CommComm posted on June 10, 2010 23:54

The article from INSIDE HIGHERED is also featured in USATODAY.

Embedded librarians Johns Hopkins ahead of curve - USATODAY_com.mht (656.75 kb)

CommComm posted on June 10, 2010 19:53

I spoke with Dongming Zhang, Associate Director for Advanced Technology and Information systems at Welch, about the future Welch Online Integrated Information Service Portal (the integration of MyWelch and Welchweb). Specifically, I asked what were the reasons behind the move. Dongming said that “the user interface is really out of date. The technology that’s available---Web 2.0---provides so many different ways for access. Essentially, we wanted to provide 3 components to our users: 1) better interfaces, 2) better technology and 3) more integrated access for a better user experience”. Dongming and I chatted about the current generation of computer users being more tech-saavy than the previous generation of babyboomers. As we spoke, I mentioned Victoria Goode and her MLA presentation on this very subject.

Dongming stressed that “ATIS (Advanced Technology and Information systems) must have a better understanding of our user’s needs. Over the past few years the communication with our users has intensified. There has been a process of transformation. “ I found myself in complete agreement with Dongming’s assessment and I relayed to him how, previously, the process of having remote access was a tad difficult, even daunting. Working at the Circ desk patrons would call in and sometimes be at a complete loss with regards to configuring their home computer to access Welch journals and databases. Having given remote access a “test drive” last week I can safely say this is no longer a hurdle.

Dongming had a few more thoughts, “a strong electronic collection does not mean strong user access. You have to improve the access, and you have to promote it. Knowing our user’s behavior equals improved service. We intend to serve, not just our established community, but allowing---say, the person who just arrived on campus---the same opportunity to have their needs met. We intend to serve more user’s, support the Informationists and to recognize how vital is our online collection.”

I joked that he sounded alot like my chit chat with Nancy Roderer. Dongming joked back, “that’s because we’re both on the same page”. Dongming said that we could see the prototype of the integrated Information Service Portal by the end of August, and realistically he expects that near the end of the year the actual production will roll out.  


Alonzo LaMont


CommComm posted on June 10, 2010 00:22

Of course we watch other libraries to see what they are doing, and this came accross my desk today from Jerry Perry, Director of the Health Sciences Library at the University of Colorado Denver.  Jerry said:



The latest issue of The Appendix: The Official Organ of the Health Sciences Library, University of Colorado Denver, is now available for reading at


June is proving to be an interesting month for programming at the library; we have a new exhibit opening this weekend focusing on the “Art of Anatomy,” and later this month we’ll be screening the film, Fighting for Life, a documentary about wounded soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and the care they receive from medics.



Notice the unique kinds of services offered on a new and medical-only campus.  Also interesting are the staff and user profiles included in the newsletter.


Nancy Roderer



Posted in: Director's Corner  Tags:
CommComm posted on May 26, 2010 05:07

Over in the DIRECTOR'S CORNER.....(a short click away to the link on the left)  we have an interview with Nancy Roderer, Director of the Welch Library. Nancy shares a few thoughts on the current state of the library, as well as the direction of the library for the immediate future. This is Nancy's first blog post, and we're happy to welcome her aboard. Many thanks for setting aside some time in her schedule.  

---Alonzo LaMont


Posted in: Director's Corner  Tags:


Q:  In the near future the library will be moving out of the physical space it now occupies. I know there’s been much thought and discussion about such a huge relocation. What do you see as the chief reasons for the move?

A:  I can think of two reasons. First, given the library model of the future, the actual building, wasn’t needed. The collection’s online, the databases are online and the librarian now comes to you. The second reason, the more practical reason is simply---the physical space. The library is very expensive to maintain.  If we no longer take up the actual space and don’t have to pay for that space, we can use that money for better purposes.   There was a period when we tried to get people to come to the library so they could get exposed to the books and we provided them with study space, and reading space. We got quite wrapped up in the idea of getting patrons in the door. But that was then, and this is now. Does it make sense for students to come to the library, or does it make more sense for students to have places of study in the building with their classroom? Students like to be in environments where they can do multiple things. Most people’s concept of a library is ---the personal service. We felt it was important for patrons to have the actual services of a real human being.  Individual help.  Because the technology allows us to do it, we decided we could offer individualized service. Having a real relationship with a real librarian seems to make a difference. You can now have a librarian work with you. This led to the development of the Informationists.    


Q:   Everyone who works at Welch is well aware that our pride and joy is the online collection. Are you proud of the strides we’ve made with respect to the growth of the collection?

A:  I would say we’ve worked very hard over the years to find out what’s needed, and then to go get these materials. We’ve worked very hard to stretch our budget---Certainly the growth of the collection is partly the result of publishers, virtually everything is online, and this has happened faster in medicine than in other fields. 

Q:  How did the growth of the collection factor into the decision to leave the library?


A:  The electronic collection grew, the physical collection shrunk.  The physical collection can shrink further because we have many older volumes that are now available electronically. The challenge was whether users wanted to come to the library to get it, or have it on their computer, right there in the office. 

Q:  Are you pleased with the strides Welch is making in implementing such a new model of operations? 

A:  Yes.  The challenge of the collection is mostly related to the budget but also finding out what people need. It’s the job of the library Director to see what we can do next, and then, what we can do after that.

There’s also something else that’s worth mentioning………….I’m not unaware that these transitions represent very big changes for the people who work at the library. So the human element, the emotional aspects---I’d put those right up there on the list of major challenges. I think what we started with was a vague idea that people could do other jobs.  We merged the circulation desk---it’s now the Welch Service Center desk---it used to be the circulation/reference. That desk now handles circulation, along with some reference questions and it serves as a referral desk for questions that are relayed to our Informationists. That move worked, so we moved on to “well, what other changes can be made with other jobs?”  Now, this isn’t a perfect system. We’ve tried to do it as gradually and as gently as possible. Part of this is adapting jobs to the work load. That’s the kind of thing you have to do sometimes. Go from where you were, to where you need to be next. I’d be the first one to admit that this kind of transition is very hard to do. For many people there’s a great comfort in doing the same thing. But if that thing is no longer needed, then what?

Q:  What progress do you see in the immediate future regarding the transitions the library is faced with?  

A:  We’re going to have a busy summer because we’re moving a lot of the collection to recycling, and people see that as a very big deal. It does mean a lot of work, because things have to be identified and we have to be sure the right items go to the right places. What needs to be weeded out, what needs to be saved.  I was talking to some faculty in the School of Public Health. When I finished presenting, one of the faculty blurted out, “you’re taking away my library!” and before I could respond another person said, “but you don’t go there”.  As we get closer and closer to things happening we’ll, of course, go back and repeat just what led us to our decisions, and what we see as the future. That faculty member who thought we were taking away his library was referring to the physical place.


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