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Q&A: Susan Currie on the libraries


Susan Currie, associate director of library services, recently took some time to talk about current issues in the libraries.

Bartle Library recently switched to a “24x5” schedule, meaning it’s open from noon Sunday to 8 p.m. Friday and noon-8 p.m. Saturday. Why did you make this change?

Our libraries strive to be increasingly more user-friendly and learner-centered. Today’s students have many commitments outside the classroom that make for erratic hours during their multi-tasking days. By expanding its hours, Bartle Library not only accommodates students’ needs but ensures equal access to unique print and digital information resources.

How will the new Information Commons change the library?

The Information Commons, an important collaboration between the Libraries and Computing Services, will have more than 150 computers. It will be a computer-enhanced research environment that invites users to work collaboratively, use the resources available in the Library and obtain expert assistance. A comprehensive set of tools for information retrieval and manipulation will be available to support the entire process of scholarly inquiry. In addition to the computer resources, the Commons will have a new service desk. Scanning, color printing, laptop loans, advanced resource discovery tools, presentation practice space and multi-media production capability are just some of the services planned.

Is it true I can use instant messenger to ask a librarian a reference question?

Absolutely! Instant messenger services are used at both the Bartle and Science Library reference and information desks. IM is great for quick questions. We can verify holdings, check citations, offer database guidance and help find factual information. You can use AOL, Yahoo or MSN messenger software. Instructions for using IM can be found at http://library.lib.binghamton.edu/webdocs/IMpilot.html.

You can also e-mail questions, which are answered within 24 hours. Use the form at http://library.lib.binghamton.edu/webdocs/askalibrarian.html.

Do you envision a day when every book and journal will be available electronically?

Librarians routinely consult instructional faculty regarding format preferences while monitoring the publishing world for changes in pricing. Economics dictate that virtually all journals will move from print to digital distribution, probably within the decade. Books, however, are more entwined with copyright restrictions and cultural traditions. In the near term, one’s best guess is that books will be selected electronically, downloaded and printed on demand.

So much research can be done online now. Is there any reason to go to the library in person anymore?

A key component in any form of research is formulating the appropriate question and subsequently identifying the most authoritative responses; online resources are of little aid in either activity. Librarians can provide research and consultation help. While many resources are available online, the libraries have rich print collections that are unique and only available in print. In addition, we have media resources such as DVDs, videos and music CDs.

The Libraries’ Web site now features a service called metaLINK. What is this and how can it help me in my research?

MetaLINK is a gateway to the library collections. It provides patrons access to resources such as catalogs, reference databases, citation databases, subject gateways and e-journals. MetaLINK offers CrossSearch capabilities, which is searching across multiple resources. The difference between the infoLINK Library Catalog and metaLINK is that infoLINK contains details of materials in the library (books, journals, DVDs, etc). MetaLINK, however, provides an opportunity to search a number of resources simultaneously, including infoLINK. For more information, visit http://library.lib.binghamton.edu/webdocs/metaLINKfaq.html.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08