Students usually loathe making a trip to the library this time of the semester. Study spaces are crowded, computer stations are packed and the line for coffee is almost unbearably long. However, it seems students have had a much greater affinity for the new Business, Engineering, Science and Technology (BEST) Library as library staff has seen a 19 percent increase in visitors over last year at the Brill Science Library.
“We are excited in terms of the numbers we’ve seen,” said Jerome Conley, assistant dean of special libraries. “Based on preliminary data, we’re up 19 percent for year over year reference assistance so we feel that students are beginning to find the benefit in the BEST library.”
The data measures the amount of reference assistance students request, or the number of questions patrons ask.
The increase in visitors is likely due to the addition of business and psychology materials to the library’s collection, according to Conley.
“Basically, because we added business and psychology to our collection, some of those students, we believe, are coming from those other disciplines,” Conley said. “We truly believe this library complements our other libraries.”
The new library’s close proximity to the Hub, the Farmer School of Business, the Psychology Building and the other disciplines it represents has also helped make the library popular, according to Conley.
The new library houses over 90,000 books to service all these disciplines, according to Science Librarian Kevin Messner. To fit all these volumes into the building, the creators of the BEST Library chose to use compact shelving that rolls together, eliminating the space needed for traditional aisles.
The shelves may look unusual at first, but most students have no problem figuring out how to get the materials they need, according to Messner.
“We get a few students who get nervous and ask us for help, but for the most part, students are fine,” Messner said.
While the compact shelving saves floor space, the library does not have room for an infinite number of books. Due to this, the library has a “no growth” policy, according to Conley.
The no growth policy basically states that as the libraries add one item to the collection, they must move anther item. That item can be put it in the Southwest Ohio Regional Depository (SOWRD) located on Miami University’s Middletown campus, it can be moved to Brill, the depository on campus or can be changed to an electronic format, according to Conley.
“No growth is a little more complicated than just ‘no growth,'” Conley said.
The materials moved to the depositories are not off-limits to students, according to Conley. Patrons of the library can still request the books that are not physically located in BEST through the library’s online catalogue. Patrons can also request materials that Miami does not own through the OhioLINK interlibrary loan system.
“One of the things we at the libraries pride ourselves in is customer service or the ability to provide access to the materials that the students, faculty, staff and the community are looking for,” Conley said. “Access to our students have not suffered whatsoever in this move to Laws library.”
To save space for seating, all periodicals were left in the Brill science library, according to Messner. Once a day, someone from the library will scan the periodical the patron wants and send the material to the patron electronically.
“People have always been really happy with that because they can get information emailed to them, they don’t have to leave their office or their lab,” Messner said.
When deciding which materials to leave out of BEST, the library staff looked at what was available electronically and which books they had multiple copies of, according to Conley. Librarians also look at what materials are being used the most, what are the subjects being used the most, and when they feel a book or journal is no longer in use, that material is transferred to a depository.
“Someone said we were throwing away science books to make room for business books, that is absolutely not true,” Conley said. “It is true that we have a no growth policy here but, we don’t have a no access policy.”
Conley suggested consulting the trained library staff if students have difficulty finding materials they need. All the librarians have at least a masters degree and some have a higher degree and are available to help students find materials.
“At the moment, we have five subject librarians and we’re about to hire a sixth,” said Messner, who has a PhD in life sciences. “We have life sciences, business, psychology, engineering and maps and geosciences subject specialists. We hope to hire a new physical scientist subject specialist.”
In the meantime, the library staff is working on transferring books and journals online to increase availability to students.