Monday, November 7, 2011

Anecdotes from Textbook Reserves

While I was away, there were a few developments with the textbooks on reserve project. I thought they were worth mentioning here.

First, I won't be presenting or writing formally about the project anytime soon. This makes me a bit sad, as I like to spread the good news in libraryland. But I'm not sure what we could say. We have no budget and little administrative backing (gratitude is a different matter). It seems like the participating businesses could change their minds tomorrow, and the service would be over. It is clearly unsustainable the way it is, plus everywhere I look I see evidence of a sea change as course materials go online. 

In fact, a common refrain from students using the textbooks is "Why can't I download this online, for free?" This is a good illustration of the tendency among students to equate online with gratis, and although I don't see it happening, especially under the purview of textbook publishers, the expectation is there, and they may at least get half of what they wish for at some point soon.   

Another trend is that students taking online classes expect support from our physical library. Most recently, a student living in Camden and taking a class online expected the book at our Camden campus location. We have a sharing agreement with Rutgers Camden, but the Blackwood campus is the primary location for the college, and we did have the book at the Blackwood library. This was apparently insufficient for the student. I should figure out how to capture this as data -- it would be interesting to have numbers showing how much we are supporting the online classes. 

We've also had a couple of thefts, one where it seemed the person walked straight through the security gates. What's that saying in libraryland, about how stolen books are the highest praise for your collection?

But as the end of the semester approaches, overall I'm still satisfied that we're providing a popular service to the college community.

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