Thursday, July 17, 2008

Libraries Provide Valuable Benefits to Students, Faculty

The Libraries’ vision is to provide services that support student pursuits for academic success and faculty endeavors for knowledge creation and classroom instruction. Simply stated, we promise to be a destination for research, learning, and friends.

During the week of July 7, we asked students and faculty visiting the University Libraries what they valued most. Student responses were supportive of our destination concept by saying that the libraries are the place to go for them to get work done.

“I come here every day when I’m researching, so I’ll stay from two to four hours per day,” said Carissa Buchholz, a junior studying natural resources and environmental management. “I value the fourth floor because it is a quiet zone, and I can come here to focus and work.”

Faculty member Michael Brown, an associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice, agrees. “I can come to the fourth floor and get work done with no distractions,” he said.

For some people, Bracken Library’s meeting and study rooms are an important attribute. There are 16 rooms of various sizes that can be reserved by the campus community. Haoyan Li, a student from China, said, “I like that my friends and class can use the meeting rooms and work together on assignments.”

Sherrod Bybee, a recent Ball State graduate and new member of the Channel 8 Weather Team at KLKN-TV in Lincoln, Nebraska, relates how video editing technology in the Libraries’ Multimedia Computing area allowed him to produce a polished résumé DVD containing his weather forecast segments. He feels that these examples of his work helped him to secure the job and launch his career.

Many people complimented the University Libraries for providing desktop and laptop printing and the availability of movies, CDs, and laptops for borrowing.

“I appreciate checking out DVD movies from the library,” said Cody Cramer, a graduate student in counseling. He also recognized the value of being able to easily print copies of articles, classroom PowerPoints, and other materials for study.

Interlibrary Loan Services are another highly valued service. Just ask Bridget Hahn, a graduate student in the Department of History. She refers to the ILS staff as heroes.

“I recently took a graduate writing seminar in which the bulk of the course is crafting a semester long research paper. I chose a topic that couldn't be easily researched on campus, but the folks in Interlibrary Loan helped me to obtain the materials I needed with a few books even arriving two days after I had requested them,” she said. “The prompt service, dedication to getting materials I needed and the ability to be reached for questions makes the people in Interlibrary Loan irreplaceable.”

The University Libraries’ personnel, collections, technology, study spaces and meeting rooms all contribute toward making the University Libraries valuable to the campus community. The Libraries are the destination for students and faculty to visit time and time again for research, learning, and friends

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Libraries' Services, Collections Heavily Used by Students

At the end of March, 2008, we published a listing of the University Libraries’ five key accomplishments for the period July 1, 2007 through March 31, 2008. You are invited to view our Performance with Purpose accomplishments at

Now that fiscal year 2007-2008 is completed, we have final counts for several important metrics that demonstrate our service performance outcomes. For example, our turnstile count shows that 1,311,438 persons passed through the Libraries’ turnstiles, an increase of 10,048 or 0.8% over the same period last fiscal year. We increased the number of library education sessions to 933, up by 1.2% over last fiscal year. Bracken Library was open to serve students and faculty for 360 days during the last fiscal year, offering 120.5 hours of service during the academic semesters and almost the same number of hours during interim periods.

Since the end of the fiscal year, we have been analyzing Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 data that we collect from our circulation records, public computer workstations, printer logs, and other sources. While the data for both the fall and spring semesters are very similar, I will review Spring 2008.

Interpretation of the data shows that of 3,582 freshmen, 44.9% of those students borrowed something from the Libraries. The data shows that 86.5% or 3,099 of our freshman used the Libraries’ public workstations at least once during the semester. Other data show that these same users represent 35,163 or 17.1% of the 205,397 computer sessions during Spring 2008 semester. Closely tied to utilization of the Libraries’ almost 400 public workstations is the use of our public printers. Our public laser printers, which offer students free printing from the desktop or laptop, were used by 3,207 freshmen, 65.0%, who executed 76,896 print jobs.

The data presents a lot of interesting and valuable information that will help librarians and library administrators to identify which student groups we need to work on even harder to attract to the University Libraries. Similar past analyses have been fruitful and we are succeeding in attracting more users to the Libraries. The data in this table shows that 88.7% of our freshmen have used at least one library service. This number grows for sophomores (91.7%), juniors (92.3%), and seniors (93.3%).

E-mail Signature Blocks Can Communicate Library’s Brand

The use of e-mail has greatly changed the way we communicate. It is quick and easy, and effectively using e-mail can greatly add to a librarian’s productivity. Its electronic nature also allows for easy tracking and monitoring of projects.

At the bottom of an e-mail after the content, a writer has many options on how to sign off. For the past five years, Dr. Arthur W. Hafner, Dean of Ball State University Libraries, has encouraged all University Libraries’ personnel to use a consistent e-mail signature block when sending out official Libraries' correspondence.

He recognizes that a well-crafted e-mail signature block can provide important information about the writer and it also affords the librarian with a branding opportunity. It is an electronic calling card that can be viewed by all persons who read the e-mail.

“Using the e-mail signature block is an easy and inexpensive way for librarians to call attention to their library and to communicate its mission, tag line, slogan, or other important information with each e-mail,” said Dr. Hafner.

To increase the impact of using the signature block as part of a library promotion strategy, the e-mail signature of all library employees should use the same font, background colors, and quote the same slogan, tagline, or other message that is being promoted. For impact, it should be limited to 6 to 10 lines.

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Books Help Us Discover the Past — Understanding the Present

by Teresa L. Story, Collections Development Assistant

The Ball State University Libraries offer an impressive military history collection, developed by careful selections of resources and enhanced by thoughtful donations of faculty and private citizens over many years. As an assistant to the librarians who select, develop, and manage the Libraries’ collections, I have many opportunities to view resources before they are catalogued for use by our students and faculty.

While military history is not necessarily a topic that I might select for my own reading enjoyment, I was intrigued by a recently donated book about World War II, Finding Your Father’s War: A Practical Guide to Researching and Understanding Service in the World War II US Army by Jonathan Gawne. It is a handbook for laypersons interested in researching a family member’s experience as an enlisted soldier in World War II. The book features photos, charts, research sources, and general information about the various units in the U.S. Army.

Similar to other veterans of WWII, my father rarely discussed his military experiences. My knowledge was limited to knowing that he was an airplane mechanic and sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Forces. I learned additional information from his discharge papers as I prepared his memorial services, yet I regretted that this unique time of his life had remained a mystery for so many years. As I glanced through the pages of Finding Your Father’s War, I was thrilled to discover even more about my father’s military past.

Perhaps symbolic of Dad’s desire to bury memories of that time, his military documents and related paraphernalia were discretely stored in a small briefcase in his bedroom closet where he kept them.

Until Finding Your Father’s War came upon my desk, I had no idea what these long forgotten items meant or the circumstances in which they were awarded. I learned about the Distinguished Unit Citation awarded to his unit, the Good Conduct Medal authorized by his commanding officer, and the ribbons that all service personnel received at the end of the war.

I was able to match his Unit award, technician’s badge, ribbons, and uniform insignias to photos in the book of the same items. A uniform jacket covered in a plastic bag and trinkets in a briefcase are now more significant to me than ever before. Because World War II veterans are dying at an increasing rate, library tools such as Finding Your Father’s War are very useful in helping us fully appreciate our loved ones’ military experiences and sacrifices.

With additional research, I hope to gain further insight about how this historic war personally affected my father, a young man from rural Tennessee, and its impact on the remainder of his life and our family.

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Digital Humanities Summer Institute Excellent for Librarian’s Skill Building and Networking

This past Memorial Day, while most Hoosiers were enjoying a long, relaxing weekend full of family gatherings and barbeques, I was settling into a week of learning, discussion, and networking at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI), a week-long workshop/conference hosted annually by the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

The Institute, held May 26-30, 2008, was an intense combination of lecture, track-based coursework, and fellowship among information professionals who use computing technologies in their day-to-day work. Many of the attendees were librarians. Others were technologists, educators, and researchers working in humanities-based fields like art, history, and English. Several of the students attended the DHSI on a scholarship, including me.

During each day the attendees branched out into specific and separate classes, and each evening we gathered together for lectures of interest to the whole group. These seminars focused on topics like information authority, digitization projects, three-dimensional imaging, and digital scholarship. During these group lectures, we heard from experts working in the digital humanities and learned from their experiences. Videos of the lectures are available at the DHSI Web site,

My course track, “Multimedia: Design for Visual, Auditory, and Interactive Electronic Environments,” offered advanced skill development for interactive online environments. From basic Web best practices to specific tools like Blogger and Dreamweaver, this course immersed its students into the world of new media and allowed us to learn several new skills in a very short time.

The skills I learned at the Institute are easily applicable to my work with the University Libraries’ digital projects such as the Digital Media Repository. For example, by honing my existing Web development and digital photography abilities, I can better present our students and faculty with digital content for their research and classroom instruction needs.

I also gained experience with several tools that can be used to publicize the University Libraries’ digital assets, such as podcasts, digital movies, and blogs. These emerging technologies can help to promote the University Libraries’ vast digital resources.

For more information about the DHSI experience or multimedia tools, contact Amanda A. Hurford, Digital Initiatives Multimedia Developer,, 765-285-3349.

Information Services Outreach to Indiana Academy Parents

Sending a child to college is never easy for a parent, but imagine sending your high school student away from home to finish their junior and senior years. That is what about 150 parents did earlier this year.

They chose to send their students to a residential campus, The Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities located in Muncie, Indiana.

Recently, Information Services librarians Brenda Yates Habich, Stacy Chaney-Blankenship, and Lisa Jarrell partnered with the Academy in a new outreach program and they became involved with the Academy’s new student orientation. The librarians talked informally with parents during the orientation process and offered information about what to do should their student call home unsure about where to go for research help.

A 2006 survey about college parent experiences found that 74% of parents continued to communicate with their son or daughter two to three times a week once they left for college, and that the parents’ primary concern was their child’s academic success. This survey can be viewed at

Taking information from this report into consideration, our librarians decided to create a program in order to reach out to parents of the Academy’s incoming students. The goal was to inform parents and students that the University Libraries’ programs, services, and rich collections can help support the needs of the students since Academy students are considered members of the Ball State University community.

The Academy students have the same access to the University Libraries as any Ball State undergraduate, and they use the University Libraries as their primary library while enrolled at the Academy. Many of the students have never experienced using an academic library before coming to the Academy.

The outreach activities are designed to help familiarize the students with the library and help them to feel more comfortable using our programs, services, and collections.

The parents’ initial reaction was extremely positive. They were receptive to the outreach, to our brochures and conversations about resources, and about help for the students and contact information.

One parent said, “This is wonderful! Now I can just send them to you and you’ll help them.” Another responded, “This is so helpful. Thank you for taking time to be here.”

Future plans include a more in-depth session in mid-August with incoming juniors to explain how to use the library for their classes and to provide contact information for these new students.

For more information, contact Brenda Yates Habich,, 765-285-1101, or Stacy B. Chaney-Blankenship,, 765-285-3325.

Euro 2008 Soccer Brings Ball State’s International Students Together

Many of Ball State’s international students set their laptops and books aside for a few hours while at Bracken Library to watch the European Championship together.

From June 19-22, 2008, the quarter-finals resulted in Portugal’s loss to Germany while Croatia and Turkey tied at one goal each. Russia beat the Netherlands 3-1, and Spain took the win over Italy on penalties with a score of 4-2.

The library staff enjoyed the students’ camaraderie and positive spirits during the playoffs. The semi-finals on Thursday and Friday, June 25 and 26, ended with Germany ousting Turkey at 3-2 and Spain trumping Russia, 3-0.

The final game was billed as a clash of Germany's efficiency and power versus Spain's fluidity and creativity. Spain had not won a major tournament since 1964, yet they finally proved they are able to cope with pressure of the highest stage. Spaniard Fernando Torres scored the only goal for a 1-0 win over Germany.

The comfortable seating and large screen television in Bracken’s lower level provided a great opportunity for students to enjoy the Euro 2008 soccer matches, which topped the television ratings in all of the participating nations.