Michigan State University Libraries implemented the ProQuest Summon discovery tool on August 11, 2014. Locally known as SearchPlus, the tool's purpose is to facilitate searching across multiple platforms in order to increase the findability of library resources for users. This was the culmination of a long process involving proposals from several vendors, and engaging many taskforces, including promotion, training, and more. Since then, we have seen an overall increase in the usage of full-text content in almost all types of information.
A More Robust Catalog
Our catalog contains almost 9 million records as of 2017. For this catalog to remain functional and helpful to our patrons, the authorized forms of titles, names, and subjects must be clean and consistent. (These are the hyperlinks that appear in catalog records, which help users collocate other records with the same title or name or subject.) The task of maintaining this data, and the thousands of revisions and changes that must take place regularly, grew too big for manual work.
So in the summer and fall of 2016, the Libraries contracted with a vendor to run automated processes on our data on a monthly basis. This means that our data is cleaner, our catalog is updated more promptly with the most recent authorized versions of names and subjects and so forth, and our patrons can more easily discover our resources.
Bibliographic Framework Initiative (BIBFRAME)
Have you heard of the Semantic Web? MSUL catalogers have. Along with other leading institutions in our field, we're preparing for the next evolution of the internet by radically updating our standards and practices. In March 2013, we began cataloging under Resource Description and Access, a new and more flexible set of instructions for describing materials, whether books or streaming music or campaign t-shirts. RDA lets us record more details about and connections between entities—authors, titles, places, concepts, topics, contents, adaptations, compilations, editors, producers, actors, instrumentalists, and so on.
Next on our list is experimenting with BIBFRAME (an RDF ontology for library resources) and other linked data approaches for delivering richly interlinked and web-native descriptions of our resources. For the user, all these transitions mean that one day soon, the online catalog will behave a lot less like a paperbound card index and a lot more like Wikipedia.
Leader in Accessibility in Collections
The Libraries have actively and enthusiastically dedicated library staff and resources to improve the accessibility of library collections, services, and facilities. The Libraries' 5-year accessibility plan, accessibility purchasing procedures, remediation services, and leadership in Big Ten library accessibility initiatives illustrate our commitment to ensuring equal library access for all users.
Web Services designs, creates and maintains web-related content, services and applications for the MSU Libraries. As many patrons’ first experience with the Libraries is through the website, the work of Web Services (WS) is vitally important. In the past ten years, this unit has been extremely responsive to patrons’ needs, becoming a national leader in website accessibility, creating a mobile site in 2011, conducting usability studies in 2013, and beginning a campaign of iterative design. The Libraries’ website is massive—over 2,000 pages—so changes or redesigns like the ones undertaken in 2009 and again in 2013 with a Drupal implementation are huge projects.
WS is also tasked with taking products from vendors like Summon, LibGuides, or ILLiad and giving them a MSU Libraries look. Our collections are only valuable if patrons can find them, so WS also works on sites for many of our rare collections, like Artists’ Books, Caesar E. Chavez, Chicago Tribune, the Lockwood Collection of Romani Ethnology and Gypsy Stereotypes, the Richard Ford papers, and a variety of sites for the Turfgrass Information Center.
Movie genres represented in the Rovi Media Collection.
Because the Rovi Corporation earns revenue by providing high-quality, structured metadata to companies that sell or stream media, they were unable to give the library full metadata to accompany the donation of their physical archive. Instead, the Libraries received a set of basic data points for each CD and DVD, around which properly formatted catalog descriptions had to be constructed. To accomplish this, metadata librarian Lucas Mak created scripting processes that downloaded matching catalog records from a national database, created some records from scratch, and enhanced all of the resulting records to achieve the highest quality possible.
The resulting hundreds of thousands of records were then loaded into the public catalog so patrons at MSU and across the state could borrow Rovi albums and movies. Accomplishing so much metadata creation in a few short months was an enormous undertaking, but it paid dividends right away: the Libraries received hundreds of request for Rovi materials as soon as the records were visible in the catalog.
Resources and Services
Making progress with Scrum and Agile
The team working on the digital repository at MSUL has adopted agile project management techniques to improve communication inside the team and with stakeholders. The team is using a methodology called Scrum, which emphasizes working in short iterations to allow the team to frequently review and get feedback on their work. The team uses this feedback to make continual, incremental improvements that contribute to the library’s larger goals of managing and providing access to a complex collection of digital content.
Kline Digital and Multimedia Center
From analog to digital: The Kline Digital and Multimedia Center’s boutique style digitization operation grew its efforts providing high-touch, high-resolution, and full-color images to support immediate world-wide access and promote long-term stewardship of historical and contemporary cookbooks, photographs, pamphlets, posters, etc. Notably, the Center, in cooperation with the College of Communication Arts, acquired a rare DigiBook planetary-style scanner enabling high resolution, non-interpolated capture of poster size (A1) images. Proudly employing numerous student workers each semester, Center staff train and work alongside the students completing the finely detailed digitization and processing work in support of teaching, learning, and research.
Faculty find value in the Course Materials Program.
Since the last 10-year report, the university's course pack service, the Course Materials Program, has moved into the library realm. With all of the copyright concerns involved in course pack creation, this is a natural fit. Since coming to the Libraries, the Course Materials Program has evolved to include both print, electronic, and print-on-demand course packs. They now also offer a copyright permissions service for non-course pack related classroom needs, as well as a stable linking service for the library's electronic collections.
A student adds paper to the Espresso Book Machine.
The Libraries acquired an Espresso Book Machine (EBM) in 2007 and began an increasingly successful venture into self-publishing. The EBM, which creates full-color paperback books, has now printed over 2 million pages, including class compilations, dissertations, plays, genealogies and more. What's more, we developed a publishing service through which we are able to sell EBM reproductions of some of our Special Collections treasures, including early and rare cookbooks, medieval veterinary medicine texts, MSU history gems, and some faculty-written occasional papers. The EBM also sponsored two student writing projects: a student comic art anthology and a volume of collected essays about civil and human rights.
Students working in MakeCentral.
Hollander MakeCentral, an alternative learning environment and gathering space that encourages cross-discipline collaboration, experimentation and learning, opened in the library in 2015. Patrons make use of 3D printers, 3D scanning, laser and vinyl cutting, and lendable technology such as SparkFun Inventors Kit, Raspberry Pi, Makey Makey, FLORA GPS Kit, Balloon and Kite Mapping Kits, Structure Scanners, and camera equipment. Perhaps one of the largest and most used makerspaces on campus, MakeCentral has been used for many research projects, including 3D printed brains for a collaborative between the Neuroscience Lab and the MSU Museum.
Editing digital audio at a VVL work station.
The G. Robert Vincent Voice Library
The Vincent Voice Library continued to acquire and maintain classic audio and video recording and playback equipment throughout the decade in order to support the acquisition of sound actualities across the spectrum of recorded sound. From reel-to-reel tape decks and audio cassette players to sixteen-inch transcription disc turntables and wire recorders, staff kept the equipment going to insure that the information could be digitized and made available to the world.
In one case, a user was able to hear a recording of her 1951 wedding ceremony for the first time since the event, thanks to staff ingenuity and hard work. In another, the congregation of a Flint synagogue heard a recording of its original dedication ceremonies after Voice Library staff were able to play back and record a fragile sixteen-inch radio transcription disc which had not been heard for over sixty-five years. In a digital world, the Voice Library continues to collect and maintain the equipment necessary to link the analog past with the information needs of the modern user.
Since the beginning of Voice Library digitization at the turn of the century, over 25,000 sound files have been created, accounting for almost 6TB of space on MSU Library file servers. While many of these represent the ongoing effort to retrospectively digitize existing analog holdings, still others are new additions to the over 100,000 hours of sound recording in the collection which span every possible subject area. An increase in regular and student staff over the years has allowed the Voice Library to focus not only on recordings of national, campus and Library events, but to engage in robust collaborative projects with partners ranging from the National Archives to the Motorcities National Heritage Area and General Motors and the United Auto Workers to the University of Texas and the R.E. Olds Museum.
Most notably, the Voice Library created both the Lansing Autotown and the Women’s Overseas Service League galleries. The Lansing Autotown project is a collection of interviews with automobile production workers and the Women’s Overseas Service League gallery is made up of interviews with female armed services veterans who served in the nation’s global conflicts from World War I to the Gulf. The interviews were digitized and cataloged by the Voice Library, the bibliographic records added to the Libraries’ OPAC at the item level and a searchable database created to display the recordings and related ephemera. In both cases, Voice Library staff worked with unique items to bring the stories of unsung individuals to the world via the internet.
Students collaborating in the Map Library's CTL.
Collaborative Technology Labs
Over the past ten years, Collaborative Technology Labs (CTLs) have become some of the most used spaces in the library. There are eleven CTLs in the main library, and eight more in the Business Library, where they are incredibly popular spaces for business students to collaborate on projects.
Two new game rooms create a technology-enhanced space to complement the ROVI gaming collection, and we anticipate that a forthcoming Digital Scholarship Lab will include more CTL space. The library is well poised to capitalize on the momentum of collaborative learning, and create new and innovative spaces for students and the entire MSU community.
New Common Areas
The past decade has brought many changes to the Main Library building. Built primarily in the 1950s and 60s to accommodate a quickly growing collection, the building was increasingly less responsive to patron and staff needs. The past decade has brought improved A/C and electrical upgrades, insuring that the collection is held in a better environment, as well as added amenities for patrons and staff, including new carpet throughout the building and added compact shelving to accommodate an ever-growing collection.
Skyfire is one of the art pieces the MSU Libraries is proud to display.
The Clang Tone sculpture was donated to the Libraries by Stephen Wilensky.
Art in the Libraries
In 2010, the MSU Libraries held its first annual student art competition; concurrently, Irene B. Arens, former president of the Friends of the MSU Libraries, and a trained librarian and recognized artist, established an endowment in order to encourage student artists and enhance the ambience of the MSU Libraries by the display of award winning works. The competition was renamed the Irene B. Arens Student Art Competition; both a winning graduate and undergraduate piece are selected annually.
Donations of artwork are also welcome and have greatly increased the size of the collection. An art committee was established in 2012 to review prospective donations, develop guidelines for the acceptance of artwork, and choose locations donated works. The Art in the Libraries website includes donation guidelines as well as an inventory of the entire art collection.
When Barbara Sawyer-Koch and her husband Don Koch learned that the treasures in MSU Libraries Special Collections are only available to the public by request, they talked with AD for Special Collections Peter Berg and decided to donate funds for museum-quality display cases for the main lobby of the Libraries. Since these display cases are designed to be secure, both from potential theft and environmental concerns, materials from Special Collections are now prominently visible on the Libraries' first floor.
Mark Ritzenhein, a piano tuner and restorer of keyboard instruments, worked with local sculptor Jim Cunningham to create Clang Tone. The inspiration came from Mark's love of music and his desire to create something unique that would herald back to times when shop owners had signs hanging outside their storefronts advertising their work by using an image from their trade. Hence Clang Tone—an enormous tuning fork, marked with 421.6, the pitch to which Mozart kept his pianoforte tuned.
After Mark's untimely death, his partner, Stephen Wilensky decided to donate the Clang Tone sculpture to the MSU Libraries. Overlooking the Beal Gardens, Clang Tone is situated in the Wilensky-Ritzenhein Lounge—a quiet oasis for patrons on a Main Library west wing landing.
The library’s new circulation desk and other space changes are designed to add new and improve existing patron services throughout the building.
Much of the past two years have been spent remodelling the first floor lobby area and preparing for several larger moves. Circulation, now known as Patron Services, and the Reference Desk became a central service point with new desks. Special Collections, often considered the Libraries' hidden gem in the basement, is moving to an exciting new area on the first floor. This new, glassed-in space will include a large exhibit space, reading room, seminar room, and staff areas.
In addition to this move, much effort has gone into improving and expanding the Libraries' Remote Storage Facility. Once a cramped storage space off-campus, Remote Storage is now a huge building filled with high-density shelving and state-of-the-art HVAC for optimum long-term preservation of library materials. Lower-use items are being transferred to Remote, where the on-site staff works to scan or send items to patrons back on campus.
The Vernon G. Grove Mathematics Library and the Benjamin Anibal Engineering Library
Campus space priorities have factored into the closure of several branch libraries in the past few years. The Biomedical and Physical Sciences Library, Veterinary Medical Library, Engineering, and Math Libraries have all closed since the last 10-year report. MSU Libraries also opened and then closed a small branch library to serve the campus in Dubai, U.A.E.
In many cases, electronic journal backfiles were purchased, and physical material was shifted to the Main Library or Remote Storage, and staff and librarians continue to work with their departments and colleges from the Main Library. However, our existing branch libraries continue to thrive, including The Gast Business Library, which can seat 500 guests and frequently attracts 2,500-3,000 visitors per day.
The Morofsky Memorial Library continues to play a vital role for researchers at the Kellogg Biological Research Station in Gull Lake, Michigan. Finally, while not a bricks and mortar library, the Health Sciences Digital Library serves medical patrons around the state, and health sciences librarians make regular trips to the Secchia Center in Grand Rapids to work with faculty and students there.
New Staff Areas
The hiring of many new librarians has created a need to build more (and more modern) staff spaces. Technical Services was remodeled with all new offices and cubicles. Distance Learning Services moved to a new area in the east wing, and more staff space was built in their vacated area on the fourth floor of the west wing. Now known as The Treehouse, this new space features some open office areas for easier collaboration. The Wallace Conservation Lab, previously located primarily in Giltner Hall, has moved back to the Main Library for easier handing of library materials. Finally, the Main Office Administrative Suite was named the Richard Chapin Administrative Suite, in honor of the Libraries' former director, with several amenities added.
What is in store for MSU Libraries in the next decade? A Visioning Committee was recently convened, and they are finalizing suggestions for long- and short-term goals for the libraries.
Writers/Editors: Autumn Faulkner, Holly Flynn, and Devin Higgins
Photography: Shelby Kroske
Graphic Design: Theresa Moore
Drupal Programming: Jj Kidder, Sruthin Gaddam
Videography/video editing: Rick Peiffer, Megan Martine