Troy University, located in Troy, AL, is a Films On Demand subscriber. We recently talked with Christopher Shaffer, Troy University’s Dean of Library Services, about how his library makes the most of its budget, uses social media to connect with students and faculty, and encourages usage among researchers.
What have you done that has most impacted usage at your college?
It depends on how you are defining usage. Our electronic resources are very well used. With Films On Demand, faculty were familiar with the product brand in a physical format, such as DVDs and videos, so it was fairly easy to steer them to the online resource. Our issue has been more with the physical condition of our building, which had deteriorated over the years, and led to students turning away from the library. As a result, we have spent the last three years sprucing up the place, which has included new carpet and adding things such as an exercise room, study rooms, an innovation lab, and more than doubling the computer footprint. When we started making these changes, our in-building usage increased by 21%.
How are you making the most of your library budget during these uncertain times?
We have been cut or received flat funding for the past seven years, and of course, flat funding is a cut, because prices only increase. We have done a variety of things. We have made strategic cuts, particularly where there was duplication of materials. We also have extension campuses that had never really paid their fair share of database expenses, so they now pay more. We have also had vendors who have renegotiated their prices based on our lower FTE. We have also had to cut products when vendors refused to budge. Films On Demand actually is a cost savings to us, because we have access to more films than before, and demand for physical films has gone down significantly.
What do you think is the library’s most important responsibility at your institution?
I’m fairly sure this question requires a complex sentence. Our library’s most important responsibilities are to provide a place—both physically and electronically—where students are able to find the accurate information they need with unbiased help from professional librarians.
What is your favorite part of being a librarian?
I love planning and hosting programming events—lectures in particular. Part of me is a tyrant; because I am in charge, that means I am able to pick people I am interested in to speak. It’s fun watching the students and getting to see them as they become interested in the topic at hand. And it is also fun for me to get to be able to spend some time talking to the various guest lecturers.
What role does social media play in your relationship with your patrons?
We began a Facebook page in 2008. It has a relatively small number of followers, but they are quite active. When we added a coffee machine, the post was shared so much that it was viewed 20,000 times. As well, if we create an event on Facebook for a lecture or film, it gets noticed, and when people say they are coming, they really do. So, it has been a great way to reach out to our users.