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Saturday, June 24, 2006

E-resources, front and center!

For the past month (and for two months to come), my library is in an intriguing situation. After a lengthy addition of a new roof during the spring (the smell of tar does get to you after a while), we have been forced to abandon the library for the summer while we get a new HVAC system and a new ceiling (all new ductwork). We've set up a small library access center in a room just off of our main computer lab (which is on the lower level of the library, but they have their own HVAC system - go figure).

Anyway, it brings our e-resources front and center, since there is no "library" to browse around in. We're still accessing the collection twice per day (so the ability of patrons to self-request items to be pulled from the collection has been huge) and shelving periodicals (they have to go somewhere). But everything is under plastic sheeting, and the library staff are camping out in a trailer.

We're just out back of the library (so it was easy to run networking and phone lines out to us), and we can still get into our back workroom for the bathroom. We'll be happy to have it over, but it will be worth it.

It has been interesting to let people know about upcoming changes and see their reactions. Many users already access our resources remotely, and so there is no big change. A few patrons (even though it's summer) are really dependent on the "in-person" experience and drop by the assistance center quite a bit. Most common are folks who are used to accessing us from home or their offices on campus, but every now and then just like to drop by to browse or grab a particular periodical. Everyone is surviving, but it does give me a new perspective on what the library might become (everything physical in storage; some sort of place for people to gather and interact with library staff; vast amounts of use of e-resources as a first choice. Maybe that's already happening.

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