Thursday, May 28, 2009

Size, Versatility, Low Cost — Contributing Factors to Netbooks’ Popularity

Recently, some of the University Libraries’ personnel spoke about how they use their netbooks, citing convenience and cost as top attributes. The name, netbook, is apt for this small-size laptop computer because of its reliance on an Internet connection.

James Bradley, Head of Metadata & Digital Initiatives, spent about $375 on his black ASUS Eee PC 1000HE Netbook. It features a 10-inch screen and wireless N connection with Bluetooth connectability. It has a battery life of over seven hours on a charge. He spent another $25 to upgrade the memory to 2 GB RAM.

“I love it,” he said. “During work hours, I use it for e-mail, Web, and word processing. It is portable and easy to take to meetings, thus my notes on a meeting can be saved to my main workstation when I return and then form an electronic and searchable archive of meeting notes and agendas.”

Jim said that, when away from work, he also uses his netbook to watch videos, such as YouTube or Hulu, and he uses Adobe PhotoShop and publishes family photos on his Web site.

When John Straw, Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives and Special Collections, recently attended the 2009 annual meeting of the Academic Libraries of Indiana, he saw several people using netbooks to take notes, view Web sites that the speakers mentioned, and to keep up with their e-mail.

“I have one now, too,” he said. “I just used it at a meeting. It is very compact and useful to take to meetings and to work on-the-go.”

Denise Kinney, Secretary to Library Assistant Deans, really likes her ASUS Eee 1000HA. It features a 160 GB hard drive, sports 1 GB RAM, and offers wireless G capability.

“Big things come in small packages,” she said. “It weighs only three pounds and can operate for five or six hours on the fully charged six-cell battery.”

Denise used her netbook recently while on a trip to access "Microsoft Street Tips and Maps" to locate a library in Michigan and other locations. She has used the wireless connectivity to locate genealogy information and to download knitting and crochet patterns, which she reads as she knits. Like Jim, she enjoys staying in touch with her family and friends, watching movies through Hulu and YouTube, and viewing digital photographs.

“Truly, there is no limit as to what may be accessed or stored on this netbook,” she said. “I have the world at my fingertips through my netbook.”

Robert Seaton, University Libraries’ Web Development Specialist, said he likes the portability of his Acer Aspire One with its 10.1-inch screen and 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 processor. He paid about $350 for the sapphire blue unit.

“I can take it with me everywhere,” he said. “The size is small so it’s like carrying a paper notebook, and it is a fast machine. It’s small enough that I can take it to a meeting and it won’t be distracting.”

Robert said that his netbook even plays some of today’s more popular 3D games. The units do not come standard with a CD-ROM drive, although it makes up for that by having several USB ports and an SD card reader as well as a multi-card reader. It has built-in wireless so any software that he wants can usually be downloaded and installed.

Because the price of the netbook is so reasonable and its performance is so high, the unit seems to be perfectly suited for almost everyone. For less than $400, the user can have a powerful, portable computer that offers word processing, video playback, e-mail, and other functionality. From any WiFi hotspot or ubiquitous 3G network, the netbook is perfect for providing convenient access to the Internet from home, work, or school.

Labels: , , , , ,

Libraries Provide Desktop and Wireless Printing Services for Students and Faculty

The University Libraries provide students and faculty with access to more than 380 computer workstations, including 18 Mac units. All of the popular productivity software used across campus are accessible at these workstations through a key server. The Libraries also provide access to almost 200 specialized, research-oriented, information e-resources including Academic Search Premier, LexisNexis Academic, Web of Science, as well as access to over 16,701 unique full-text e-journals.

Throughout the Libraries, the public workstations are always busy. One sees students working collaboratively in groups or individually on Word documents, creating PowerPoints, performing literature searches, viewing streaming video, videoconferencing, or performing a host of other coursework or research activities. Students can also be seen writing or reading e-mail and staying in contact with friends and family via instant messenger utilities.

A highly used service that we provide clientele is our printing capabilities. The Libraries have 10 laser printers that print documents from students, faculty, and others using the public workstations or submitting wireless print jobs from their personal laptops.

During the 257 day period from August 25, 2008 to May 8, 2009, which spans a few days more than the fall and spring semesters, the Libraries’ users printed 6,212,041 pages for an average of 24,171 pages per day. Of these, 16,748 persons printed 51.2% of the pages during fall semester 2008 and 16,011 persons printed 48.8% of them during spring semester 2009.

The interested reader can find data for fiscal year 2007-2008 published in The Library Insider 6(8): 2, 2008.

The accompanying table reveals the breakdown by user classification for each semester for persons printing documents in the Libraries. This percentage can be interpreted as the Libraries’ penetration into each user group for providing printing services. For example, during fall semester, 64% of Ball State’s freshmen students printed at least one page in the Libraries. As a whole, during fall semester, 75.5% of Ball State’s undergraduate students used the Libraries to print documents, and 62.8% of the university’s graduate students used the service.

The table also shows the average number of pages printed by user group for each semester. For example, among undergraduates, seniors printed the most pages each semester, 277.7 pages in the fall and 264.5 in the spring.
Analysis of the Type of Documents Printed

An analysis of the types of documents printed, as identified by the VendPrint Print Management Solution software, shows similar results for each semester. For fall semester, for example, the breakdown was as follows: Word (36.4%), PDFs (20.9%), PowerPoint (14.7%), non-BSU Web pages (11.1%), BSU Web pages (2.4%) Photo/Images (1.7%), Excel (1.1%), Publisher (0.5%), Miscellaneous (0.1), and Other (11.1%). The first seven of these categories account for 88.3% of the types of documents.

These data show that making it easy for students and faculty to print their documents in the Libraries is an important part of shaping their informational activities and enhancing their overall library experiences. The volume and types of documents printed suggest that the Libraries’ printing service is an important element for students’ and faculty’s research, teaching, academic achievement, and learning needs.

Labels: , ,

Outside Furniture Provides Gathering Spaces, Expands Use of Plazas

Recently, five outdoor tables were added to Bracken Library’s north and south plazas for student and faculty enjoyment. Already this furniture is popular with those who want to catch some sunshine while studying outside, taking a break, or grabbing a bite to eat al fresco.

Ball State University's plazas on the north and south sides of the library offer full wireless connectivity so that students and faculty can access the Libraries’ resources through their laptops or other portable devices. The tables are manufactured using 68% recycled material.

Providing the tables is another step toward making the University Libraries the most inviting, friendly space on campus for research, learning, and friends.

Labels: , , ,

University Libraries’ Sixth Annual Faculty Technology Showcase a Success

The sixth annual Faculty Technology Showcase featured one-on-one demonstrations of blogs, video, and iClicker at Bracken Library. This annual event, hosted by the Technology Training Support Services unit, is an exciting and popular event for those who want to see how technology is used in the classroom.

The showcase took place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22, 2009. Bracken Library’s New Books/Bestsellers corner was temporarily transformed into an area for discussions and demonstrations so faculty could share with others the many ways they use technology in the classroom.

The event was well attended and informative. The following faculty provided sessions:

* Dr. Timothy C. Carter, Assistant Professor of Biology, demonstrated the use of iClicker Classroom Response System.

* Drs. Alice A. Spangler and Sue H. Whitaker from the Department of Family & Consumer Sciences, with their research assistant Jamarcus L. Fanning, displayed a Community Outreach project that made use of blogs.

* Dr. Mathew J. Stuve, Associate Professor of Educational Technology, and Julie A. Biddle, an alum of the college, demonstrated the use of video in the student reflective process as a part of their development as educators. In absentia, Megan S. Noel contributed to the poster.

* Dr. Keith Kothman, Associate Professor of Music Composition and Music Technology, demonstrated how blogs are quick and easy tools which help one to stay organized and allow for posting of course materials. He also showed how he uses (a do-it-yourself social networking site) for collaborative class projects.

Recent Art Purchase Award Helps to Beautify Bracken Library

The 74th Annual Student Art Show, held at Ball State University’s Museum of Art, featured student artwork in all media, from painting and sculpture to video and furniture. Each year, a panel of jurors considers hundreds of student works for selection in this show, narrowing the final selection to between 100 and 125. The result is a student exhibition that showcases outstanding talent and quality artwork.

For purchase, the Ball State University Libraries selected New English by artist Michael R. Hurt, a senior from Redkey, Indiana. Originally, Professor Marilyn Derwenskus, Ball State Department of Art, started the painting. Upon her retirement this past year, she gave almost all of her unfinished sketches and paintings to students while encouraging them to reuse the canvas or paint over them, if desired. Michael chose this particular canvas for its composition and mysterious nature.

“I liked how the pillar on the left enclosed the scene while adding a sort of two-dimensional border uncommon to artworks,” he said. “I had sort of an immediate connection to this piece.”

Michael had always enjoyed the graffiti art found on railroad cars and in many urban settings. He was inspired by a graffiti artist named Heist from Toledo, Ohio. Michael commented that he had seen Heist paint whole freight train cars, from top to bottom and from side to side.

New English examines the differences and commonalities between two generations of artists – Marilyn’s generation, which covers periods of Abstract Expressionism, Neo-Expressionism, Pop Art, Op Art with influences from movements of the earlier 1900s, and Michael’s generation of graffiti artists who widely ignore the traditional artistic heritage in exchange for a self-satisfying culture.

“In the future, this style of art may be viewed as the most influential artistic movement in centuries,” he said. “Amidst this huge gap in artistic background, I think the piece holds together well while speaking volumes both conceptually and visually to the passing of the torch to a new set of artists and the remembrance of those who have come before us.”

Labels: , , , ,

The Libraries Upgrade E-Journal Access with MultiLink

In January 2009, the University Libraries embarked on a major project to overhaul how we manage access to online journals. We are now achieving a major milestone with the unveiling of SerialsSolution’s 360 Link software, which we are calling MultiLink.

MultiLink succeeds FindIt@BSU. From a user’s perspective, it works much the same way. Something that the user will notice that is different with MultiLink is a new blue button with some of the citations. Clicking the button produces a menu of links to multiple options for obtaining the citation’s full text.

In many cases, the University Libraries provide direct access to journal articles on the Web. However, when we do not have access, ILLiad provides speedy access via interlibrary loan. As always, there is an option to check the online catalog, CardCat. With MultiLink, we have added some new alternatives, including WorldCat, a global database of library resources, and Google Scholar, which indexes both commercially published and open access scholarly materials.

While the basic operation of MultiLink is not new to the University Libraries, it represents several major improvements in access to online scholarship. For example, we have implemented a 1-Click feature, where a click of the MultiLink button goes straight to a full-text article when one is available. MultiLink, as before with FindIt@BSU, is also accessible with the Citation Linker and an integrated Electronic Journals portal.

Very significant benefits arise from the fact that MultiLink and the Electronic Journals portal are integrated. Both services are driven by the same underlying database – the massive electronic journals database maintained by the Seattle-based SerialsSolutions, Inc. Prior to beginning our relationship with SerialsSolutions, Inc., the Libraries maintained links to electronic journals in three different “silos,” not an efficient arrangement. The single Electronic Resource Management System streamlines maintenance and will dramatically improve accuracy, which should translate to increased user success in finding full text.

Another improvement in electronic resource management will come with an integrated usage statistics component. This component will increase our capacity to make optimal collection and spending decisions.

For more information, contact James W. Hammons, Head of Library Technologies,, 765-285-8032.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bracken Library Voted “Best Place to Study” by Ball State Community

The Ball State Daily News, a student-run newspaper with a circulation of 14,000, recently asked the campus community to vote for the “best” in several categories. More than 2,000 votes were cast online and at various ballot boxes around campus.

With helpful librarians, outstanding digital and print resources, and hundreds of PC and Mac workstations, it is no wonder Bracken Library was voted Best Place to Study. Bracken Library, located in the heart of campus, is the place to meet friends, study, research, and to finalize projects. Our doors are in constant motion 120.5 hours per week.

The University Libraries’ tagline is “A destination for research, learning, and friends.” These seven words summarize and convey the personality of our brand and its promise. Students know when they visit Bracken they are at a place where they can accomplish their work and achieve what they set out to do.

Labels: , ,

Ball State University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections Now Providing Reference Services in Second Life

Ball State University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections now offer reference hours in Second Life, a free online virtual world.

Archivists Maren Read, a.k.a. Em Ziplon, and Carolyn Runyon, a.k.a. Carolyn Robonaught, are available to answer questions on Mondays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon and Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. A “drop box” is also available at the reference desk to leave questions and comments about the University Libraries and the Middletown Studies Library and Archives 24/7.

This new service has been made possible, in part, through an Innovative Library Program Grant for 2008-09 to the University Libraries as part of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), funding for which was appropriated by the U.S. Congress in 1996 and administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Indiana State Library.

In collaboration with Ball State’s Center for Middletown Studies and the Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts and Animation (IDIAA), the University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections has been working this past year to develop the virtual Bracken Library and the virtual Middletown Studies Library and Archives on the Ball State University Island in Second Life.

When the project is complete in June 2009, students, faculty, and researchers will be able to chat with archivists, explore an exhibit on the history of Muncie as Middletown, watch films such as The Man Haters (35 mm silent movie filmed in Muncie in 1915) in the library screening room, and gather for classes and meetings “inworld.”

For more information, contact Maren L. Read, Archivist for Manuscript Collections, or Carolyn Runyon, Archivist for Digital Development and University Records,, 765-285-5078.

Labels: , , , ,

Scott McFadden Reaches Quarterfinals in Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest

Scott McFadden, Head of Serials Cataloging at Ball State University Libraries, was named a quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. An excerpt of his unpublished novel, The Lover’s Tree, is available for free download from the Web site.

View to be linked directly to the download page for McFadden’s excerpt. Readers are also able to post reviews of the excerpt on the Amazon site.

The contest, which culminates with the awarding of a $25,000 book contract from Penguin Group to the winning entry, is sponsored by in partnership with Penguin Group (USA) and CreateSpace. The entry period lasted for a week, or until 10,000 entries were received, whichever came first.

Entries consisted of a pitch, an excerpt of 3,000 to 5,000 words, and the complete manuscript of an original novel, as well as author biographical information.

As a quarterfinalist, Scott was one of 500 entrants to advance to this point in the contest. His pitch was judged by a panel of Amazon editors, and his excerpt was evaluated by a number of expert reviewers. Now the excerpt is available for download, and may be reviewed by any interested reader. Editors from Publishers Weekly will be reading the applicants’ full manuscript during this period.

The semi-finals were announced on April 15 and reduced the number of entrants to 100. Three finalists were announced on May 15. The finalists’ complete novels will be reviewed by a panel of judges which includes Sue Grafton, the well-known mystery writer, and Sue Monk Kidd, author of the best-selling novel The Secret Life of Bees. readers will also be able to vote for the winner from among the three finalists. All three finalists will be flown to Seattle, Washington to take part in an awards dinner and to hear the announcement of the winner.

Scott has been writing short stories and novels since he was a teenager. The Lover’s Tree, an urban fantasy that tells the story of a strong-willed newspaper reporter and her investigation of a series of mysterious deaths at an idyllic lakeside resort, is his second completed novel.

Labels: , ,

Profile: The University Libraries’ Metadata and Digital Initiatives Unit

Ball State University Libraries offer an ever-expanding virtual collection for research and learning. In essence, today’s library increasingly comes into the consumer’s living and work space, making the library a virtual mobile resource – mobile and ubiquitous – or mobiquitous.

This mobiquitous environment is possible, in part, because of the tags that are embedded in digital content so that people can find the items easily online. Contributing to the anytime/anywhere access to data is a group of University Libraries employees who work behind the scenes. Over the past four years, the Metadata and Digital Initiatives (MADI) unit has expanded to six full-time employees, eight to ten student workers, and occasional grant-supported part-time contract personnel. The growth of this unit is because of the demand for digital assets.

James Bradley is head of Metadata & Digital Initiatives. He also serves as a liaison to Ball State’s academic departments and frequently collaborates with on-campus partners to bring classroom materials to the Web. Such projects enhance student learning by increasing accessibility and interactivity of educational media.

For example, a current project between the Department of Art and the University Libraries will allow students to view online specific art history images that coincide with their course needs and textbook illustrations. Other collaborative efforts in progress are with the Ball State Museum of Art, the Center for Media Design, and the Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts and Animation.

Jim and other MADI librarians, Jonathan Brinley and Amanda Hurford, apply digital standards and metadata sets which are used to create a digital collection that now contains more than 120,000 objects. They supervise the many processes through which digital assets must pass before they are added to online collections in a searchable format. Jim, Jonathan, and Amanda often give presentations and workshops to local, regional, and national groups. Their topics are often based on a variety of ongoing projects or problems they have encountered in working with digital assets.

MADI personnel digitize physical objects using various photographic and scanning technology. They describe and catalog the digital artifacts consistent with metadata Some items have never before been cataloged, so MADI and Cataloging and Metadata Services personnel collaborate in these instances to create new metadata records. Other items already have records in the Libraries’ catalog or in various other systems. These records often have to be cross-walked using a combination of custom programming and manual intervention, transforming the data into a new format for the Digital Media Repository.

Paraprofessionals Melanie Davis and Ken Fadely engage in digital processing – transforming traditional library materials into a digital form. Along with several student workers in their area, they digitize a variety of formats in large quantities. From text-based materials, to large-scale maps, to photographs and transparencies, MADI has the equipment and the expertise to convert them to digital formats.

Tony Reynolds, Digital Media Description Analyst, also participates in digitization in varying forms. He assists with scanning and photography for grant-based projects and other special or fragile materials. He often participates in metadata repurposing of catalog data and asset description, as well as optical character recognition (OCR) of text-based materials. OCR can turn a static image of a page into a searchable document suited for Web display.

Jim reports that the challenge in information technology, specifically with regard to digital access, is the issue of storing items in our system today and predicting what manner of storage will allow the items to be shared in other environments tomorrow.

“We are putting our digital assets into what might be thought of as containers, and we have to be sure that those containers are flexible enough to serve a wide variety of user needs,” Jim said.

Labels: , , ,