at The Evergreen State College

ECD Redesign Ideas

From booktorrent

Revision as of 00:00, 7 December 2011 by Jenjef17 (Talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Current revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

The Evergreen State College, as with any university library, must accept the intrinsic changes in how students and professors access and disseminate information. Technology has changed our relationship to information, but the present doesn't (yet) resemble a Philip K. Dick dystopia of over-reaching technological influence. The key in collection development is to inexpensively make use of internet connectivity and new methods of acquisition to

a) increase access to students and aid in their understanding of search terms

b) enable students to actively participate in the research process and assemble effective peer-reviewed sources

c) foster an environment at Evergreen of intellectual depth and legitimacy through the library

The major question then, is how do we go about doing so? During the course of my research this quarter, I have had an idealized image of the library, not unlike Alberto Manguel's Library of Alexandria in his book The Library at Night. I imagine futuristic computer pods where patrons plug in and consume information freely, remembering all, the Holy Grail of databases. Every Greener with perfect access to any bit of research material they might need. Of course, no such library exists yet. But we are getting closer.


Major Redesigns

I did not have time this quarter to research ideal library layouts and blueprints, and I could not take a two-credit course in architecture, so I'm not able to say with certainty what fundamental physical changes ought to occur at Evergreen's library. The main issues at hand with Collection Development involve budget allocation, student usage, and information access.

1. Just in time, rather than just in case. Change towards patron-driven acquisition.

2. Evaluate student use, rigorously. Demand surveys from library patrons. Money is being wasted on databases and resources that only a handful of students use.

3. Keep the library up-to-date with appropriate acquisitions.

These are not the vague or idealistic goals they might appear to be at first glance. Patron-driven acquisition will mean gutting parts of the budget spent on massive databases that go unused throughout the year. These databases might have looked appealing to universities like Evergreen a decade ago, but the truth is that students still do not have proper digital vocabularies to navigate them and the financial toll on an already stringent budget does not make sense.

The library must evaluate usage statistics for all major databases and determine which ones can be eliminated. Consultation with Evergreen faculty is vital as they work in specific disciplines and can supply information regarding how their classes use the library. Dialogue between different departments is vital. A panel within the library and perhaps within the Collection Development Dept. should survey students and faculty.

eReaders and eBook Lending

My proposal regarding lending eBooks or eReaders is outlined more specifically in its proper section. The technology for eReaders has not, in my own opinion, caught up with its potential enough to warrant throwing money towards any initiative to lend them in a substantial quantity. A survey of students will be necessary before any plans to roll out eBook or eReader lending can take place at a large level. The print book is not about to be rendered obsolete by the library in the way that periodicals and scholarly journals have.

Minor Redesigns

These are some of my more cosmetic suggestions for the library, though they still fit the criteria I outlined towards the top of the page.

A library Staff Picks section across from the Circulation Desk. Books are an intimidating, vast medium and for the hapless Greener, a list of personally selected titles (fiction and/or non-fiction) would give the area a bit more hospitality. DVDs and VHS could also be included.

Less academic, more popular titles in the shelves marked New Arrivals. It would be great to see literary or genre fiction titles

These cosmetic changes would remind students that the library is not a stifling, work-related environment, but also a cultural center and a place to get absorbed in obsessions and intellectual pursuits unrelated to class. It is my belief that the more comfortable students feel in the library, the more they enjoy it, acquisitions and Collection Development will feel more relevant to students' needs. That's not to say that academic, disciplined materials aren't the center of the library, but simply that the library might be explored more if students don't see it as a stodgy, somber place on campus. That doesn't entail loud stereos blasting hip-hop or punk rock, or soda machines and cats and pizza everywhere as we discussed in seminar one week, but rather, a change in perspective:

The library collection should reflect what students need to read and what they want to read.

Closing Remarks

In conclusion, the concepts of PDA and the cultivation of a comprehensive and relevant collection are two bold objectives. It will take a well-defined policy and clear roles within the school to identify and maintain a cohesive plan, rather than a bunch of individuals acting out their separate agendas.
Next quarter I look forward to specifying potential role players and truly envisioning which databases and methods of information Evergreen will commit to into the future.