News from the Dean: Transformation in Academic Libraries

I recently attended the American Libraries Association Annual Conference where the theme of transitions and transformation permeated the sessions. Academic libraries are intimately intertwined with the publishing world, technological innovations, and teaching and learning. All three arenas are replete with change.

So what is going on in these arenas and how is it affecting us in the UMKC Libraries?

Publishing

Electronic access to journal publications has become the norm. Many journals are now only available in digital format. The preference for full-text online access to journal articles stands out in the sheer number of usage statistics: in 2011 UMKC users conducted over 2,008,000 searches and accessed over 1,093,000 full-text articles and books. Re-shelving and request statistics for bound journals in the past 5 years have dropped precipitously. We have stopped getting print journals where electronic versions are available in a secure repository. We now scan requests for print journals articles for UMKC faculty and students and email the scanned copy to you. The situation with e-books is in a true state of transition. In 2011, e-book sales surpassed the sales of hardcover books. The popularity of e-book readers like the Kindle Fire and e-book apps for tablets have paralleled the burgeoning sales of e-books. In the survey the library conducted last year, UMKC faculty and students strongly indicated the desire for more of our collection to be available electronically.

We are listening; one of our strategic goals has been to obtain new resources for our collection to electronic wherever possible.

The other change in the publishing world is the trend towards open access publishing where the author retains their copyrights. More and more commercial publishers are willing to allow authors to retain their copyrights and the library is available to assist you if you are interested in learning how to do this. We also work with other libraries in the UM System to provide MoSpace where you can store an electronic version of your publications and scholarly research and it can be found via a Google search. If the goal of scholarly publication is to make research widely available to the public, this is truly the answer to how to do this and not have your publications behind pay walls of publishers and vendors.

Technology

Technology is a part of every aspect of our lives. Libraries have had online catalogs for decades and now license massive indexing and full-text databases to make your research easier and more accessible. Now we provide facilities and furnishings that are rich in technology for collaborative and individual work. Many libraries have digitization centers and knowledge creations centers where you can produce multi-media publications. Mobile technologies make it possible to do your research wherever you are and if you have an e-book reader or app you can read e-books and other documents at any time. As the Miller Nichols Library is transformed with the ongoing renovations, you can see the possibilities of collaborative learning enhanced with technology on our 1st floor Information Commons. Students bring their mobile devices and can print wirelessly. We also have scanners that allow for emailing the scanned document to eliminate the need to print the documents. 

Teaching and Learning

As courses have increasingly added online components, if they are not completely online, you will find the library present in the Blackboard course with electronic reserves.  Of course, all of our electronic resources make it possible to conduct research for a paper from anywhere and at anytime.  Librarians are available to help with research through email, text and chat services as well in face-to-face consultations.  Librarians also are in the classroom teaching about how to conduct scholarly research. Our Copyright Support Team is available to faculty to provide guidance on fair use of copyrighted materials both in the classroom and online.