Standard 5.A.1 - Library Holdings, Equipment and Personnel
The MSU Billings Library is a studentcentered and service-oriented unit of the University, with primary focus on the support of student learning. As exemplified in the 2006 LibQUAL Survey, library users are generally very satisfied with the level of services, resources and computer access in the libraries. That level of satisfaction is borne out in the SSI/NSSE/CCSSEE results as well. As with other areas of the University, the Library uses that data to assess service delivery and make appropriate adjustments to become an even better learning-centered community.
The Library’s core collection comprises about 339,000 volumes, 1,700 serial titles and numerous digital resources, which are well focused on the curriculum of the six colleges of the University. The Library also has archives and special collections that are historical in nature that are accessible for all students, faculty and the general public.
Library acquisitions account for $245,868 for FY 2006-2007 and $266,027 for FY 2005-2006. Much of this is to purchase print periodicals and new book titles as they are published. Budget cuts during the 2006-2007 year reduced the level of acquisitions.
In FY 2005-2006, $204,350 was spent for digital resources — full-text databases, electronic indexes, digital subscriptions and web-based reference resources. The LibQUAL survey showed that library users overwhelmingly prefer broad access to electronic article sources, and the Library is currently moving towards replacing many print subscriptions with digital packages of appropriate journals, generally clustered by publisher.
The Library’s collection development policy outlines the principles observed for both the central and COT library collections. Library collection acquisitions are funded with a combination of University-allocated (state) funds, library fees and interest from the Library’s endowment with the MSU Billings Foundation.
As the Library staff analyze the results of the LibQUAL survey, examine the comments from the survey, and follow up with student focus groups, it is apparent that today’s library users want to access new book titles and browse some current journals in print, but mostly want access to specific articles electronically. The ability to search remotely, link to all the full text available through the Library and do this from any location, at any time, is the most valued. The use of print reference books, encyclopedias, and print periodicals has gone down in this library as in most other academic libraries. The Library is starting a major shift towards a much greater array of current periodical titles available electronically, to supplement the aggregator databases, JSTOR and other resources already in place.
During 2007 and 2008, the reference collection of the Library was intentionally reduced. Many titles, such as literary bibliographies, have been moved to the circulating collection for easier access and greater usability. Others are being superseded by digital reference sources. The remaining reference collection is more up to date, focused and appropriate for the students doing basic library research in classes such as the history of art.
The MSU Billings Library is a selective federal depository at about the 63% level, so many government documents are available in all formats (electronic, print and microform). Since 1998, almost all documents, federal and state, are included in the online catalog as they are received. This has made finding such documents much more straightforward for students and has increased their use considerably.
The Library Committee, appointed by the Academic Senate, acts in an advisory capacity, as the Library staff decide on changes in the collections, on interpretation of survey results, and on decisions that affect the resources of the Library. Faculty members on the committee give valuable, if anecdotal, feedback on the Library’s collections and services. Similarly, individual feedback from students, whether one-on-one in the Library, through e-mail and phone communications, or in classroom conversations, is used to gauge student preferences.
- 5.11 www.msubillings.edu/library/;
- 5.5 Fall 2006 NCES and ACRL surveys; LibQUAL Survey;
- 7.13 Library Budget
In general, the LibQUAL survey in fall 2006 indicated that faculty and students were satisfied that equipment meets users’ needs. The Information Commons computers are purchased with Student Computer Fee funds and are replaced approximately every four years. Software is networked and generally easily accessible by students and faculty. Printing is free to students in the Library and Information Commons, as well as the computer labs in other buildings, and is also underwritten by student fees. Public access computers in the Library are older models from other locations in the University, but are quite adequate for Internet access, library research and catalog searches.
Wireless enabled laptop computers are available in the Library for students to check out — they are replaced on a rotating basis and purchased with Student Computer Fee funds. More specialized equipment, such as the digital microform readers, scanner and color printer, are purchased by the Library, although student equipment fee funds are occasionally available for such purchases. Library staff members receive desktop equipment as do other faculty and staff, with three- to four-year replacement cycles.
The Library has an extraordinarily dedicated staff—while their numbers are small, this staff covers extensive hours, two locations and a wide array of information demands with a cheerful and effective approach and excellent customer service. In spring 2006, the Library received some of the highest ratings for service on the Student Satisfaction Inventory. The question “Library staff are helpful and approachable” received the highest satisfaction level, the lowest gap between satisfaction and importance for the main campus, and the third highest score for the COT campus. The question “Library resources and services are adequate” ranked fourth in satisfaction on the main campus and ninth on the COT campus. Both scores were considerably higher than the norms for comparable institutions.
Five professional librarians, including the director, six paraprofessional staff and two clerical support staff, plus student assistants (mostly work-study students) make up the workforce of the Library. Librarians have 12-month Montana University System contracts as professional employees, rather than faculty contracts. While there are pros and cons to this, and the change from having librarians as faculty on 10-month contracts, which occurred during the last five to 10 years, was not altogether welcome, the current situation works well for the Library. All of the librarians are well qualified, stay current with considerable professional development, and are very service oriented. They work well in small teams on many projects, such as the recent redesign of the Library’s web sites.
The Library service desks were combined to provide seamless service, and the Reference function is carried out by librarians and paraprofessionals, while circulation functions are generally staffed by student workers, with paraprofessional supervision. The Information Commons is staffed by a work-study student supervised by IT staff.
- 1.7 Spring 2006 Noel-Levitz Survey;
- 5.5 LibQUAL Survey
Information Technology & Academic Computing
The Office of Information Technology provides total service, support, purchasing, and replacement for all state-funded computing equipment and software. Grants and non-state funded entities provide funding for their equipment while IT provides their support and maintenance. Student computer labs, classroom equipment and faculty computing needs, as well as the Library computers, are all supported centrally by the Office of Information Technology, headed by the Chief Information Officer (CIO). All technology design and purchases are coordinated with the CIO.
Learning Management System
MSU Billings has contracted the online learning management system (LMS) to eCollege in Denver, Colorado. AY 2006-2007 and AY 2007-2008, they provided a full-service implementation of all online courses. An MSU four-institution Request for Proposal was completed during Spring/Summer 2008 with Desire2Learn receiving the award for a new LMS.
MSU Billings Information Technology provides technical support to interface student data with the online system. Electronic assessment and data storage is begin migrated from eCollege to Desire2Learn and will be complete well before January 2009. Pedagogical support will be available through mentors coordinated by the eLearning Hub, and technical support will continue through IT.
Student-use computers are funded by a Student Computer Fee, levied for each campus of the Montana University System and guided by an academic IT Committee; the committee must be comprised of 50% students and 50% faculty with administrative staff serving in an ex-officio role. IT has two staff devoted to supporting academic computing and managing up to 30 student employees each term.
The remainder of the IT staff serves in a support role to academic computing, such as network and server support, desktop support for faculty, and programming support for assessment activities. Student computers are replaced every four years. All software is purchased centrally with concurrent licensing used for as many software packages as possible. All software is installed on all student computers to enable access from any lab or computer classroom across all campuses. We have site licenses for many software packages--Microsoft, Adobe, AutoCAD, SPSS, ESRI, Oracle and Mathematica, along with other specialized software. These are updated to the latest version each summer.
Evidence: 8.3 IT Computer Fee Equipment Replacement Plan
Networks and Administrative Computing
The campus networking infrastructure is a one gigabit backbone with redundant Cisco core routers and switches. All campus network ports are 10/100 megabit connections. The core network room has a backup power supply generator in the case of power failure. The network infrastructure consists of two sets of redundant Cisco core switches, Access Control, Intrusion Detection device, server switches, firewalls, Packet Shaper, and other miscellaneous networking devices. Most common student study areas have been provisioned with wireless access. Authentication is required of all State of Montana networks; student must register their computers with IT before accessing the wireless access points.
The Montana University System is currently involved with a next generation network project called the Northern Tier Network. This would provide a high speed network between Seattle and Minneapolis; this would provide the MSU Billings faculty opportunities for high speed research and teaching connectivity.
The campus computing infrastructure consists of approximately 35 servers, which provide for faculty/staff and student e-mail, web, file sharing, library functions, working portals, and a storage area network on the main campus and the College of Technology. These servers are used to support the administrative functions of the University as well as student computing, student storage, and student programming activities. All systems have a common backup plan with incremental, weekly, and monthly backup cycles. Tapes from the East campus are stored on the West campus while those from the West campus are stored on the East campus.
Each full-time faculty and staff member is assigned a new computer every four years, approximately 1,200 computers on the three campuses. Campus servers and faculty/staff computers are funded through the Technology Replacement Fee. Parttime faculty and staff are provided with the newest recycled computers possible. IT provides all software to all faculty/staff computers and all campus student computers.
Administrative Information System (AIS)
The four units of the Montana State University (MSU) system use a common administrative information system (AIS). The SCT Sunguard Banner system runs in Bozeman. There are four functional areas: Student, Finance, Financial Aid, and Human Resources. Each office responsible for these functions is a member of an operating team which keeps the system up to date and implements all changes and modifications to stay current with changing rules and regulations. The CIO at MSU Billings is a member of several oversight committees that govern the operation of the system. All four units of MSU use a common portal, Luminis. There is an operational team which contains members from all four campuses as well as an oversight committee which includes the MSU Billings Chief Information Officer. The 4 campuses run under a common Disaster Recovery Plan for this system.
Telephone systems are managed by IT, and a new system has been installed moving from traditional analog to digital service/VoIP. This system supports telephony, voice, video, and unified messaging. We now have the capability to provide video on the desktop through our telephony communications. We also have an emergency communications system over the VoIP, Berbee which acts as an intercom system to all offices on all 3 campuses.
Media and Audiovisual
The audiovisual needs of the campus have become so much a part of classroom computing that the audiovisual function was moved from the Library to IT in 2004. IT has an audiovisual specialist on staff who provides support for design, implementation, and maintenance of classroom projectors, Elmo’s, and other equipment. They are also responsible for training and providing support for special events requiring high level AV and IT services, such as conferences, live-feed interactive cross-state legislative meetings, congressional hearings, etc.
The Interactive TV (ITV) systems are used in a few distance education courses; the management of the ITV system is managed by a technology specialist through the College of Professional Studies and Lifelong Learning and is located at the downtown campus. A small but well equipped television recording studio is available at MSU Billings Downtown.
East Campus — Colleges of Allied Health Professions, Arts and Sciences, Business
Core collections of library resources — books, journals and electronic resources — are considered adequate for undergraduate programs in these colleges. In the LibQUAL survey, the level of satisfaction with resources was lower for graduate students and faculty. Perhaps predictably, the largest gap between the desired and perceived levels of satisfaction for both user groups occurred with the question addressing “print and/or electronic journal collections I require for my work.” Survey comments made it clear that electronic print collections were much preferred. This is a change that we have seen over the past five to 10 years, as faculty have become much more comfortable with ejournals, with electronic delivery of articles and with the instant access from their desk or from home.
The concept of a core collection is not one that is emphasized at MSU Billings. The nature of the collection is that of a working collection supporting the predominantly undergraduate programs, with no pretensions to being a research library. Neither funding levels nor staffing levels would allow us to fulfill the role of research library. However, faculty and graduate students in particular are pleased with the Library’s role in supporting their research. Reference librarians give extensive one-on-one research assistance, and our Interlibrary Loan service is fast, effective and very well regarded.
While there is no formal system of library liaisons with each college or department, the librarians and library director work individually with faculty in each college to ensure that appropriate information resources are available to support the curriculum in each program. Over the past two years, either the director or associate director has served on the Academic Foundations Committee, mostly to advance the acceptance of information literacy on campus, but also to make sure that the needs of the general education programs are met by the Library.
Evidence: 5.5 LibQUAL Survey
West Campus — College of Technology
The collection at the branch College of Technology Library is small because of space limitations. However, it has moved from the very practical focused resources of the older vocational-technical curriculum to the broader needs of the current West Campus programs. New materials have been added to support new programs, in consultation with the instructors and program directors. In the future, as the College of Technology takes on the role of a community college, and as more space becomes available, the collection must include more general undergraduate resource books and journals.
Meanwhile, all the electronic resources of the Library are available to, and used by, West Campus faculty, staff and students on the West Campus and remotely. Some databases specific to West Campus programs, such as the automotive databases, ALLDATA and the Auto Repair Reference Center, are available to the entire University community. The College of Technology has been successful in bringing one-time state, private and grant funding to support its programs, and library funding is often included, especially for new start-up programs such as the construction technology programs.
A wide array of health-related library resources has been developed, to support the Health Pathways programs, from beginning nursing courses to the graduate programs in the College of Allied Health Professions. Digital resource materials are available to all students and faculty, regardless of location, and print or media resources are moved between East and West campus locations as needed, on a daily basis.
Downtown Campus — College of Professional Studies and Lifelong Learning
Online programs and courses allow electronic access for online students. While many online students live locally and can access the East or West Campus, the Library supplies books, articles, media and other resources direct to the homes of online students, upon request.
Students and community members taking outreach courses are able to access the library resources as part of their courses — they and the community at large are given free access to electronic resource materials at all times when they are physically in the Library. The MSU Billings Library is open to the public and is used by a wide array of community members. Internet access and access to digital resources is available to community members using either of the University library locations.
One area of cooperation between the Library and the efforts of the CPSLL has been in the outreach as a cooperating collection of the Foundation Center in New York. Whenever grant-related workshops are offered, or community events that involve grants and foundation matters, the Library participates in whatever capacity is needed — presentations, demonstrations of the Foundation Center database, instruction and advising. The Library also works with the Office of Grants and Sponsored Programs. For over 30 years, the MSU Billings Library has produced a compilation of foundations located and doing business in Montana. The Directory of Montana Foundations is now published every two years and distributed statewide.
The MSU Billings Library services have grown from essentially site-based services at one location to a more diversified array of services to serve multiple University campus locations (East, West and Downtown) and the considerable number of students taking online courses.
The main avenue to these resources and services is through the Library’s web site. Along with the rapidly growing commitment to electronic journals, full-text databases and digital reference materials, the Library offers a number of services in different modes:
- Reference — email, telephone, live chat, in person.
- Library instruction—in the Library classrooms, in wired classrooms on any of the three campuses, online tutorials, or custom tailored sessions through the University’s eLearning platform.
- Interlibrary loan — fast and efficient, books and media are delivered to faculty offices, mailed or shipped to instructors or students in remote locations. Electronic resources are sent very fast through the recipient’s preferred email.
- The OMNI MSU shared catalog group gives priority treatment to each of the other eight academic libraries in the group—students use their own library cards in the other libraries.
- The shared MSU proxy • server ensures access to electronic resources for the University community from any location with Internet access.
IT resources are geared to enable faculty, staff and students to have excellent access to information and computing resources. Email services can be accessed through the web. SharePoint portal sites allow shared workspaces for many administrative and faculty projects, including search committees, task forces and committees — these are secure, but accessible from off campus.
Evidence: 5.11 www.msubillings.edu/library/