I like LC but…

May 25, 2006, 1:47 pm

Thanks everyone for your interest in this blog.

Why do we make students learn the Library of Congress System? Does knowing that finance books are in the HG’s or that literature is somewhere in the P’s really enhance their lives? When they graduate and move on to the real world, where does the Library of Congress Classification system fit in? Surely not at their public library which probably uses Dewy. And let’s be honest, all the studies show that people use the web, not libraries. I have never met a student with exposure to LC prior to attending college, so why do we force them to learn it? I am not advocating a switch to Dewey, but rather that we just give people what they want… literally.

The Info Lit people are all about teaching students how to identify, evaluate, locate, and use information, but that is subjective. For me, if a student uses a library database (or any other tool) to find items that are not full-text than they have done their job. Why not provide free document delivery for them? For example, we don’t provide the current year of Science online, patrons ask for this ALL THE TIME, and we tell them they have to come in to read, photocopy, or scan it.

Why don't academic libraries provide a free document delivery system for all patrons? Many libraries offer this service to faculty or to distance learning students, but why not to all students?

Well, the University of Nevada does: doi:10.1016/S1464-9055(02)00309-3   The article (which is quite revolutionary!) is about the claiming of journals, but makes this statement:

"The Libraries stopped charging Nevada students and employees any fees for document delivery, and established a free on-campus delivery service. With check-in, the tacit message to patrons had been Youre looking for an article in the June issue of the Atlantic ? Yes, that issue has been checked in. Go look on the shelves, and if it isnt there, try again later.The message now is Youre looking for an article in the June issue of the Atlantic? It should be in the Current Periodicals stacks. Check there, and if it isnt available at the moment, the University will get a copy of the article for you in about 24 hours at no charge. Would you like it delivered to your campus address in print form (again, at no charge), or would you like to be notified when you can retrieve it on the Web?

Public libraries are in on this too. The Orange County Library System offers a great service called MAYL, which essentially includes the mailing of library materials to patrons for free. I have a friend in Orlando who told me he doesn’t have time to go to the library, but because of this service is able to order several books a month.


So the question is—do we want to be Blockbuster or Netflix?


The fact that most academic libraries will not allow users to submit a request (email, phone, or IM) for a book (let's leave articles aside for now) and have it available for them to pickup later seems very outdated. I mean, we  followed the trend of placing cafes into our libraries– when are we going to adopt the other simple services that bookstores provide? When are we going to start making it easy for the patron?

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