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Stanley Wilder
swilder2@uncc.edu
Phone: 704-687-3110
Director's Blog  
 
Academic libraries in the US operate according to an academic support model that is so old and so pervasive that it has become like water to fish: nobody notices it, least of all those who practice it. But given the current feverish interest in academic performance, it may be time to ask whether every academic support unit shouldn’t look more like the library.
 
At Atkins, the old model is expressed in the phrase “every class has a librarian.” By this we mean that we have subject experts assigned to every department or discipline, the better to integrate library support into faculty research, curriculum, right down to deep familiarity with class assignments. Our librarians can speak the language, literally, and students and faculty feel the difference. To this we add ad-hoc availability of our experts, nights and weekends. On any given day, it’s safe to say that librarians are the only adult academic support on campus after 5 PM.

Sincerely,





There is no amount of money that a research library is not prepared to spend on collections. More is always better, even if the increments of benefit get progressively smaller as expenditures go up. The problem is that even declining benefits can be excellent investments. How to know?
 
The answer is easy at UNC Charlotte: there is no black hole.
 
The reason is research.  UNCC currently has 19 Ph.D. programs, the oldest of which date back only to about 1995. Prior to that point, Atkins maintained only 5,000 subscriptions, a “current awareness” collection perfectly suited to the university’s needs at the time. Now Atkins maintains about 40,000 journal titles, but with only spotty backfiles. Digital backfiles are expensive, but their outrageously high use makes them the best collections investment the Library could possibly make. And no, they are not endless in number!

Sincerely,





Last week, John Doe and Dave Jones, two brilliant UNCC graduate students presented a proposal for a digital product for our library. Their presentation began with a series of photos of the library’s search process, with the caption “The search process is not a pretty sight.” Ouch! It hurts to hear blunt truths like this, but the pain is a healthy reminder of the urgency we all feel in making search better.
 
There is no shame in our current search environment: search in an academic context is an unusually difficult problem, fraught with obstacles and complexity that Google does not have to contend with. But it’s no consolation that our pain is shared by research communities worldwide: over the next few months, the Library will be engaged in a rigorous review of options with potential to make quantum improvements in the power and simplicity of search, and to make those improvements before the end of the current fiscal year. Some interesting models of possible search environments can be found here, here, and here.

Sincerely,