After the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, many of the faculty librarians are struck by the systemic failure of institutions to condemn white supremacist hate speech and fascism. Champions of ‘both sides’ represent a key point of rhetorical failure, as though it were possible to have a productive conversation with someone who believes you shouldn’t exist. Continue reading “Never Neutral”
[As told by Amanda Wentworth]: As someone who relatively recently became interested in the wonderful world of librarianship, it was not too long ago that the term “Special Collections” would’ve passed through the air over my head with no recognition and no further consideration.
Last fall, Milne Library staff distributed a survey on library tables asking students why and how they used Milne Library spaces. We also asked students for suggestions about how the spaces could be improved. We are grateful to those of you who took the time to fill out the survey and turn it in – your responses will help us plan future improvements to the library.
We received 456 responses, pretty evenly distributed among the three floors of the library.
Overall, students are hard at work in our library. Students spend their time doing homework, studying, writing and working on projects. Smaller numbers of students are visiting with friends, eating lunch or passing time on the internet (mostly in association with more serious endeavors).
Students choose seats based on their particular studying needs. While many students indicated that they need to concentrate (and selected spaces on the third floor as a result), others needed to be around people or needed space to spread out. In some cases, students selected space out of necessity – it was the only spot available. Some students suggested that the comfortable seating was great for naps, while others used the comfy chairs for intense reading.
One of the biggest complaints (in certain areas) was the lack of power outlets. As we renovate new areas, we will endeavor to add power. This isn’t cheep, however, and requires extensive prior planning. Our 50 year old building wasn’t equipped to handle modern power demands, so most additional power outlets require upgrades to our electrical network.
The survey responses provided us with several locations where additional power outlets would be appreciated the most.
Students also identified areas where outlets or study carrel lights weren’t working, and we are working hard to make the necessary repairs.
Suggestions and changes:
We got some great feedback on the type of tables students like. With a few dissenters, students really don’t like the new Y-shaped tables on the main floor. A few even tried to explain why:
We won’t be buying more of those.
Students also recommended filling spaces with a variety of table sizes, in order to avoid problems when one person takes up a table intended for six. We intend to remodel some spaces on the lower level of Milne this summer, and we are taking these suggestions into account when ordering tables.
In areas where students had access to whiteboards, they expressed how much they like them. As a result, we will be looking for places to add additional whiteboards (as money allows).
There were a few suggestions that we won’t be able to accommodate. We won’t be adding a fourth floor or getting a new building any time soon (unfortunately). We will not be adding a hot tub, an open bar, a bouncy castle or a taco bell. While turning the library into a TARDIS (bigger on the inside) would help with our not-enough-space issues, our technical staff (while extraordinary) have not quite figured out how to do this. Sorry.
It is a commonly heard story on campus that students are feeling the pressure when it comes to textbook prices. Anecdotally, librarians and faculty have heard about many students’ dropping or avoiding classes because they cannot afford the required texts — not because of content, interest or availability. Next week, Milne Library will be holding a series of events related to the open access movement and how we can redefine the impact of free and open resources on higher education.
How do textbook prices impact college students?
We do know that nationally, students bear a high cost to attend college, but how much do textbook costs factor into these budgets? In 2012, the Florida Student Textbook Survey was conducted by the Florida Virtual Campus (a network of public colleges in Florida). The researchers interviewed over 20,000 students from all 11 of Florida’s state universities.
Among the many survey goals, officials wanted to find out how much Florida students spent on textbooks during the Spring 2012 semester; the frequency with which students buy new textbooks; how students are affected by the cost of textbooks; what formats students prefer; and additionally, what students’ perceptions of the availability of textbooks in their institutions’ libraries actually is.
In brief, the researchers found several trends:
Textbook costs continue to take a toll on students financially and academically
Students use various means to reduce costs of textbooks, including purchasing books from a source other than the campus bookstore, renting textbooks, purchasing used books, selling their used books, and using copies on reserve at the campus library
Some institutions’ libraries provide textbooks for checkout, extending a lifeline to students who cannot afford to purchase a textbook
How Geneseo students feel about textbooks
Much of this was seen in our own informal polling of our students. During the Spring 2012 semester, we conducted a brief survey to gage the attitudes of SUNY Geneseo students toward textbook prices. Though the response rate was small, we did receive some candid feedback:
“Sometimes, it makes me not want to take a class. I’m somewhat funding myself, so high costs of textbooks are a deciding factor for me.” — Sophomore
“Forced to get old outdated versions where the page numbers dont match up because buying the right/new version is too expensive.” — Junior
“I have to really think ahead and plan ahead to make sure I will have the money to buy my textbooks. There have been classes I haven’t taken because the cost of the textbooks has been too high for me to afford.” — Junior
“It is very expensive to buy textbooks. Generally my professors are honest about whether or not we will use the text during class, but sometimes I go through a whole semester without even opening it. Textbook buy-back stinks because I barely get a fraction of what I initially paid. Basically, it is an incredibly expensive addition to the already incredibly expensive cost of furthering my education. “ — Junior
“I had a work study job this year to cover various expenses, but with the costs of textbooks, I rarely had cash to spend. My parents are helping pay for my college education and they too are financially strained by how expensive the textbooks can be in addition to everything else we need to pay for.” — Freshman
Milne Library can’t do it alone
In an effort to mitigate some of the burden of purchasing textbooks, Milne Library has developed a Textbooks on Reserve collection. Currently, the collection consists of 787 unique titles — that’s roughly 72% of the unique titles assigned by faculty for the Fall 2013 semester. Although some of the titles were already in our collection, we rely heavily upon donations from faculty and students in order to stay current. Why? Because we simply cannot afford to buy the latest edition of each textbook every year.
Our Textbook on Reserve collection also has limited reach. In order to ensure that as many students as possible can access the collection, students can only check out one book at a time for 4 hours. Since we often only have one or two copies of a book, not every student can access a copy when they need it most: often the night before an assignment is due.
Some students also try to borrow their textbooks through Information Delivery Services (IDS). However, this also has limitations. Many libraries do not allow us to borrow textbooks through interlibrary loan. We are often forced to borrow older or alternate editions. As with all materials we borrow from other libraries, due dates are often limited to 4-6 weeks — meaning students have to return the items before the end of the semester.
Where do we go from here?
We want to know your thoughts. Please respond to our blog post with your comments – how do textbook prices impact your educational experience at Geneseo? What are some strategies or alternatives used to avoid buying a textbook?
Every year, GREAT Day (Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement & Talent Day) marks a college-wide symposium celebrating the creative and scholarly endeavors of our students.
For the past several years, SUNY Geneseo has published the conference proceedings of the GREAT Day presentations held every April. The proceedings are designed to be a student-led publication, compiled and edited by a series of student editors and originally advised by Dr. E. Richie VanVliet of the Languages & Literatures department. In 2011 the publication found a home in Milne Library when Dr. Van Vliet retired. Since the 2011 Proceedings, Milne Library has worked with two wonderful student editors, Stephanie Iasiello and Amy Bishop, to compile and edit the student work from GREAT Day presentations and poster sessions. In the spring of every year, the Library publishes the edited proceedings of the previous year’s event.
Beginning in 2009, the Proceedings were published in print through the Amazon CreateSpace platform, and in 2011, the Proceedings were also made open access and freely available electronically through Milne’s journal publishing platform, Open Journal Systems (OJS). http://ojs.geneseo.edu
Student submissions for the 2013 Proceedings are in the process of being reviewed for publication — you still have time to contribute your paper! Submitting is easy, and instructions are found on our website. Please contact the GREAT Day Proceedings journal managers (Daniel Ross, Academic Excellence Librarian [email protected] or Allison Brown, Editor & Production Manager [email protected]) for more information.
Perhaps you’ve noticed some regular faces here in Milne Library? We’re talking about our interns, Ellen and Melissa!
The Fall 2012 semester was the second opportunity for Milne Library to welcome Interns from SUNY Geneseo’s L.I.V.E.S. Program. The L.I.V.E.S. ProgramSM (Learning Independence, Vocational and Educational Skills) Mission Statement:
To provide an opportunity for students with intellectual and/or other developmental disabilities to learn independence, vocational skills, and functional educational (academic) skills within an inclusive educational community supported by university students, educators, administrators, and community leaders.
Ellen and Melissa are working with Service Desk Students and Staff and the Staff reports they have enjoyed the experience tremendously. Ellen has been partnering with Coleen Hopkins scanning, organizing and re-shelving while Melissa has been under the direction of Mary Fran Tiede at the Service Desk. Melissa does check-in/check-out, retrieving Reserve and IDS materials, etc. Patty Hoffman has also been instrumental in working with both students. Normally the L.I.V.E.S. Interns spend one semester in a position but we are pleased to have both students return for the Spring 2013 Semester.
Ellen and Melissa have each written an article in The LIVES Program News and Updates newsletter about their internships at Milne Library. Take a look at the Fall 2012 issue on the L.I.V.E.S. webpage.
~ written by Colleen Hopkins
Amanda used the free open source digital content platform Omeka to create an online catalog of the rock samples used to teach petrology, the study of the origin and composition of rocks. The Omeka platform is quite versatile and has been used for many digital library projects around the world.
In her GSA presentation, Amanda described how the new catalog can be searched by rock name, time period or description. Users can also browse individual rock suites and can find samples from particular locations by selecting locations on a map.
In the future, this online collection can be used by teachers and students to create custom collections of materials and make direct connections between rocks in the Geneseo collection and the geoscience literature.
Dr. Dori Farthing (Geological Sciences) and Bonnie Swoger (Milne Library) served as advisors on the project, with technical assistance from Milne Library’s Corey Ha and Joe Easterly.
Are you taking advantage of one of Milne Library’s best kept secrets? The Reference (or Research) Librarians at SUNY Geneseo frequently hear from their professorial partners, as well as campus tour guides, that we are a gem to be discovered and utilized heavily. They compare (and praise) our level of service to that of past experiences they have had at other (many times, distinguished) universities. But don’t take your professors’ word for it! See just what your classmates and peers have to say.
Sparked by Fall 2011 observations of students in need of research help at the Service Desk and Reference Desk, Anna Wilson, a recently graduated Spanish major with a minor in Latin American Studies, interviewed and filmed fellow students regarding their awareness and experience with Milne Library’s Research Librarians. In anticipation of her participant observation study, she wrote,”I predict that many of the students in the library are as in the dark about what goes on at the reference desk as I was until this (Fall 2011) semester.”
Does this statement represent your awareness about who the Reference Librarians are and what we can help you with? If so, be sure to watch Anna’s video and then come see us when you are in need of research help!
Reference Librarians are on duty for nearly all hours that the library is open with official desk duty in the Center for Academic Excellence from 10 am – 5 pm (Mon-Thurs), 10 am – 2 pm (Fri) and 10 am – 2 pm (Sat) and on-call reference assistance as early as 8 am and as late as 1 am. Just ask for help at the Service Desk and a librarian will be around to help.
Additionally, our very popular Research Consultation service (as well as our Technology Consultation service) offers students the opportunity to make one-on-one appointments with a specialist when the time is convenient for you or you and your group. Both services offer a dedicated time slot to focus solely on your research project needs, without having to compete with other students’ questions.
As the due dates for your research projects approach and the semester gets busier and busier, see what assistance (and time savings) a Reference Librarian can offer you!