Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) in Appleton, WI, is a Films On Demand subscriber. We recently talked with Valerie Magno, librarian at FVTC, about how her library handles technophobes, encourages usage among researchers, and makes the most out of the library budget.
Tell us one way you’re helping users who may be hesitant to embrace technology to take advantage of your library’s online resources.
One thing I love to do is to talk to students about library anxiety. I tell them that we are friendly and willing to help. I point out our main databases, including Films On Demand. The main point of my in-class presentations is that, even though there is a lot to learn about retrieving and evaluating information, students can come to us. They don’t have to be information experts, because that is our job. If I can make people feel comfortable coming to the library to ask for help, then I’m happy.
What have you done that has most impacted usage at your college?
It is so hard to get students to pay attention to anything besides what they think they need. Therefore, I focus on the faculty. I try to make sure the faculty learn about, and appreciate, library resources such as Films On Demand and our other databases. Student turnover in a two-year college makes the faculty the logical place to put time and energy. I teach the faculty about our resources, so they can teach their students. I also increase use and awareness of resources by embedding program-relevant videos and other subscription-based resources into Program-Specific Library Guides.
How do you alert faculty to the new resources your library acquires?
When I notice exciting new videos, books, or other supplemental resources, I add them to our Library Guides and/or send the information directly to the faculty I think will benefit most. I also like to snag people when they come to check out entertainment DVDs. I ask them if they have looked at our Program-Specific Library Guides lately. If they have time, I get to show them the newest materials available right then.
How do you make sure students and faculty with disabilities or language barriers can easily access your library’s resources?
I do a lot of usability testing on the website by asking students, staff and faculty to give me feedback on the Library Website. Since so many FVTC students only access our resources on-line, it is essential that our website is easy to use. I use statistics to trim off links that don’t get used, and I use parallel construction, to decrease the cognitive load of using our website. I also use tools like the WAVE Web Accessibility Tool to check accessibility and W3C® Markup Validation Service to check links. We also have some great dictionaries on our library’s website for international students.
Tell us how are you making the most out of your library budget in these uncertain economic times.
Staff cuts meant we had to stop maintaining so many items in our print collection, but since the online student enrollment was skyrocketing at the same time, it made sense to divert more money from print into electronic resources. Before renewing a subscription, I look at the balance between the cost of a resource, and how many times videos or full-text items are opened. If cost per use is more than $1 per use, we look at why the use is low, and whether we can drop or replace that resource. Since the budget is static, we need to drop or reduce one resource in order to try a new one.
What role does social media play in your relationship with your patrons?
We don’t have enough staff time to monitor live chat or keep up a lively social media presence.
What is your favorite part of being a librarian?
I get to use my skills to help other people improve their lives. I love to troubleshoot, do research, ferret out obscure information, and read about science, technology, psychology, and pedagogy. I love organizing things and summarizing, so the website is fun to create and maintain. I love learning and teaching. I get to do all the things I love, and I am rewarded with smiles, thanks, and a paycheck, too!
What do you think is the library’s most important responsibility at your institution?
The library is where people turn to learn, outside the classroom. We help people find the resources they need to be successful. We provide resources for faculty to supplement their teaching. We provide a friendly interface with students and potential students.
Tell us about your favorite YouTube video/libguide, etc., your library has created to promote a resource.
We have our whole website on Libguides, so my favorite page is the Library Resources Homepage. Students get what they need more quickly, so they have more time to read and use the resources.
- Use Libguides from Springshare and join the community. Great customer service, lots of training, and once you know how to use it, it is way too easy to create too many guides.
- When I want to find great resources recommended by librarians, I do a Google search and add “libguides” to get the cream of the library crop.
- I watch the statistics on what links are used most frequently on our website. The highest hits are from the links on our Library Resources Homepage. For any one guide, the front page gets the most hits and clicks to the next tab or page declines rapidly. For any one box, the first box and the first link in a box get the most hits. The most useful book I have used in designing our webpage is Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Third Edition by Steve Krug.