Monday, May 16, 2016

The Librarian Behind the Curtain

A lot of people think Librarians spend all day reading. They say, "Oh wow, I always wanted to be a Librarian because I love reading. Do you get to read all day?"

Unfortunately, no we don't. There is some reading involved... Professional Journals, Library-related news, blogs and even Facebook groups to share ideas and stay in touch.

One thing we DO spend time doing is weeding. Not the kind of weeding that requires rubber shoes and a floppy hat, but the kind that requires us to look at materials that haven't been checked out in many years and ask ourselves, "Should we keep this?"

Part of maintaining a Library collection is ensuring that the materials are up-to-date and relevant to current research needs. There's so much that goes into determining whether or not to keep a resource that I wanted to share a little behind-the-scenes, "Librarian behind the curtain," if you will.

Some of the factors we consider are:
  • If we do decide to keep the resource, should we keep in the library, or does it belong in the (currently under-construction!) off-site repository? The repository is the perfect place for older or more delicate materials due to its controlled air quality.
  • What other Libraries have the same item? You might have used our Library Catalog to look for a book here at Alkek or Round Rock, but did you know that you can search over 10,000 Libraries worldwide using WorldCat's online search? We use WorldCat to check if the same resource is available nearby. In some cases we might be the only library who owns a certain resource! Libraries are very good at sharing. If you need a resource that's not available at Texas State University, you can request a copy using Interlibrary Loan.
  • What if the resource isn't getting used, but it's a good resource? Is it available as an e-book or online? Sometimes a book can sit on the shelf untouched for years, but when it becomes available as an e-book it gets a new lease on life.
  • Does the resource have historical value? A quick glance at a publication date of 1889 might lead someone to jump to the conclusion that the resource is entirely outdated and couldn't possibly be relevant to today's researchers. However, some older books are valuable resources for scholars who want to use primary sources and base their own research on that which came before.
  • Finally, we have to accept that we can't hold on to everything! Even so, it can be hard for Librarians to let go of old books. It might not have been checked out in over ten years, but there's something about saying, "Let's get rid of it," that feels so final. What if someone needs it TOMORROW? Digital to the rescue! We have access to wonderful resources for primary sources online - take for instance, The Hathi Trust Digital Library. If a resource isn't being used in our library, and it's available through a digital database, it can make "weeding" the physical resource much easier.
  • Play the Home Game! Search the Hathi Trust Digital Library for the book The Absolute Participle in Anglo-Saxon, by Morgan Callaway. There you can view the digital scan of a dissertation presented in 1889. For what it's worth, our physical copy will stay alive and well in our off-site repository.
  • Yearbooks - Bobcats through the ages! If you like looking through older resources online, make sure you check out our online Pedagog Yearbook collection (1900-present) which was recently digitized. This is a prime example of giving old books new legs through digitization - you probably wouldn't have come to the library to view the yearbooks from yesteryear, but now you can see what the campus, faculty and students looked like in 1916 with the click of a link!
There you have it! A very quick peak behind the curtain at your friendly Academic Librarians @ Alkek! Next time you're walking through the stacks, smelling the old books, and maybe running your finger along the spines, take a moment to think about all the decisions that go into each individual resource - to keep or not to keep? Print or digital? Relevant or out-dated? And here you thought we spent all day reading... ;)

Have a suggestion for a library order? Let us know!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Finals are finally over! Ready for some streaming video this weekend?

This weekend's forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms... Perfect time to stay indoors and watch some films about those things you've always wanted to know more about if it weren't for that final exam or research paper that was eating up all of your free time.

Whatever your poison, there's something for you in the Films On Demand: Master Academic Collection Database. Just last month, 74 new titles were added!

Interested in learning more about the personal philosophies of Muhammad Ali or Jim Henson? Check out the PBS series "In Their Own Words."

Have 47 minutes to clear up any lingering questions you have about Sex, Death, and the Meaning of Life? Acquaint yourself with Albert Camus and his Absurdist Philosophy.

Poetry month may have passed, but every month is appropriate for enjoying poetry. What's better on a rainy day than curling up in your favorite chair for a documentary about The Faerie Queene: The Secret Life of Books?
"Considered one of the most influential poems in the English language, Edmund Spenser’s "The Faerie Queene" is a fusion of Arthurian romance and Italian Renaissance epic styles."
If politics are on your mind this Presidential Primary season, you might enjoy this documentary (in Spanish) about Adolfo Ruiz Cortines, the oldest man to become president of Mexico.
"His competency in accounting and personal qualities of honesty and decency, distinguished him from the political corruption of the era."
Whatever you watch, just remember you've got until June 6th before classes start up again for the first Summer Session. Take some time to get familiar with Alkek's streaming databases and watch ANYTHING YOU WANT. Not because it was assigned, simply because it looks interesting.

Happy Interim!