New GIS librarian Amanda Tickner leads an aerial photography workshop.
Twenty New Librarians over Five Years
In 2011, the university demonstrated its commitment to expanding library services by funding 20 new librarian positions. These positions, which were actively discussed among library divisions and designed to meet areas of existing and emerging need, were hired over a period of five years, from 2012 to 2016. As a result, the Libraries enthusiastically expanded expertise and services in the areas of entrepreneurship, GIS, digital humanities and digital scholarship, rare materials conservation, makerspace services, serious gaming, health sciences, and information literacy. It's difficult to estimate the accumulated benefit to the campus community of these expansions, but patrons are already seeing positive outcomes.
To orient new librarians to the organization, the Libraries created a New Librarians Roundtable where cohorts meet once a month to discuss a variety of topics, learn from guest speakers, and connect with their fellow new librarians. Co-facilitators are there to answer questions and fill in the gaps related to library practice and culture. In all, library workflows and services have been greatly enriched by the diversity of new perspectives and expertise gained from these added positions.
The Muslim Journeys Book Club attracts participants from on and off-campus. Our live bat program drew over 150 people. Therapy dogs and other events during finals week draw many students.
New librarians and campus collaborations have resulted in expanded library programming. From the Muslim Journeys Book Club which took place over several years and featured grant-funded books and world-class faculty facilitators, to the wildly successful live bat program with the MSU Science Festival, more people are coming to library events. During finals week, thousands of students enjoy free snacks, coffee and pet therapy.
Faculty Delivery and Faculty Book Purchase Program
In 2013, we publicly launched the Faculty/Staff Delivery service to deliver library's physical items directly to faculty and staff's campus offices for free, in order to save them a trip to the library. In the same year, we launched a patron-driven acquisition program where we fast-track purchases of new books based on faculty's recommendations. Now, we deliver roughly 2,500 items to campus offices a year and the numbers keep climbing.
In 2010, we launched the MSU Article Retrieval Service (MARS) which provides free scanning service for non-electronic library materials to MSU faculty, staff and graduate students. In 2015, the service expanded to serve all MSU affiliates including undergraduate students. Now, we deliver roughly 3,000 scans a year to patrons' electronic devices with an average turnaround time of two days, saving patrons both time and cost on making scans.
In 2012, we launched the UBorrow system in collaboration of the other Big Ten Academic Alliance (formerly the Committee on Institutional Cooperation) libraries to provide campus with fast and reliable access to over 90 million books that these top research universities own collectively. Now, we deliver roughly 5,000 items a year to MSU patrons via this program.
Librarian Joshua Sanchez is the newest member of the MSUL User Experience team.
Improving User Experience
User experience is a movement to transform the MSU Libraries, applying a grassroots approach to develop and sustain a user-centric, data-influenced culture for continuous improvement of our spaces, services, and collections. Applying user experience principles lessens confusion, promotes an intuitive experience, and adds impact and value for the user, all important considerations when competing for users' time and attention. User Experience was introduced formally to the MSU Libraries in 2013. First, the User Experience Work Group was formed to improve collaboration on various disparate projects.
Then, with the hiring of a User Experience & Assessment Librarian, a new position, User Experience became an official unit within the Public Services division in 2014. Since its formation, this new unit has taken an active and leading role in improving spaces and services including but not limited to website usability improvements, space enhancements, and most recently, the implementation of a digital signage and wayfinding system in the Main Library. Users remain the core of our existence and the application of user experience ensures that the MSU Libraries stay relevant to the institution and its community at large.
One of the MSU Libraries’ new digital wayfinding signs.
In September 2016, the MSU Libraries deployed an extensive digital signage and wayfinding system, consisting of 27 signs located throughout the Main Library and Business Library. The project was extensive and multidimensional, taking 15 months from the Request for Proposal (RFP) to initial deployment and involving library staff from various units, such as User Experience, Graphic Services, Systems, and Facilities.
The Libraries' digital signage sets the bar in visual communication at MSU in several ways. As a wayfinding system, visitors are not only more easily able to locate our services and information on every floor of the Main Library, but our stacks locator tool helps people find books by mapping them to a specific range of shelving. The digital signage also provides a point-of-need reservation system for the Collaborative Technology Labs (CTLs) and gaming rooms. Interactive monitors posted outside of each CTL area display room availability and allow MSU affiliates to authenticate with their NetID and reserve a space using the touch screen.
This project served as a successful pilot case for the implementation of policies, standards, and accessibility requirements established by the MSU Digital Signage Guidelines for visual communication. Leading by example, the Libraries' digital signage is the largest-scale, vendored, interactive wayfinding system on MSU's campus to date and has been highlighted by campus partners at national conferences.
Social media connections on the rise. (Figures as of January 2017)
In the past 10 years, social media channels like Facebook and Twitter have exploded. As a result, the MSU Libraries communications strategy has transformed in the last 10 years. Social media allows us to interact and engage with our library users like never before, and with that, social media has become a customer service tool. Looking into the future, it will be important for us to remain agile and open to joining new channels. As new platforms emerge, we will continue to ask “Is our audience here?” and “What are our objectives?” As these channels continue to evolve, it is likely we will see growth in virtual and augmented reality, for an even more radically interactive social media.
The Children's and Young Adult Literature Collection's Pinterest boards.
A New Children's Literature Collection
The Children's and Young Adult Literature Collection was created in January 2014 after the library received a $20,000 grant from the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives. The collection is small but continues to grow steadily at about 2500 books, and the content is focused around diverse and international literature including foreign languages. At 95% circulation, it is the most widely circulated collection in the library (twice as much as the second most circulated materials). It serves the needs of the MSU's first-in-the-country Teacher Education program as well as other students, staff, and faculty and our larger Michigan patron community.
In 2013 - 2014 alone, librarians conducted 698 instruction sessions and workshops, reaching a total of 32,221 people.
Teaching and Learning
Information literacy librarians at MSU work to connect students with the wealth of information available to them through the MSU Libraries. From helping students in first-year writing enter into scholarly conversations in their fields, to helping non-science majors consider scientific merit in news coverage of scientific studies, to helping unearth primary historical sources for students in James Madison College, we provide introduction points for students to explore and discover knowledge. We are committed to supporting MSU's undergraduate learning outcomes of analytical thinking and integrated reasoning through our collaborative work with instructors across campus.
Photo from a "Bias Busters" event. A Black Lives Matter display in the Main Library.
As a central space for dialogue and resources about diversity, the library has played a key role in developing programming and exhibits to advance a culture of inclusion at MSU. In 2015, the library received a Community Crossroads Award in recognition of our work to support the MSU Project 60/50 initiative which facilitates ongoing conversation about civil and human rights.
A few sample digitized items from MSU's Radicalism collection, now also a part of SiRO.
Radicalism Symposium and SiRO
The library welcomed national leaders in the study of radicalism to campus to inaugurate Studies in Radicalism Online (SiRO), an online portal dedicated to bringing together radicalism resources from around the world. The keynote speaker was Tim McCarthy, founding director of Harvard's Sexuality, Gender & Human Rights Program at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.
Left to right: Recent exhibits on the History of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty Research, and books imagined as Hogwarts magical textbooks.
With four major exhibit spaces and several smaller displays, exhibits play an important part in promoting the collections and services of the Libraries by bringing them to the attention of the University community and visitors. Exhibits focus on topics consistent with the scholarly and cultural concerns of the University. Our exhibits showcase material from our collection, including Special Collections, and are often turned into online exhibits where they can be enjoyed for longer.
Past exhibits include everything from Back to Hogwarts (which was exhibited twice, in 2013 and 2015 due to its popularity) to an exhibit on the history of equine veterinary medicine, to items from Special Collections which have been used in faculty research. Occasionally, the Main Library also has short-term "pop up" exhibits, such as the Pokemon items on display last summer.
Enraptured DH learners at LEADR.
Digital Humanities Workshop Series
One way the MSU Libraries have contributed to the campus DH community is through the Digital Humanities Workshop series. Workshops are frequently hosted by the library, often taught by librarians, and co-organized with the College of Arts and Letters and LEADR. The series started in Fall semester 2014, and has continued to offer roughly five workshops a semester, on topics such as textual analysis, data visualization, programming with Python or R, and many more.
The lifecycle of data.
Increasingly rigorous mandates from granting agencies like the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Endowment for the Humanities have raised the bar for data transparency, sharing, and management of federally funded research projects. The library offers one-on-one guidance for faculty developing data management strategies as well as assistance interpreting federal, state and campus policies.
Course-created web site by Digital Humanities Seminar students, aided by their embedded librarian.
The library is a valuable partner for faculty and students who are interested in, or already incorporating, digital methods into their research, teaching, and learning. We offer a variety of services—from one-on-one training and collaboration, to in-classroom workshops—on topics such as text and data mining, geographic information systems (GIS), digital scholarship pedagogy, and research data management (RDM), among others.
In addition, we have worked hands-on with stakeholders on a number of collaborative partnerships involving: purchasing and acquiring data sets for research; curating and cleaning data; implementing metadata standards; utilizing digital humanities techniques; starting and managing digital projects; and more.
Kasey Wilson, GIS Specialist, consults with a student.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
In the last ten years GIS has broadened greatly to become a research methodology of interest to all disciplines and skill levels. Our GIS Services Team, based in the MSU Map Library, supports this burgeoning field with regularly scheduled workshops, consultations, searching for datasets, project troubleshooting, and map creation.
Digital Scholarship Collaborative
The Digital Scholarship Collaborative is an experts network that offers offers advice, support, and collaborative partnerships for students, faculty, and staff working on digital projects and initiatives at MSU. DSC was founded in 2013 to bring together services and experts working in the areas of research data management, digital repositories, digital humanities and geographic information systems.
MSU Libraries offer plenty of fodder for "distant reading," that is, computationally enabled analysis of text.
To provide resources for researchers and instructors interested in engaging with computational research, the library has realized a new role for its collections—rich data sets for text and data mining. From the metadata that describes library materials, and therefore also describes something of the social circumstances of their creation, to the raw text of a myriad of collections, the library houses just the sort of "big data" that is ripe for large-scale analysis or "distant reading." These datasets, along with those acquired from vendors, make up the libraries’ Humanities Data Page.
This course guide was developed for a social work course.
LibGuides and LibCal
In 2009, the MSU Libraries implemented LibGuides, a content management system, to create course and research guides. We currently have 887 published guides sharing information and access to subject-specific and interdisciplinary resources for course work and research.
In 2016, LibCal was implemented as the Library Events calendar and as the room reservation system for the Collaborative Technology Labs (CTLs). For events, LibCal serves as a promotion and registration system for library-sponsored workshops. For the CTLs, LibCal provides a way to display room availability on digital signs and allows point-of-need, self-serve reservations for MSU affiliates.
The first kick-off meeting was held on October 10, 2014 at the Michigan State University Libraries, and the inaugural Michigan Academic Library Association Conference took place at Central Michigan University's Park Library in Mt. Pleasant on Thursday & Friday, May 12 & 13, 2016. This organization is becoming a valuable venue for librarians wishing to focus more narrowly on academic library issues and has provided the foundation for some new scholarly activity in Michigan librarianship.
Conversation at a 2016 MMDP gathering at MSU.
Mid-Michigan Digital Practitioners
The Mid-Michigan Digital Practitioners community is a grassroots collective of librarians, archivists, museum curators, conservators, historians, scholars and more engaged in creating and curating digital collections in Mid-Michigan and the surrounding region. Founded in 2013 through a collaboration between the MSU Libraries and the University Archives & Historical Collections, the group has held 7 conferences in the past 3 years and was recently awarded the NDSA Award for an Innovative Organization.
ARL Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce site visit, 2017 (pictured)
Facilities improvements have greatly expanded our ability to host regional, state, and national library conferences and symposia. In the past decade, MSU Libraries has planned and hosted the following conferences:
ARL Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce site visit 2015, 2016, and 2017 (pictured)
CIC Center for Library Initiatives Conference (now called the Big 10 Academic Alliance) 2011
Code4Lib Midwest 2012
Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries, 2014
Library Access Midwest Program (LAMP) 2010
Michigan Academic Libraries Association 2014
Michigan Council of Library Directors (COLD) 2011 and 2014
Michigan Library Association Academic Libraries Conference 2014
Mid-Michigan Digital Practitioners 2013 and 2016
Midwest Guild of Book Workers, 2007 and 2016
Print to Digital Workshop 2013
Technical Services: Outside the Box 2007
Africana Librarian Wins Distinguished Faculty Award
Africana librarian Dr. Peter Limb was one of ten MSU faculty members to receive the 2012 Distinguished Faculty Award. Since his arrival at the MSU Libraries in 2001, Dr. Limb greatly expanded what was already an internationally recognized Africana collection. Dr. Limb focuses on acquiring unique materials and has emphasized primary resources, new media, and nontrade materials. Through the contacts he cultivated with vendors and scholars and through trips to Africa and Europe, many rare or poorly distributed resources, such as dissertations from African universities, have been acquired.
Dr. Limb also serves as adjunct faculty in the Department of History, teaching both undergraduate courses and graduate seminars, and serving on the dissertation committees of doctoral students working in South African history. Dr. Limb's many publications include a major work on the early history of the African National Congress and a biography of Nelson Mandela. With MSU Professor of History Peter Alegi, Limb hosts Africa Past and Present,a series of freely downloadable podcasts on MATRIX. This cutting-edge cross-disciplinary broadcast reaches a worldwide audience and features interviews and discussions with key scholars on all areas of African studies. (Insight, May 2012, page 6).
Holly Flynn presents on the Libraries' finals week activities at the Library Marketing and Communications Conference.
Notable Presentations & Publications by Librarians
Librarians contribute much to the scholarly landscape. Whether publishing in a variety of venues, including peer-reviewed journals and books, or presenting at the local, state, national and international levels, MSU librarians share their expertise and shape the profession. This is a short, selective list of accomplishments—a decade of academic achievements would be very lengthy, indeed.
DeJoy, Nancy, Sara Miller and Benjamin Oberdick (2013). RAIDS for Research. In B. Bloom & M. Deyrup (Eds.), Successful Strategies for Teaching Undergraduate Research (137-154). Toronto: Scarecrow Press.
Kendall, Susan, and Monsoff-Richards, Mari (2015). Training a new librarian in the what, how, where, and why of health sciences collections management. Proceedings of the Charleston Library Conference. doi:10.5703/1288284316246
Marcyk, Emilia and Benjamin Oberdick. (2017). Peer Research Assistant Program at Michigan State University. In E. Rinto, R. Mitola & J. Watts (Eds.), Peer-Assisted Learning in Academic Libraries. New York: Libraries Unlimited.
Mooney, Hailey, Collie, Aaron, Nicholson, Shawn, & Sosulski, M. (2014). Research data management: Collaborative approaches and undergraduate curriculum development. Advances in Social Work, 15(2), 1-22.
Teper, J. H., Alstrom, Eric, and Association for Library Collections & Technical Services, Preservation and Reformatting Section (2012). Planning and constructing book and paper conservation laboratories: A guidebook. Chicago: Preservation and Reformatting Section, Association for Library Collections and Technical Services.
Unsworth, Mike., Kendall, Susan K. and Ostrom, Kriss (2012). From Grass Roots to Vital Player: Michigan State University's Library Environmental Committee. In Antonelli, A., and McCullough, M. (Eds.), Greening Libraries. Library Juice Press.
Shortridge, Ashton, Kirk Goldsberry, and Kathleen Weessies (2011). Measuring Research Data Uncertainty in the 2010 NRC Assessment of Geography Graduate Education. Journal of Geography 110(6), 219-226. doi: 10.1080/00221341.2011.607510
Chua, Hui Hua and Bruce Sarjeant. Michigan regionals in transition: timeline and perspectives, Depository Library Council Meeting, Washington, DC, October 2011.
Flynn, Holly. From Zero to Thousands in One Semester: Fueling a Successful Finals Week Campaign, Library Marketing and Communications Conference, Addison, TX, November 2016.
Margolis, Deborah. and Emily Treptow. Reaching Your Community via Social Media: Academic Libraries and Librarians Using Facebook and Twitter for Outreach, 1st International Conference on E-Publishing, Amman, Jordan, July 2015.
Miller, Sara, Nancy DeJoy, Benjamin Oberdick, Rachel Minkin, Jill Morningstar, Joyce Meier, and Brian Hollcomb. Reframing Open Access as a Ground for Embedded Information Literacy Instruction. Panel. Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC). Indianapolis, IN, March 2014.
Nicholson, Shawn and Bennett, T.B. The good news about bad news: Communicating data services to cognitive misers, International Association for Social Science Information Service and Technology, Bergen, Norway, June 2016.
Robinson, Lisa. Moving from OCLC to Skyriver: The Experience of Michigan State University, ALCTS Heads of Cataloging Interest Group, ALA Midwinter, Boston, MA, 2010.
Rodriguez, Michael. Libraries, Data, and DH: Creating and Operationalizing a Library Unit to meet the Collaborative Needs of Scholars, Digital Humanities Congress, Sheffield England, 2014.
Weessies K. and K. Wilson. The long road to map discovery: Two multi-institutional projects. Digital Approaches to Cartographic Heritage, Riga, Latvia, April 21, 2016.