat for the library staff working in the offices just above that area (such as my own office). From this same vantage point I enjoy the flowering of the apple trees in the spring, the flaming of fall foliage, and, two winters ago, the flock of cedar waxwings feasting on the tiny apples. This truly is a jewel of a space, and it would be delightful indeed if more people came to enjoy it as we do!
New books and other library materials
As I noted last month, until such a list is automatically generated in the online catalog we will continue to provide online monthly lists of the books and other traditional format library materials most recently cataloged for the library collection. The November list is now available! We do not yet have word on when these lists will be automatically generated.
(OK, these views from my office window are from last year, but we want this kind of weather again for our happy holidays do we not?)