3.8.1

3.8.1

The institution provides facilities and learning/information resources that are appropriate to support its teaching, research, and service mission. (Learning /information resources)

Narrative:

University Library

In consonance with Appalachian State University's "fundamental mission [1] . . . to discover, create, transmit, and apply knowledge to address the needs of individuals and society," the mission [2] of the University Library is "to assist those who pursue knowledge."  The facilities, resources, and services of the University Libraries strongly support these parallel missions.

Facilities

The five-story Belk Library & Information Commons opened in 2005.  The facility is 165,000 square feet and has 480 computer workstations for students (both Mac and PC).  Floor plans [3] online and on display throughout the building indicate the location of group study rooms, emergency exits, and materials in the stacks.

Wireless access is available throughout, with a secure login for users affiliated with Appalachian and a visitor login for other users.  The building has general seating for 1,864 library users, with 29 group study rooms.  The entire building is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.  In addition, the first floor has an Assistive Technology Room for patrons with disabilities [4].  The equipment and software in this room provide alternate format access to library materials for users with vision, hearing, learning, and/or mobility related disabilities.  (More on resources for students with disabilities appears in CS 3.4.9)

The Digital Media Studio [5] (DMS), on the third floor, provides tools and expertise for student and faculty video, audio, and design-related projects.  The DMS staff and student employees receive ongoing training to enable them to meet the technical learning needs of content creators, from novice to professional level.  The DMS also offers checkout of sophisticated digital equipment [6].  The DMS is a high-use and high profile service, particularly among students.  When classes are in session, the DMS is open seven days a week; its longest hours are Monday through Thursday from 10 AM to 11 PM.  A full list of equipment and items available for checkout [7] is available on the DMS website.  

The Music Library [8] is Appalachian’s only branch library.  The 4,000-square-foot facility is located on the second floor of the Broyhill Music Center and supports the curriculum of the Mariam Cannon Hayes School of Music for almost 500 music majors.  It contains books, scores, and recordings.  Its annual gate count shows over 63,000 visitors. 

Learning/Information Resources

The Appalachian State University Library adheres to the ACRL Standards for Libraries in Higher Education in support of the mission of the University.   The Information Literacy Outcomes Assessment Plan [9] is an example of how the Library uses ACRL standards, in this instance to create an outcome-based plan to inform the Library's instruction program.  The highlighted standards are for the current (2010-2012) two-year assessment cycle.

The Library’s Strategic Plan articulates the vision [2] of the Library as follows:

Appalachian State University Library is a dynamic partner in the campus and distance learning communities, dedicated to the provision of full and equal access to information and the preservation of our intellectual and cultural heritage.  Our collections, portals to information and text, services, and instruction contribute to the campus missions of learning, scholarship, engagement, and effectiveness.  Our vision is to broaden the learning experience, to encourage creativity and scholarship at all levels, to deepen the campus engagement with the community and world, and to develop an effective organization that can meet current and future information needs.  These areas of learning, scholarship, engagement, and effectiveness are our four strategic directions.

Collections are discussed at length in the Strategic Plan, along with activities and assessment measures.  Most relevant to CS 3.8.1 is the following goal in the plan’s Learning section: “Create seamless access and remove barriers to collections and services. [10] ”  In support of this goal, the Library continues to expand its electronic resources in consonance with the growing needs of the University’s academic programs.  Librarians conduct usability studies (about five per year) and actively use the results to iteratively improve online access to materials and services.  The sample usability study shows [11] "actions to be taken" with a follow up of six months after the test was administered.  Usually after iterative changes have been made as a result of a usability test, parts of the test are re-administered to see if the changes improved the user's experience.  More information about the Library’s collections and how they are managed and assessed can be found in CR 2.9.   

Library Services

The Library provides a variety of instructional services, including online chat, one-on-one instruction, and classroom instruction.  More discussion of the Library’s reference and instruction services appears in CS 3.8.2.  

The gate count for the Belk Library & Information Commons was 1.26 million in 2010.  Since Appalachian’s total enrollment was 17,222 in Fall 2010, this gate count demonstrates that the building is heavily used.  Until the Fall of 2011, the building was open 24 hours a day, five days a week during fall and spring semesters, closing only Friday and Saturday nights.  Budget cuts in Fall 2011 forced the library to reduce its hours [12] to 104 per week during the fall and spring semesters, closing between 2 AM and 7:30 AM Monday through Thursday.  The Library worked with the Student Government Association (SGA) to determine what hours to cut, and on SGA's recommendation, remained open 24 hours during the exam periods in 2011- 2012.  

Large percentages of the Library’s resources are available electronically to users who are not present in the building.  Many resources are accessible through mobile devices, including the Library’s website, catalog, and most databases.

To support student collaboration, there are 29 group study rooms [13].  Seven of these rooms -- furnished with computers, LCD projectors, TVs, DVD players, and other equipment -- are designed to facilitate group work on multimedia projects.  The equipment in five of the multimedia group study rooms was updated in 2011 to include a 46" LCD screen and a control box allowing projection from up to four laptops.  Self-service online room booking, also added in 2011, has proven very popular with students.

Resources for international faculty and students, as well as for students studying abroad, are listed in online library guides [14].  The Library also provides international TV broadcasting.  The Window to the World [15] International Television Service enables students to view television broadcasts from other countries, in languages other than English (including Arabic, Mandarin, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and other European languages). This non-English programming benefits students studying the languages and cultures of other countries, as well as the growing number of students from other countries enrolled at Appalachian.

Distance-learning services

The Library has a five-member team dedicated [16] to serving the needs of distance education students.  The goal of this team is to ensure that distance education students have access to library materials and services that is equivalent to, or exceeds, what is available to on-campus students.  One example of an extended service is that the Distance Education and E-learning Library Services (DEELS) librarians will mail books to a student’s home, providing prepaid mailing envelopes for return.  The team also provides chat service and one-on-one research assistance specifically for distance education students through web conferencing.  The DEELS team participates actively in the virtual worlds created for online classes in the Reich College of Education. 

Appropriateness of Library Facilities and Services

LibQual+ is an internationally recognized survey used to solicit, track, understand, and act upon users' opinions of service quality.  The Library administered this survey in 2006, [17] 2008 [18], and 2011. [19]  The results demonstrate that users have very high perceptions of the level of service they receive, and that their satisfaction has increased over time [20].   

TracDat documentation [21] (2006-2012) provides an overview of the Library’s LibQual+ outcomes and other methods of assessment for facilities and services, including action or follow-up plans.  For example, the following areas were identified as needing improvement because LibQual+ 2008 results did not meet or exceed 95% of the desired level:

  1. Making electronic resources accessible from my home or office - 89%,
  2. A Library website enabling me to locate information on my own - 90%,
  3. Easy-to-use access tools that allow me to find needed information - 92%,
  4. Making information easily accessible for independent use - 93%,
  5. Ease of using library's online article indexes - 87%

To address these areas, the TracDat documentation lays out action plans, some of which have been implemented.  In 2009-2010, for example, the interlibrary loan interface was updated and improved; links within EBSCO databases to make interlibrary loan borrowing of articles not held by Appalachian was made more seamless by auto-populating the form; the Library's website became available via mobile devices;  and online selection of e-books was implemented.  The LibQual+ 2011 [22] results demonstrate improvement in these areas (see graphs on "Information Control" for patron responses to questions about access to collections electronically).

The NCES (National Center for Educational Statistics) American Libraries Survey 2010 Comparison with Peers [23] indicates that only one peer institution has more librarians and other professional staff per 1,000 FTE students than Appalachian.  In the University of North Carolina General Administration (UNC-GA) Sophomore 2010 [24] rating for library services, Appalachian is consistently ranked high in the UNC system in areas such as "helpfulness of staff."  The University of North Carolina General Administration (UNC-GA) Senior 1998-2008 [25] rating for library services overall reveals that regard for the Library has risen steadily between 1998 and 2010, with an average total score of 3.6 out 4, a very high rating.  

To help determine the appropriateness of services, the Library utilizes several advisory boards.  The University Library Advisory Council [26], comprised of directors of libraries from the UNC system, coordinates initiatives on the state level and develops cooperative agreements.  The Library Services Committee [27] is comprised of Appalachian students, faculty, and staff who serve as a sounding board for issues regarding Library services and policies.

The Library has two student advisory boards.  The Distance Learning Student Advisory Committee, [28] established in 2010, meets online twice a semester and gives advice on services for off-campus students.  The Belk Library Student Advisory Group [29] is a committee comprised of both undergraduate and graduate students who can serve one or two one-year terms.  They advise the Library on policies and services that affect on-campus students.