Every now and then we see a good story in the mainstream media about the positive contributions libraries make to their communities. Not surprisingly, those stories tend to feature public libraries. Occasionally the subject of the article is an academic library. This past Sunday the Star Tribune in Minneapolis featured an article about the innovations at the University of Minnesota’s Walter Library designed to lure students to the library. As with most articles of this type the student quotes reflect their attraction to Internet search engines, but some acknowledge that the library provides invaluable and time-saving research assistance – and good coffee. After reading the article and exploring the web site at the University of Minnesota Library, I find their balanced approach to reaching out to students provides a good model. Recognizing students’ preference for search systems that provide a Google experience, they’ve developed the “Undergraduate Virtual Library”. It looks to be a federated search system that mimics the features of a simple search engine, but with a slightly busier interface. But they also promote a variety of user education programs to help students improve library research skills. It demonstrates that while it is important to acknowledge changing student behaviors by offering new and different approaches to research, academic librarians can offer balance by continuing to support the essential values of user education.
ACRL has announced that content from College & Research Libraries will be made freely available on the ACRL Web site six months after publication, and that back issues from 1997 – are already available.
This is welcome news to those of us who have been calling for ACRL to provide leadership in this area for the past few years. I have to believe that our message to faculty about the need to commit to open access alternatives for Tier One scholarly journals can only be made more effective by being able to demonstrate that our own professional association has made that same commitment in regard to our most highly-regarded, peer-reviewed journal. It would be nice to see other leading LIS journals make this same commitment, but it was absolutely imperative that ACRL do so, and I’m excited to see that it has finally happened.
I’m also happy to see that the announcement clearly articulates ACRL support for author self-archiving of material published in C&RL. I had to do some digging myself earlier this year to determine ACRL policy on this issue as I was preparing to place a paper that I presented at the ACRL meeting in Minneapolis into our institutional repository (KU ScholarWorks). Lots of good news in this announcement!