What if all the books of the Big Ten libraries were available online and fully searchable—as easy to search as Web pages are today? Imagine the possibilities: researchers would be able to search every word in every volume and make connections across works that would have taken weeks—even years—to make in the past.
This promise of discovery is the dream for IU and our peer libraries in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (the academic side of the Big Ten), who last summer entered into a collective agreement with Google to digitize the libraries’ distinctive book collections. These collections will be scanned into digital format and made available online in a project estimated to take 7 to 10 years.
IU and the University of Michigan will co-host a shared repository to archive the items and to provide access to the full content of out-of-copyright works.
A strategic alliance between IU and ChaCha, an Indiana company that is creating a new way of providing Internet searches, incorporates the collective knowledge and experience of the university’s library and information technology staff. By combining machine-based searches with input from human guides, ChaCha offers the instant results of a traditional search engine, but with expert guidance.
As an extension of the online reference services the IUB Libraries have long provided, librarians can point the academic community to the databases and online resources to which we subscribe. Users will benefit from easier access to trustworthy information sources.
Our new Web site emphasizes the search function as a means to discover resources. Searching in this context functions as a pathway, not an end result. Technology now makes it possible to search multiple resources simultaneously: visitors to the site no longer have to distinguish between a “database,” “index,” or “journal” to find what they need.
We are also pushing subscription-based electronic resources beyond the library Web site. Targeted resources are now easier for students to access. Faculty can now create reading lists in the course management software they use to post assignments and syllabi, allowing students to accomplish their work without having to log out of one application and into another. The feature was created by IU in partnership with the University of Michigan and with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. IU was also selected by the Digital Library Federation to advance this work for the benefit of libraries nationwide.
Last year the IUB Libraries acted as stewards for more than $10.3 million dedicated to library collections, investing more than $5.7 million in electronic resources. Library users conducted more than 8 million searches in more than 485 databases (making the average cost per search in an electronic database 15 cents) and borrowed more than 666,000 items.
We continue to work with national partners to guarantee our users have long-term access to electronic journals.
Librarians demonstrate their value as teachers. One example: Our instructional services librarian is co-principal investigator (with faculty members from art education, astronomy, gender studies, and studio art) in a three-year research project to identify how visual methods can enhance teaching and learning. The project was awarded one of only two maximum $35,000 grants from the university’s Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Program. The outcome of the project will inform instructors—at IU and elsewhere—how visual literacy can advance teaching practices.
We are helping faculty distribute their scholarship in new ways, motivated in part by our desire to address skyrocketing journal costs. IUScholarWorks, the digital repository for disseminating and preserving scholarly work at IU, continues to grow. We will soon help faculty publish their own electronic journals.
We are constantly evaluating and adjusting spaces within the libraries to meet user needs, sometimes in unexpected ways. A review of the Journalism Library, based on focus groups of undergraduate and graduate students, led to a new model for that space in which the School of Journalism took over daily operations. Following recommendations of Kelley School of Business students assigned to evaluate the library there, we have begun transforming that traditional library into a technology-rich Information Commons. We are also advancing our plans to create a Research Commons in the Wells Library to provide faculty and graduate students a one-stop destination for research support on the Bloomington campus.