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U of L libraries talk modernization, keeping up with the digital age
By Maggie Cunningham–
In the last several years, Ekstrom, along with libraries across Kentucky and the nation, has been making major updates to come into the technological state of being that is the 21st century. Libraries in Kentucky alone provide 4,497 computers for public use free of charge and collections of e-books are rapidly increasing. Over three million e-books were checked out last year.
The Ekstrom Library has many different departments and help desks for student assistance. “An important thing for incoming students is, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask, email, call… That is what we are here for,” says Steve Whiteside, the interlibrary loan lending assistant at the Robotic Retrieval system on the first floor. There are more books than what can be found in Ekstrom, and the interlibrary lending service helps students and faculty get material that may not be located on our campus.
“Another thing we have done is, if you go to our interlibrary loan page, there are some tips on doing research,” said Whiteside. To view this page you have to set up an ILLiad account, which is independent from ulink. Whiteside said “The ILLiad account is something that every student should know about, and is how you can order library books. These tips will help request input so that we can get it to you faster.”
There have been several scanners added to Ekstrom, so if a page of a journal is needed, instead of checking it out it can be scanned to an email and be readily available. In addition, the Photo Archives department, on the Lower Level is working on scanning many different types of archives that are available online.
The Digital Media Suite on the first floor offers many digital solutions for students and faculty. Their space is granted by the library, and their media equipment is provided by he Delphi center. They have a green screen room and Apple workstations in addition to video cameras available for check-out and tutors available, provided by REACH. “We are hiring students to tutor digital media editing for image, video, and audio projects. The tutoring position starts at $8.50 an hour. Students can apply at reach.louisville.edu,” says Neil James, DMS GSA.
James also said, “We typically offer seven weeks of free image editing workshops in the Spring and in the Fall. Students can check out our youtube page (www.youtube.com/digitalmediasuite) for videos of some workshop tutorials.”
Pam Yeager, the Programs Assistant Senior in Special Collections said, “Not only pictures are available on the digital collection. There are masters and doctoral thesis and dissertations, oral history interviews, and University of Louisville yearbooks, which are heavily used.” These collections can be found at Digital.library.louisville.edu and new collections are being scanned and added frequently.
A major update that was brought about through the SGA is the upgrade in media rentals. “We have updated our computers and we are also now loaning out chargers, headphones, laptops, iPods, iPads and e-readers,” said Ashley McKenzie, a theater senior at the Media Desk. These items are available for rental free of charge; all a student needs is their I.D.
The Delphi and distance learning center has made great leaps in keeping teachers updated and integrating technology into their coursework. “Our target audience is faculty. We are helping teachers create online coursework that can be more accessible to students,” said Steven Dwinnells, assistant director for the Delphi Center.
“The Blackboard app is also very handy, and we’re looking to develop more applications for mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets that will help faculty integrate classes,” Dwinnells said. Although the Delphi Center mainly reaches faculty and staff, what they are working on with those faculty members directly relates to what you get in class from how they teach, using different technologies, to what kind of coursework they assign.
Ekstrom library offers many things besides the ever present smell of hundreds of rows of books and is continuing to look for ways to update. There are individual desks to plug in laptops, Macs available in the media center, and robotic retrieval and interlibrary loan lending. If a student is having trouble with a computer related class or project, the REACH resource center is available to help. Scanners and printers have multiplied in the last year and all kinds of electronics are available for short term rentals.
In addition to 21st century modernization updates, Ekstrom is also looking to remodel in order to make certain areas a little more aesthetically pleasing and usable for students. “Within the next year they hoped to have the entire fourth floor rehabbed. New furniture and better functionality will make it a quiet study area,” says Whiteside.
The security has been updated as well. “Not anybody can come in here. A community patron can’t come in here at night. You have to be a student, and you have to have your student I.D.,” says Whiteside. Although the west wing is typically open 24 hours a day, during nighttime hours a student ID is required to gain entry to certain parts, mainly in the East Wing.
Photo by Rae Hodge/The Louisville Cardinal