October 11, 2008

Mars' Hill Reports on Alloway Library

Mars' Hill, TWU's student newspaper recently reported on Alloway Library's services:

By Nicole Brandsma

May contain booksIf the rigours of academics have not yet driven you to the Norma Marion Alloway Library, you may be unaware of several recent changes made to better serve the Trinity Western University community.

The library has launched a new website homepage, complete with an updated EBSCO interface for searching article databases. Students also now have access to a greater number of online resources databases and will receive e-mail reminders about almost due books. In addition to these technological upgrades, the library has put up new signs to help people navigate the library, and has made reusable book bags available for purchase.

Many of the features of the redesigned library homepage, which was launched on Aug. 18, are the result of student and faculty input. The webpage highlights features that students use most often, such as “Ask a Librarian.” This service allows students to contact a TWU librarian online, through either e-mail or chat. Students also have access to “AskAway,” which connects them to a librarian from the network of academic libraries in British Columbia.

The site underwent extensive usability testing before its launch, but Duncan Dixon, a reference librarian and the website revision project leader, welcomes any suggestions for improvements.

“We really do appreciate any feedback if something isn’t working,” he said.

Ted Goshulak, the university librarian, agrees. “It’s not a negative – if it doesn’t work for one person, it probably isn’t working for others.”

Dixon also points out that library staff have created online flash tutorials to help students figure out the new features, such as EBSCO 2.0.

Although each of these updates is an improvement, they are just a glimpse into the plans for Alloway Library that Goshulak hopes to see realized.

Due to the growing number of books being published and online sources being made available, Goshulak stresses that the need for expansion will soon be unavoidable. He would also like to address the students’ need for more group study space. This vision involves transforming the current microform room into a study area and removing walls in the upper level to create open space for more bookshelves.

These changes all depend on an increased budget.

Currently, Alloway Library focuses on meeting the immediate needs of students and faculty.

“We are a curriculum-driven library. If we teach it, we support it,” said Goshulak.

To become a research-driven library would require more funding. TWU’s library is, however, gaining recognition as having a strong core of resources and staff knowledge in the field of theology, which Goshulak comments is something unique that TWU can offer other libraries.

The desire to improve Alloway Library is grounded in creating a facility that focuses on usability, extensive resources and open communication with library staff.

Dixon wants students to know that the library staff are there to help. “Don’t be afraid to contact us with whatever medium is most comfortable for you,” he said.

To stay informed about library updates and news, visit the blog at www.twulibrarynews.blogspot.com or follow the “Alloway Library News” link on the library homepage.

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