Standard 5.B.1 - Information Resources and Services
The 2006 LibQUAL survey indicates that undergraduate students consider library equipment and materials adequate for their needs. Graduate students’ perceptions of the adequacy of the collection are mixed. Generally they find it adequate, but they express a considerable level of dissatisfaction with the journal collection, both print and electronic.
Library materials are selected largely by librarians, with additional specific requests coming from individual faculty and departments. For new book titles, an approval plan through YBP (formerly Yankee Book Peddler) has been in place since 1994. A profile of subject areas and academic level for each subject is used to match newly published academic titles – the Library is notified of matching publications and orders from those selected. 3,114 new books were acquired through the approval plan in FY 2006-2007, with 155 of those selected for the COT Library. Ideally, library users looking for newly published books will find that they are already in the collection — as Dr. Brian Dillon, Professor of English, did in May 2007.
Books in less academic disciplines, such as the automotive trades programs, welding and fire sciences, are generally ordered individually after consultation with the instructors. Maintaining currency in the COT programs is particularly important, and librarians are working with instructors in each department to weed the COT collection and add the most up-to-date and relevant materials.
The collection development policy outlines the overall principles for acquisition of library materials. All formats and types of information resources are governed by the policy. Collections in the MSU Billings Library are arranged according to standard classification schemes, the Library of Congress classification in most areas, and SuDoc for federal government documents. Journals are shelved alphabetically by title.
The LibQUAL survey also indicated that students had some difficulty finding materials. From questions asked at service desks and of staff throughout the Library, we conclude that locating items in the physical collection is generally not difficult — the Library is small enough, with most of the book and journal collections located on two of the three floors, for the system to be quickly learned.
However, finding electronic library resource materials quickly and easily is not intuitive. Following the LibQUAL survey, the librarians formed a web team and redesigned the Library’s web pages to make access to digital resources easier for students to navigate. Use of the Serials Solutions, Inc. Full-Text Finder and Article Linker makes access to full-text articles fairly straightforward once the library user is sure of the search parameters, but the process is still not as simple as many students would like. The Library invites comments from students, and, with certain exceptions, most seem to find the new interfaces easier to navigate.
As of Summer 2008, the Serials Solutions, Inc. product 360 Search is being implemented and launched as the federated search tool Power Search, allowing Library users to search multiple resources simultaneously from a single, easy-to-use interface.
Instructional technology needs are closely monitored by the Office of Information Technology and the Academic IT Committee. Faculty and students represent the various colleges and programs and guide the decisions about expenditures of the Student Computer Fee moneys. The master plan for student computing includes an Academic Computing Cost Planning Document and designates replacement schedules, new computer lab provisions, and maintenance principles. Academic computing is well supported at MSU Billings — the ratio of computers to student FTE is 0.62, with 0.33 computers per student by headcount.
In some buildings, such as McDonald Hall, housing the College of Business, computer classrooms are available for student use when classes are not using the rooms. A new Management Information Systems lab at the College of Business, developed and equipped with grants and community matching funds, also supports student-learning endeavors the latest technology. A multimedia lab is also available in the College of Education for weekday daytime hours. The Information Commons in the Library is open 85.5 hours per week during the semester.
Evidence: 4.7 and 6.10 Committee Minutes and Committee Members
Library instruction is a core service of the MSU Billings Library. For many years, librarians have worked closely with selected instructors and departments to offer library instruction sessions as part of a number of courses. For example, the general education English composition classes, which usually have multiple sections and instructors, have included up to three library instruction sessions per semester. The effectiveness of this library instruction appears to be somewhat limited for the lower-level classes — seminar-type sessions with upper division or graduate classes with time for individual questions are preferable, but not usual.
To effectively promote the concept of information literacy throughout MSU Billings, the Library spent three years working with the Academic Foundations Committee and various academic departments and curriculum committees to initiate a new for-credit class. In 2006, a new three-credit course, Library Science (LS) 125, “Research in the Information Age,” was finally approved as part of the newly accepted Academic Foundations offerings, which replaced the general education requirements in fall, 2007.
LS 125 is taught by the MSU Billings librarians, both on site and online, and a pilot class was offered online during summer, 2007. Since then, three or four sections have been offered each semester. In time, with enough students taking this class, or one of the other two classes under the “Information Literacy and Oral Communication” category of Academic Foundations, the need for traditional library instruction sessions will either change or cease.
The IT department has focused more on providing well-equipped labs and classrooms, and on offering individual training for classroom instructors, along with training opportunities for software, than on teaching efforts. However, they participate closely with training and advising for online teaching and other areas. In 2007, an eLearning specialist was hired, to report to the Provost and Academic Vice Chancellor. This new position — Director of MSU Billings eLearning Hub — works with IT, Student Services, and the University eLearning platform provider to enhance the quality of eLearning at the University.
Evidence: 5.12 LS 125 Course Syllabus
Both the Library and IT keep their policies available through their web pages on the MSU Billings web site. They are reviewed and updated regularly. Many computer-use policies are mandated by the State of Montana or by the Montana University System, and are enforced locally.
The official University web site is created and maintained by the University Relations department, while individual departments and units such as the Library are responsible for their web presence.
- 6.1 BOR Website (http://mus.edu/board/BORinfo.asp);
- 6.4 BOR Policies and Procedures Manual (§1300)
MSU Billings faculty members and students actively participate on the Academic Senate’s Library Committee. Faculty, students and staff are represented on the Academic IT Committee. Students are usually nominated for these committees by the president of the Associated Students of MSU Billings. In addition, both the Library and IT work closely with faculty, staff and students from all areas of the University on other committees, task forces and project teams, as appropriate.
Individual librarians, library staff and the Library Director are encouraged to participate in academic governance, from membership on the Staff Senate to service on committees such as the Safety Committee, the Wellness Committee, and the eLearning Task Force.
Through computing and telecommunications services, MSU Billings extends access to information, data and ideas from sources available regionally, nationally and globally. All faculty, students and staff have access to computers that have high speed access to the Internet. The University networking infrastructure is a one gigabit backbone with redundant Cisco core routers and switches. All University 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 wireless access. The network and infrastructure are extremely reliable, and there is very little down time. The occasional interruption of service is generally due to extreme weather conditions or accidental loss of connectivity off campus. In 2005, bandwidth available for campus use was increased substantially, and it is now meeting the needs of the University.
The Library chooses to have almost all of its electronic resources available through the web, with IP authentication in most cases. Vendor restrictions mean that a very few databases are restricted to on-campus access only — i.e., no remote access through the proxy server. These databases include the Foundation Center databases and ALLDATA. A handful of databases are available only on a pay-persearch basis — library users simply request the password, and the Library covers the cost of these searches.
In addition to the library-based databases which typically lead to scholarly articles, reference data, or finding tools such as the library catalog, the Library provides links to many other web-based resources. The Library participates in Google Scholar, has virtually all of its holdings in OCLC’s Worldcat, and is part of numerous networks locally, statewide, regionally and nationally. Interlibrary loan uses the OCLC Illiad software to make the requesting and receiving of materials from libraries worldwide a straightforward and timely service. Most articles are delivered electronically using Odyssey or Ariel software — sometimes in a matter of minutes, often in a matter of hours after the request is received.
For the Library, interlibrary loan has become a robust backup to electronic full-text access to scholarly articles. Books, archival and historical microfilms, dissertations and media are all “returnable” items borrowed from other libraries. Articles from specialized, expensive or hard-to-find journals are obtained through the worldwide OCLC network of libraries. For many years, MSU Billings was a “net lender” of library materials — sending more items to other libraries than we received. In Montana, this is still the case, as most libraries in the state are relatively small and resource-poor. In FY 2006-2007, MSU Billings became a “net borrower” — receiving more items for MSU Billings library users than were lent to others. The proliferation of full-text databases has both increased local access, but also raised expectations that almost any article is able to be found and retrieved.
Evidence: 5.11 Library website (www.msubillings.edu/library/)