During the last year, the UW Library has focused on four important objectives:
The Library continues to build the electronic library
The Library offers access to over 7000 full-text electronic journals as well as other electronic products. Some examples of resources recently made available online are:
Last fall, the Library established an electronic reserve reading service. This service essentially provides students 24-hour access to reserve reading material. The types of materials that are available electronically include:
Our records show that on average we are providing service to 25 courses per term with approx 200+ files and 25,000 downloads per term.
A study was conducted during the winter term to determine the feasibility of introducing virtual reference. As a result of the study, the recommendation was made that the Library introduce virtual reference as soon as possible using LSSI Virtual Reference Software. An implementation team is now in place developing plans for the introduction of the service.
Ask Us/Tell UsService Enhanced
The Library's Ask Us/Tell Us service provides answers, by e-mail, to brief, factual questions. It also provides an opportunity to comment or make suggestions about library collections and services. Intended for the convenience of the UW community, it provides 24-hour turnaround service during weekdays. The redesigned Ask Us/ Tell Us page features a sidebar of links to information about the Library and to its collections and services. These links were created in response to frequently asked questions, such as "How can I obtain a copy of a UW thesis?" or "Can I use my MasterCard to pay library fines?"
Access to Information
Students and faculty members can now connect to the Internet on their own laptops in the Library. There are eight connections in the Dana Porter Library, eight in the Davis Centre Library, and two in the University Map and Design Library. In response to student requests for further email access in the libraries, two dedicated email-enabled workstations have been installed in each of the Dana Porter and Davis Libraries. The software on these PCs includes a web browser, telnet client, and standard reader plug-ins. As well, the Library is now testing access through the new wireless network in the Davis Centre.
news @ your library launched
In September '01, the Library launched a new e-publication, news @ your library. The purpose of the publication is to keep the campus community informed about new resources, services, and current issues facing the Library. We decided to replace the print publication For Your Information with an electronic publication as a result of feedback received from a survey conducted of faculty and graduate students. To date, we have published 11 issues. http://www.lib.uwaterloo.ca/newsatlib/
Almost 25 years to the day since its official opening in 1976, the multi-year renovation of the Doris Lewis Rare Book Room was completed and the staff and public areas were re-located to larger and enhanced facility on the first floor of the Porter Library.
Designed to nearly double the shelve space available for fragile rare book and archival materials, the mobile shelving units now occupy almost the entire stacks and storage area and provide secure and efficient housing for these valuable research materials. The final stage of the phase implementation program took place in September 2001 when the reception area, staff work area and reading room were moved the east side of the first floor of the Porter Library. The new reading room provides large research and consultation tables as well as ergonomically designed seating in a secure, quiet and comfortable area for researchers to consult items retrieved from the department's collections. The enlarged adjacent staff work area, separated from the reading room by a glass wall, enables staff to monitor activity in the room reading. Proximity to researchers also facilitates the in-depth consultation and assistance by staff with researchers using a variety of primary source materials. The reading room also contains public access terminals, display areas and will serve as a reception area for Library and University functions.
Update on LibQUAL+
The winter 2001 survey, conducted at UW and 45 other major research university libraries in North America, was phase 2 of a 5-year research project. The survey consisted of questions on matters such as access to collections, reliability of services, and "the library as place." Library staff members have done a preliminary review of the data, looking for important findings. For example, we have learned that respondents rank the Library low as "a haven for quiet and solitude." We know that the libraries, especially the Davis Centre, are busy and often noisy places. As part of the international LibQUAL+ group, we will be in a position to learn if users are more concerned about noise than those at other universities are, and we may find out what other libraries are doing to address the problem.
The Library puts considerable effort into its web sites to help users navigate the web. We were pleased to find that users gave them high rating, expressed as "a library website enabling me to locate information on my own."
There is much more to do with the data. There is also a need to determine how statistically significant some of the findings are and to compare expectations and perceptions among the three survey groups, i.e., faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduates.
Web Usability Study
In collaboration with a professor in Systems Design engineering, the Library conducted a series of usability tests of its home web page to identify ways to make the page a more effective gateway to the vast amount of information included in the Library's web site. Acting as consultants to the Library, students from a 3rd year User -Centred Design class initially applied formal usability testing methods to the main gateway page, creating prototypes that could resolve the problems that were identified. Last term the class studied the usability of the site's navigation scheme. The project has been an excellent learning experience for students and the Library.
The Library now has its own usability-testing program. The program involves creating several prototypes that incorporate some of the students' suggestions and address other known problems. To confirm that the design changes are effective, we test faculty and student use of the prototypes and conduct focus groups to explore and clarify language, layout, and navigation issues. http://library.uwaterloo.ca:80/staff/community/gatewaydesign.htm
A committee of library staff has been reviewing and making recommendations for improvements to the effectiveness of the signage in the Dana Porter and Davis Centre libraries. The committee has completed two studies and is currently working on a third in conjunction with students from a 4th year Integrative Ergonomic class. http://library.uwaterloo.ca:80/staff/signage/study/index.html
The library is re-evaluating activities and exploring new possibilities aimed at enhancing student learning. Our goal is to help students to learn to use the Library, the Internet, and the increasingly complex world of information. Library instruction sessions, designed to help students locate and use library resources, are still available. We are also exploring ways to heighten awareness of the information literacy skills needed by students and ways to form partnerships aimed at helping students develop these skills. The Association of College and Research Libraries Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education make it clear that even if students of the past knew how to use a library with maximum efficiency-and many of them did not-the world has changed. "In some respects computer-based technologies have made retrieval faster and easier," says an article co-authored by University of Waterloo librarian Anne Fullerton, included in the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science.
The University of Waterloo Fifth Decade report described a goal of university education in the coming decade: ensure that students learn how to find, manage, and evaluate information. University graduates will need, according to ACRL standards, the ability to determine the nature and extent of information needed, access it effectively and efficiently, evaluate it, and use it to accomplish specific purposes. Graduates should also understand many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information so that they can access and use it ethically and legally.
Some examples of recent library collaborative enterprises: