Thursday, January 16, 2014

UNCG Libraries Open New Gaming Lab in the Digital Media Commons (DMC)

Video games – how do they affect us and what can we learn from them?  That’s the question being explored in the newest feature in the Digital Media Commons in UNCG’s Jackson Library.

Students and faculty are invited to see for themselves what the buzz is about on February 7 at 3 pm in the Digital Media Commons to explore the new Gaming Lab, which opened December 3.  While there, we invite you to see the new MakerBot printer now being installed.

The Gaming Lab project was spearheaded by Associate Professor Gregory Grieve, and coordinated by Beth Filar Williams, Interim Head of the Digital Media Commons (DMC). Support from Lindsay Sabatino, Director of the Digital ACT Studio housed in the DMC along with the financial support College of Arts and Sciences, Lloyd International Honors College, Undergraduate Studies, and University Libraries made the lab possible.
With the opening of the Gaming Lab, UNCG is following scholar­ship and a general curriculum trend around the country. As outlined in The Chronicle of Higher Education:  “Games are now used in English classes studying interactive narratives, media-studies classes looking at the cultural impact of violent games, as well as courses in game design offered at about 300 colleges.”  As Beth Filar Williams said, “We are not just building the lab because it is trendy.  The Game Lab follows the core mission of the University Libraries, to provide and support innovative, interdisciplinary, learning environments needed for faculty and student success.”

Often video games are viewed as little more than niche entertainment.  Yet, as Gregory Grieve, said, “Sixty-seven percent of US households play video games.  Without critical examination, our students run the risk of consuming problematic portrayals of history, other cultures, gender and depictions of violence.”  Unlike other types of popular culture, such as films and television, as Grieve went on to say, “games require that players interact with them, that they have the controllers in their hands.  If you want students to study something, you have to have it in front of them.” 

3D printing is the process of making a physical object from a digital file - enabling rapid prototyping of design concepts and functional, working models.  Makerbots are appearing all across the country, and Filar-Williams says it makes sense to have one in a central facility on campus in the DMC that everyone can use.

Why Did the University Libraries Move to a New Library Catalog?

You may have noticed a few changes to the library catalog recently. The new public catalog, using a product from long-time library system supplier OCLC, is known as WorldCat Local. In addition to supporting a user in finding books and other materials held here in Jackson Library, this Worldcat local catalog now searches collections of thousands of other libraries worldwide, and most of our electronic content such as e-journals, databases, and e-books. It also replaces our old Journal Finder product with a Journal A-Z list to help you find electronic journals available to UNCG users. While it is mostly transparent to those who use the catalog, we have also moved our library operations to OCLC’s WorldShare Management Services (WMS) to manage the ordering, processing, and circulation of library materials, along with holds, book renewals, print reserves, and similar user services.

Why did we make these changes? Several years ago we realized that our old library systems were not being developed to meet our users’ needs. The online catalog was no longer being supported by the vendor and we had to make a change in order to continue to provide reliable service. Cloud-based systems, such as the one we chose, were more attractive than locally-managed systems, reducing overhead and management costs, and reducing duplication of effort among libraries. Of all of the options available to us, the WorldCat Local / WMS combination was the best choice. 

Our new library system provides broader and more flexible information discovery. Researchers can choose to find books, films, music, and articles from libraries around the world, with easy to use Interlibrary Loan services embedded within records, or simply choose to search only materials here at UNCG. Additionally, Libraries staff are actively involved in the OCLC user community and are positioned to influence the future development of both WorldCat Local and WMS to better meet our users’ needs.

As always, please contact your library or library liaison if you need assistance.
Jackson Library Reference and Instructional Services: (336) 334-5419
Schiffman Music Library: (336) 336-5610
Library Liaisons:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A “Data Driven” Library

How do the University Libraries make decisions?  Rather than doing what we’ve always done or what we just think is a good idea, we try to base our priorities on good data that indicate a need for the project.  Then we follow up with assessment. 

Some recent examples of how we used data to make decisions or implement programs include:

Marketing to UNCG Staff
A survey of UNCG staff in 2009 indicated that most were not aware of Libraries’ services and resources.  We developed a marketing plan that included developing a brochure just for staff and including the Libraries in New Staff Orientation.  Staff checkouts more than doubled between 2009 and 2013

Journal cancellations
Faced with budget cuts in 2011-12 we conducted a data-intensive analysis of our academic journal publisher packages.  Using these objective data points, we developed a draft list of journal cancellations that was widely shared with faculty for their expert input.  As an end result we identified and canceled the four publisher packages that were yielding the lowest ROI. The net savings exceed $150,000 annually.

Customer Service
A “mystery shopper” assessment of our public services conducted in 2010 was quite positive but indicated that improvement was needed in some areas.  We developed customer workshops in summer 2011 which 85% of staff attended.  Online training for student employees was developed which all public services student employees were required to complete.  The assessment was conducted again in 2012 with significant improvement.

Researcher Space
Use of our Special Collections and University Archives by researchers increased over 200% in recent years.  We conducted a survey of recent researchers that provided evidence for a renovation of the researcher space to provide increased capacity and a comfortable and secure space to use our growing unique materials. 
Exploring the cello music collections  in the new
Special Collections and University Archives
Research Room

All project results along with any presentations or publications are posted on the Libraries’ Assessment LibGuide. 
Posted for Kathy Crowe, Associate Dean of University Libraries 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tickets for the Friends of the UNCG Libraries Dinner with Nikki Giovanni on March 6 Are Available

Tickets for the Friends of the UNCG Libraries dinner with Nikki Giovanni on March 6 are now on sale from Triad Stage at 336-272-0160 (toll free 1-866-579-8499) or online.  Proceeds support the University Libraries.

Nikki Giovanni is a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. Over the past 30 years, her outspokenness, in her writing and in lectures, has brought the eyes of the world upon her. One of the most widely-read American poets, she prides herself on being "a Black American, a daughter, a mother, a professor of English." Giovanni remains as determined and committed as ever to the fight for civil rights and equality. Always insisting on presenting the truth as she sees it, she has maintained a prominent place as a strong voice of the Black community. Her focus is on the individual, specifically, on the power one has to make a difference in oneself, and thus, in the lives of others.

Nikki Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and grew up in Lincoln Heights, an all-black suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. She and her sister spent their summers with their grandparents in Knoxville, and she graduated with honors from Fisk University, her grandfather's alma mater, in 1968; after graduating from Fisk, she attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. She published her first book of poetry, Black Feeling Black Talk, in 1968, and within the next year published a second book, thus launching her career as a writer. Early in her career she was dubbed the "Princess of Black Poetry," and over the course of more than three decades of publishing and lecturing she has come to be called both a "National Treasure" and, most recently, one of Oprah Winfrey's twenty-five "Living Legends."

Many of Giovanni's books have received honors and awards. Her autobiography, Gemini, was a finalist for the National Book Award; Love Poems, Blues: For All the Changes, and Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea were all honored with NAACP Image Awards. Blues: For All the Changes reached #4 on the Los Angeles Times Best-Seller list, a rare achievement for a book of poems. Most recently, her children's picture book Rosa, about the civil rights legend Rosa Parks, became a Caldecott Honors Book, and Bryan Collier, the illustrator, was given the Coretta Scott King award for best illustration. Rosa also reached #3 on the New York Times Best-Seller List.

Giovanni's spoken word recordings have also achieved widespread recognition and honors. Her album Truth Is On Its Way, on which she reads her poetry against a background of gospel music, was a top 100 album and received the Best Spoken Word Album given by the National Association of Radio and Television Announcers. Her Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection, on which she reads and talks about her poetry, was one of five finalists for a Grammy Award.

Giovanni's honors and awards have been steady and plentiful throughout her career. The recipient of some 25 honorary degrees, she has been named Woman of the Year by Mademoiselle Magazine, Ladies Home Journal, and Ebony Magazine. She was tapped for the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame and named an Outstanding Woman of Tennessee. Giovanni has also received Governor's Awards from both Tennessee and Virginia. She was the first recipient of the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award, and she has also been awarded the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry. She is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and has received Life Membership and Scroll from The National Council of Negro Women. A member of PEN, she was honored for her life and career by The History Makers. She has received the keys to more than two dozen cities. A scientist who admires her work even named a new species of bat he discovered for her!

The author of some 30 books for both adults and children, Nikki Giovanni is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia and is the recipient of Virginia Tech’s highest honor, the Alumni Outreach Award.

Friends member tickets are $54
Non-member tickets are $64
Program only tickets are $20. 

Dinner tickets must be ordered by February 27.  Program only tickets will be available through the date of the program, subject to availability.

Table sponsorships are available for $550 for a table of eight.  Table sponsors are recognized in the program, on signage, and from the podium on the night of the dinner.  The deadline for table sponsorships is February 15.

Contact Barry Miller at or 336-256-0112 for more information.

Values and Priorities – Deciding How Best to Move Forward

How does an organization best position itself for the future?  How do we insure that our decisions remain true to who we are and what we believe in?  Those of us working in the University Libraries have recently spent some time coming to consensus on what our values are as a Library. Values represent our guiding principles: our broadest motivations, influencing the attitudes we hold and how we act.  Perhaps not surprisingly we came to pretty clear consensus, and the results are described here
To move forward, though, those values need to be reflected in our priorities in a difficult budget environment, and a list of those priorities is found here.
Readers may not always care too much about the details of things like our library systems, for example, but we hope that you will appreciate the care and effort that goes into the choices we make about which to use and how we prepare ourselves to use them to serve you better.  Over the coming days, we will post short stories about some of our priorities and why they matter, and we will share our thinking behind the choices we made that led us to adopt these priorities.
Dean Bazirjian also wanted to insure that our values and priorities were consciously linked, so we produced a chart for our own use and that of our university administration as a way of checking to make sure that the two were synchronized.  We hope you will find our thinking helpful in understanding where the University Libraries are going. (click on image below to enlarge it)

University Libraries Priorities for 2013-14

At its annual retreat last summer, the Administrative Advisory Group to Dean Rosann Bazirjian established the following priorities for this academic year.  As the second semester begins, it is appropriate to review those priorities.  Subsequent postings in upcoming days will link the priorities to our values, and explain some of those priorities in greater detail.  Feel free to post questions.

  • Create a data driven strategic plan for collections
  • Collaborate with partners to continue developing effective learning spaces
  • Support  continuous learning and professional development for all Libraries’ staff
  • Establish budget priorities and manage them effectively
  • Foster a culture of grant and donor development
  • Increase advocacy of scholarly communication and open access on campus
  • Support a culture of staff recognition and appreciation
  • Create a strategic plan to lead the Libraries’ diversity initiatives
  • Craft  a  sustainable computing environment 
  • Develop the Libraries as creators and publishers of content
  • Support student learning through information literacy instruction and faculty collaboration
  • Emphasize WMS updating, training, creative solutions and product improvement *
  • Develop and grow research support services *
  • Expand the growth of born digital initiatives *
  • Produce strategies that communicate the value of the Libraries *
  • Continue implementation  of the new liaison model *
*= carried over from 2012-13 priorities
Not in priority order