Monday, April 19, 2010

University Libraries’ Instructional Services Program Reaches Across Ball State Campus with Research Strategies and Tools

During February 2010, the University Libraries’ Information Services librarians conducted 129 instructional sessions that reached 2,377 students. These sessions are presented in academic partnership with classroom faculty. Librarians discuss the faculty member’s instructional objectives and then prepare a presentation specifically tailored to the assignment.

Of these 129 sessions, 69 were provided for core composition classes, and 48 were presented to undergraduate and graduate classes in a variety of academic disciplines. The remaining sessions were presentations to visiting high school groups and workshops on topics like thesis research, EndNote application usage, career research, and advanced Google usage.

Librarians teach students how to access peer-reviewed articles through subscription databases that access thousands of journal and magazine subscriptions not available freely on the Web. They also explain how to explore topics using library resources, find background information, track down statistical data, evaluate what one finds on the Web, and effectively use the right research tool for the task at hand. Frequently, instructors will inform the librarians, at the conclusion of the presentation, that they, too, learned something new. The focus of this instruction is to expand the student’s knowledge well beyond Google.

Library instruction also consists of hands-on time. After the librarian’s presentation, students have the chance to work on the topics for their research assignments while the librarian remains available in the room to answer questions and help guide individualized research endeavors.

Monday, April 12, 2010

University Libraries Professional Personnel to be Recognized for Years of Service

Ball State University will host a formal luncheon on April 7, 2010, at the L. A. Pittenger Student Center to recognize and thank faculty and professional personnel for their years of service.

Several of the honorees are from the University Libraries. We happily recognize them for the professionalism, experience, and service they have provided to the Libraries and our academic community.

Rebecca S. Sheffeld, 35 years. Rebecca, “Becky,” first began working for Ball State as a student assistant in the “old library,” currently North Quad, while earning her Ball State degree in Elementary Education. Following graduation, she began full-time at the library in 1974, taking the position of Periodicals Receiving Clerk. Subsequently, Becky held a number of classified staff positions, including Technical Cataloging Assistant and Reference Services Supervisor, receiving a 1988 Meritorious Service Award in recognition of her expertise and strong customer service commitment. In 1992, Becky earned a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University – Bloomington and joined the professional ranks at the University Libraries as Library Instruction Librarian, then Assistant Acquisitions Librarian, and currently Head of Acquisitions Services, the position that she has held since 1999.

Brenda Yates Habich, 15 years. Brenda joined Ball State as an Assistant to the Directors of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in the English Department. After earning a Master’s Degree in Library Science, she joined University Libraries in 2003 as an Information Services Librarian. Brenda is frequently in demand for library instruction classes and research consultations because of her excellent teaching skills and friendly demeanor.

Kirk M. VanOoteghem, 15 years. Kirk is the University Libraries’ Lead Microcomputer/Systems/Network Analyst. He has been involved in the management, support, and configuration of public and staff workstations in the libraries since 1998. Kirk has also worked in the Educational Resources Collections and Support Services areas in the University Libraries. Kirk holds two degrees from Ball State University, is a member of Phi Kappa Phi (ΦΚΦ), and is a Certified Training Consultant. ◙

Monday, April 05, 2010

Study of University Libraries’ Computer Workstation Utilization Shows Location and Area Ambience as Key Factors

Throughout the University Libraries, the computer workstations are always busy. Wherever you look, no matter what floor you are on, students are working individually or cooperatively in small and large groups on their scholarly pursuits and class projects that include creating documents and presentations, performing literature searches, checking assignment updates on Blackboard, viewing streaming video, engaging in videoconferencing, or performing a host of other educative activities. Students can also be seen staying in contact with friends and family via e-mail or instant messenger utilities and even participating in educational simulations and gaming.

This prompted me to wonder, “During an average session on one of the Libraries’ workstations, how much time do our students spend?”

In order to determine the answer to this question, James W. Hammons, Head of Library Technologies, analyzed data collected automatically by the Libraries from our 368 computer workstations. He selected the 54-day period of Monday, January 11 through Friday, March 5, 2010. In all, he analyzed 143,557 computer sessions for this period using statistical software such as SPSS and Excel.

Jim’s objective was to determine the median time that students spent at a workstation in Bracken Library and at the two branch libraries, the Architecture Library and the Science-Health Science Library. Additionally, by analyzing data by any given area within the University Libraries, he wanted to determine if students spent different amounts of time depending upon the location of where they chose to study.

The median was selected as the average measure since outliers at the extremes of the data do not influence it. That is, a very large value or small value cannot overly influence the median unlike it can the mean. Jim’s findings proved to be informative.

Analysis of the Median Time Spent at Workstations by Area
The accompanying bar graph and table (page 3) depict the breakdown by floor or area within the University Libraries. Overall, the median time spent by students using any of the Libraries’ 368 computer workstations was 22.1 minutes.

• Bracken’s Quiet Zone fourth floor (41 workstations available) — Students spent the longest median time here, 50.7 minutes.
• Bracken’s third floor (71 workstations) — Students working in small groups tend to be attracted to this area. The median time spent was 47.6 minutes.
• Bracken’s first floor east side (39 workstations) — In this relatively quiet area, the median time spent was 40.7 minutes.
• Bracken’s first floor west (105 workstations) — Often referred to as the Reference Learning Center because of its proximity to the Reference Desk, this area is the most visible to Bracken’s visitors and hosts most of the public printers. The median time was 18.8 minutes.
• Science-Health Science Library (11 workstations) — Median session time was 20.1 minutes.
• Architecture Library (14 workstations) — Median session time was 11.8 minutes.

These data show that ambience influenced by location is a prime factor in how students select computer workstations for use in the University Libraries. When students are working on activities that require
in-depth study, extended research, writing, and intricate computational analyses, among other tasks, they choose Bracken’s fourth floor Quiet Zone or some other generally quiet areas like first floor east, with its refined, artful decor. If they are working collaboratively, the third-floor cluster of workstations is a popular choice due to its projection as a collective study space.

The branch libraries and Bracken’s Reference area have proven to be highly functional places. Students stop in before or between classes to make final adjustments to assignments, printing papers or class notes, checking Blackboard or e-mail, posting remarks to Facebook, scanning drawings for projects, or reviewing course reserves, to name a few of the many endeavors that are being pursued.

For all of these activities, the University Libraries provide a setting to accommodate student’s needs by making it easy to access computer workstations and course-oriented software. The median time students spent at the workstations more than suggest that the workstations are an integral element for our student’s research, learning, and scholarly achievement.

We invite members of the academic community to visit the University Libraries often for their research and learning needs. ◙

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Friday, April 02, 2010

Cardinal Scholar Repository: Opening Ball State Scholarship to the World

Open access (OA) publishing is an emergent model of scholarly communication, which promotes the free, online availability of information. In February 2007, the University Libraries launched Cardinal Scholar (, Ball State’s institutional repository, establishing an OA digital archive for the deposit of intellectual capital developed at Ball State University and made available to a worldwide, Internet audience.

While Cardinal Scholar has experienced steady content growth, the adoption of an institution-wide Open Access Mandate could serve as a major catalyst in the expansion of the repository’s potential to be an integral element of the University’s research publishing distribution strategy and increase the reach and impact of the university’s scholarly product.

Open Access initiatives primarily respond to the growing scholarly communications crisis created by static resource budgets and exorbitant price increases imposed by journal publishers. Open Access mandates are a logical correlative of the OA journal model and have been implemented at several leading research universities including Stanford, Kansas, MIT, and Harvard. The implementation of an OA policy at Ball State University would offer our researchers a vehicle for increasing the discoverability and exposure of their publications through the Cardinal Scholar portal.

OA mandates do not impact an author’s ability to publish where s/he chooses, and the author retains all rights to his or her work. The OA policy serves as a pre-existing institutional license to make the article available to a worldwide audience and does not conflict with a publisher’s copyright requirements, protecting both the institution and the author from liability. Extant OA policies also include “opt out” provisions for faculty who may encounter extenuating requirements by a publisher.

Currently, discussions about a BSU Open Access mandate are occurring in appropriate University Senate committees. With the guidance of university administration and faculty stakeholders, the establishment of an OA policy at Ball State, coupled with the robust infrastructural capacity of Cardinal Scholar, represents an unprecedented opportunity for Ball State University to share the valuable intellectual capital of our distinguished faculty researchers, promoting scholarly exchange, collective innovation, and dynamic knowledge synthesis.

Through the aggregation and branding of our outstanding institutional contributions in scholarship and creative work through Cardinal Scholar, an Open Access mandate allows us to demonstrate and emphasize our distinctive and immersive model for teaching, learning, and collaboration, reaching well beyond the brick-and-mortar boundaries of our campus or the borders of our location to maximize the broader impact and inestimable potential and influence of Ball State University well into the future.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

My Favorites Feature in CONTENTdm: Providing Students and Faculty with More Digital Library Power for Research and Study

The Ball State University Libraries’ Digital Media Repository (DMR) system includes more than 200,000 digital assets across 89 collections. These digital resources, each of which has a research and teaching focus, can be searched, read, played, and captured for class presentations, lectures and other research endeavors. The My Favorites module in the CONTENTdm system includes a variety of useful tools for repurposing these digital assets for academic use.

The My Favorites link can be found on the Global Menu bar in the DMR, At this site, users are presented with the My Favorites page, which includes controls in the left column and any objects marked for inclusion in My Favorites on the right. Of course, users must select digital assets as they search or browse the DMR with the “add to favorites” option to populate My Favorites. CONTENTdm allows up to 100 digital objects to be saved in My Favorites.

The BSU PowerPoint Generator is the last option in the My Favorites left column. This powerful tool was developed by library personnel for use with the CONTENTdm system. The BSU PowerPoint Generator creates presentation files with images and metadata that can be used on Windows and Mac OS X systems. The Library Insider highlighted this timesaving tool in an article in the October 2009 issue, page 11, a link to which is available on the University Libraries’ homepage.

The first four options in the My Favorites left column are viewing and sorting features for digital objects:

Slideshow viewer – Create a display of digital image files saved in My Favorites for viewing in a new window with slideshow controls. Available within every installation of CONTENTdm.

Compare feature – Select two objects in My Favorites for a side-by-side comparison in a new window. From the new window, choose another digital image to compare.

Remove item – Easily remove items from My Favorites by selecting the object number and clicking the remove button. An “are you sure” prompt is presented before the object is removed from My Favorites.

Move item – Sort or rearrange items in My Favorites using their object numbers.

The fifth option in the left column, “Save as a Web page,” provides the opportunity to create a new Web page with links to objects in My Favorites. Click the “Create” button to build a custom HTML-formatted Web page that can be loaded into Blackboard or linked on a Web site for use by students or colleagues. The objects on the saved page are clickable, leading the viewer back to the record for the object in the DMR. The filename under which the file is saved will be used to create a title presented at the top of the page.

For more information, contact Bradley D. Faust, Assistant Dean for Library Information Technology Services,, 765-285-8032.

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Friday, March 05, 2010

University Libraries Utilize Facebook: Promoting Programs, Collections, and Services

The University Libraries have recently revised their strategy for utilizing Facebook. Previously, Libraries staff updated the account periodically with photos and selected articles from the Library Insider, which were posted as photos. Beginning in December 2009, the Libraries began to keep the account more current and stepped up active promotion of the account in order to reach students, faculty, and other University Libraries fans.

The Ball State University Libraries’ Facebook account is ballstatelibraries. Anyone interested in following the Libraries can go to instead of having to search within Facebook.

Katie M. Bohnert, Marketing and Communications Manager, took on the task of regularly posting fresh and timely content to the Libraries’ Facebook account. New items and services, current and upcoming exhibits, workshops and instructional sessions have all been highlighted on the Libraries’ Facebook account. There are also reminders and links to timely services, such as reserving study rooms, checking print balances online, and employing wireless printing services. Katie also began posting selected Library Insider newsletter articles as notes instead of images, which makes the text searchable and more likely to be indexed by search engines such as Google.

Facebook also proved to be a valuable tool for communicating with students and faculty in December 2009, when the University’s Web site experienced a brief campus-wide interruption. The Libraries were able to share with our Facebook fans the direct links to unaffected resources, such as CardCat, Articles and Databases, E-Journals, and the Digital Media Repository. When service was restored, another posting alerted fans that the problem had been resolved and thanked them for their patience.

Future possibilities for the ballstatelibraries Facebook account include promotion of musical and theatrical previews in Bracken Library, taking advantage of the photo and video sharing capabilities native to Facebook, and using the Facebook Markup Language (FBML) to provide a way to search the online catalog, CardCat, as well as Articles and Databases from within Facebook, which would be especially helpful for those using mobile devices.

If you are a Facebook user and would like to be a fan of the University Libraries, join us at

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

University Libraries Provide a New Look for e-Journal Access in the Online Catalog

Users seeking electronic journals through the University Libraries’ online catalog, CardCat, have undoubtedly noticed a change in the way their search results are presented. Formerly, it was common practice to find a record on which multiple formats, print and electronic, were consolidated. Current searchers will discover separate entries for multiple formats, with e-journals now having a record of their own. These records are often identified by the presence of the word “Online” in parentheses following the title.

An even more significant improvement is within the bibliographic record itself. Now each record for an e-journal contains a single, convenient link to the University Libraries’ familiar MultiLink interface. MultiLink searches the Libraries’
e-collections for available full-text and will display multiple options for full-text access when available. Rather than seeing a list of various electronic links, users can now click one easily identified link to take advantage of the complete range of electronic full-text options offered by the University Libraries.

This results from the University Libraries’ relationship with SerialsSolutions, Inc., a Seattle-based e-resource access and management service provider. SerialsSolutions provides the University Libraries with the MultiLink and MultiSearch services. Bibliographic records in CardCat have been integrated into these services. From a user perspective, this results in a unified presentation of e-journal information. Whether users are searching for e-journals through CardCat, Citation Linker, the e-journals list, or MultiSearch, the results are displayed in the same way.

As a result of this integration, there are significant benefits to both users and librarians. All of the University Libraries’ e-journal services are now driven by the same underlying database that is maintained by SerialsSolutions, Inc. Rather than maintaining a separate database of electronic access points within CardCat, serials cataloging personnel can now perform all necessary maintenance within the SerialsSolutions database itself. This kind of “one-stop shopping” dramatically increases the efficiency of e-journal management and should greatly improve users’ success in obtaining electronic full-text.

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