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Library Services and User Education

User education has grown tremendously over the years to become a major aspect of library activity. Particularly since the introduction of a required information-seeking component for Part A of the General Education communications requirement, the demands on library staff have greatly accelerated. This year about 4,000 students (75 percent of the freshman class) took an information-seeking instructional unit as part of the Course A requirement, where they received a general orientation to the library system, learned how to use the MADCAT system, and developed skills for searching journal databases. These 140 sessions were taught by 30 librarians devoting an average of 5.3 hours per week to instruction. The introduction of CLUE, a multi-media instructional package that Course A students are required to complete as part of this instruction, has been a major positive addition to the instructional process this year. While in general a high level of satisfaction with the quality of instruction is evident, some difficulty has been noted in the availability of physical facilities for conducting instruction.
In the area of inter-library loan, Wisconsin continues its efforts to provide greater access to the collections of all CIC institutions. As part of a multi-year project, the CIC institutions are moving toward eventual automation of inter-library loan through a CIC Virtual Electronic Library. This is expected to reduce the time necessary for the communication of inter-library loan requests, although significant delays can remain in the processing of these requests by institutions. In an effort to set an example for other institutions to emulate, this year Wisconsin adopted a ACommitment to Access,@ a set of principles that, we hope, will serve as a benchmark for inter-library services. These include: processing and shipping of requested items available in library collections within 48 hours of receipt of the request; providing accurate status reporting for all requested items within 72 hours; using the fastest cost-effective method of delivery, including electronic transmission; and sending items directly to the user by mutual agreement with the borrowing institution.
The initial implementation of changes introduced last year in faculty borrowing privileges (elimination of automatic renewal and limitation to a single renewal of items) was reviewed this spring by ULC subcommittees. The 1995 user survey showed that faculty believed the availability of books and journals on the shelf when they are needed was second in importance only to completeness of collections. Given that material permanently checked out of the library is material that is not immediately available to the researcher, that 30 percent of items recalled from faculty are not returned on time, and that a large proportion of items lost from the library have been items permanently checked out to faculty, ULC believes that there was a strong rationale for introducing the changes in faculty library privileges. At the same time, the committee recognizes that these issues need to be balanced with the needs of faculty for continued access to materials with the least degree of obstacle. It was suggested that the library seek ways to allow faculty continued access to materials not requested by other users at the same time as ensuring the physical presence of materials checked out to faculty. A more in-depth review of the policy is due next year.
ULC subcommittees also were involved in discussions with student representatives concerning library hours. Associated Students of Madison (ASM) has been conducting a campaign for a 24-hour library on campus. It was unclear whether students desired access to library collections, to computer facilities, or to study space, what use such a facility would have, which facilities would be most heavily used, and where the funds for staffing the facility would come from. ASM conducted a survey of students on this issue jointly with the libraries at the recommendation of ULC, which also made suggestions into the questions posed, so as to gauge better the nature of student desires on these issues. A formal recommendation from ASM has not been received yet by ULC. However, ULC has recommended that the present number of hours of libraries on the campus be at least maintained, and in addition that Steenbock Library remain open until 10 PM on Friday and Saturday evenings so that students in the west-side dormitories have better access to library facilities. This alone will cost an additional $8,000 per year from the operational budget.


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Last modified July 7, 1998

University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries
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Comments or questions to: Deborah Reilly , Coordinator