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Articles: Libraries

We hear it all the time—complaints about the inefficiency of public higher education in Massachusetts. These complaints are often based on the incorrect assumption that providing students with a choice—the choice of where, when, and what to study is necessarily inefficient. How do we provide choice in an efficient way? I’ll answer that from my corner of public higher education.  

The Ringling College of Art and Design’s campus in Sarasota, Florida, has given the Alfred R. Goldstein library its own three-story structure in the heart of the campus.

As the trend in active learning classrooms has accelerated internationally, colleges in the U.S. can learn from the cutting-edge classroom design and technology that other countries have built.

Improving space utilization is a goal on every campus, with data analysis tools and software key to many efforts. Ultimately, there are different cases for different spaces.

Like many other institutions, Cornell University participates in an interlibrary loan system for faculty, staff and students.

Borrow Direct (borrowdirect.org) went live in 1999 after founding institutions Columbia, Penn and Yale partnered with the Research Libraries Group to develop the program for “Ivy Plus” institutions.

Besides the three initial universities and Cornell, participants are Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard, University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Duke, Princeton and Stanford.

STACKS UPON STACKS—Cornell and Ithaca students not finding what they need in their home campus libraries can now visit the neighboring school for more options.

Sharing resources among campuses makes sense for more than economical reasons, as colleges are finding these opportunities can better serve busy students.

Ronald K. Machtley is president of Bryant University in Rhode Island.

What’s more important in higher education: preparing for a profession or attaining a well-rounded liberal arts education? The answer is that in today’s world both are critical.

Kelly Cannon is the outreach and scholarly communication librarian at Muhlenberg College.

In the fall of 2015, Muhlenberg College President John Williams asked if I would teach a copyright law course to interested undergraduate students.

Many colleges and universities are investing millions of dollars to repurpose or even expand libraries to make room for collaborative learning, technology centers, dining areas, research support and other academic services.

Incorporating the local: A four-story atrium in Salisbury University’s 224,000-square-foot, $117 million library features a grand staircase with the silhouette of Chesapeake Bay crabs that was designed to echo colors of the nearby ocean.

While 98 percent of librarians in a 2015 Gale/Library Journal survey wished for better communication with faculty, only 45 percent of faculty expressed the same wish.

This gap presents both a challenge and an opportunity for libraries to make a case for their usefulness to faculty, in both their teaching and scholarship.

To promote faculty use of the library, Salisbury University in Maryland created a dedicated Faculty Center, including comfortable spaces and conference rooms to foster interaction among professors and instructors across disciplines.

Many higher ed librarians say they have found new ways to navigate the journal-subscription system.

Librarians and their advocates are also pushing for systemic change: a transition away from the subscription-based model of scholarly communication and toward open access. This transition to free availability of published research is one librarians say university administrators should work to accelerate.

To academic librarians, the serials crisis—the budget squeeze caused by the rising cost of subscriptions to scholarly journals—is old news.

Library spending on serials rose 402 percent between 1986 and 2012, according to the Association of Research Libraries, and costs for individual subscriptions rose by an average of 12 percent over the past two years alone, a Library Journal survey found. 

Five years ago, a researcher in Kazakhstan frustrated at the inaccessibility and cost of so many scholarly journals launched Sci-Hub, a website that today provides quick, free access to 47 million articles, often by illegally bypassing paywalls.

A recent article in Science found that in a single six-month period, Sci-Hub received requests for a staggering 28 million papers.

To the publishers whose copyrights are being subverted, Sci-Hub is nothing but piracy.

Health insurance, along with everything from faculty recruitment to information technology, is one of the emerging areas of shared services that regional consortia are now tackling. Their success in saving money and improving efficiencies has fueled a wave of new collaborations.

Colleges or universities looking to join a higher education consortium have two major options: alliances that are regionally based or those focused on a common goal.

Schools that choose to participate in a regional consortium have the advantage of being able to easily meet with other members to discuss common issues.

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