«BUILDING A NEW GENERATION SCIENCE LIBRARY: THE KAUST STORY Item type Conference Paper Authors Al Zahrani, Rashed; Branin, Joseph; Yu, Yi Downloaded ...»
The third priority given to us by both faculty and students was to supply course textbooks, acquiring copies both for the library closed reserve collection and for sale to students taking courses. This priority in many ways proved most challenging and tested our problem solving skills. After three years of experience and constant attempts to improve the textbook program, including application of a lean six sigma analysis, we have identified three critical factors to its success: timely and accurate faculty requests, effective acquisition of textbooks (mostly still in print format), and the desire and willingness of students to purchase textbook. We have through a variety of strategies improved on the first two factors but not on the third. While we have gotten to the point of getting all requested textbook in on time, students have remained reluctant to buy them, purchasing less than 20% of the supply we have painstakingly acquired. We are working with students and faculty to understand this reluctance, and adjusting our textbook supply targets accordingly. One way to solve this problem would be to move entirely to e-textbooks, which would avoid the delivery delays of print material from America and Europe to Saudi Arabia. But we have found, as with all our collecting efforts, e-resources are not always available or the preferred format for science monographs. Only 25 to 30% of textbooks requested by our faculty are available as e-books.
By the end of year two after the opening of the KAUST Library, basic science collections and services were fully established and running well. That has allowed in year three (our current year) to concentrate on new library services that extent our responsibility into the realm of knowledge management. We are establishing a digital repository for collecting the output of our student and faculty authors; we have worked in partnership with the Chief Information Officer and his IT staff to prepare and implement a records management policy and records retention schedule for the University; we have been coordinating efforts with research and economic development offices to create an expertise system; we are staffing up our positions in archives and records management; and planning a science data management strategy for the University. Finally, we continue to explore outreach and cooperative activities with other libraries in the Kingdom and region. We are a member of UNESCO’s World Digital Library, active in the Gulf Special Library Association, and we have invited many guests to KAUST to help us understand local and regional library environment.
Implementing and Coordinating Library Systems
The KAUST Library’s resources and services depend on a robust technical infrastructure, including an integrated library system and digital repository that work in as parts of an enterprise computing system at the University. From its initial planning enterprise computing was a key strategic approach for KAUST as it builds its modern IT environment. This approach requires the KAUST Library to work closely with IT to ensure that library services integrate into the IT enterprise and that the Library takes full advantage of enterprise tools and resources such as the SAP system, Microsoft productivity tools, Apple equipment, the Documentum content management platform, and cloud computing strategy.
Unlike most universities, where computing has developed “willy nilly” and is often highly decentralized and redundant, KAUST IT and Library could, at least at the beginning, design its information technology services using the best practices and best tools and arrange them in a logical, efficient architecture.
Enterprise computing tends to be highly centralized and rational– “building a single technical infrastructure, designed as an organic whole, that spans an organization,”[Breeding, 2009], “a strategic concern for the total computing needs of the organization” [Madron, 1991]. As part of the enterprise approach, in the early startup period of KAUST, the Library was considered a unit within the IT division, and the system librarian was a staff member of the IT team rather than of the Library. In fact, any systems, computer, or IT specialist needed by the University was required to be part of IT unit as a way to help ensure centralized implementation of IT. Although this organizational approach soon loosened up, and the Library moved to the academic division reporting to the Provost, it did require the Library and IT division to build an effective and close working relationship. The Chief Information Officer (CIO) came to see the Library as one of the important components of information infrastructure and services. The Library Director saw his relation with the CIO as one of his most important connections on campus. In fact during this time period, the Library Director wrote an editorial for journal College & Research Libraries on “The Rise of the CIO,” and concluded, “The CIO and the Library Director’s jobs are changing. The CIOs role is clearly expanding. The Library Director’s role is not so clearly being redefined in an era where content, media, and technology services merge. Often these two executive positions are on different tracks, one administrative or operational, the other academic, but in reality they both need to straddle both sides of an academic institution. Most importantly both these executives need to coordinate and integrate aspects of their work and responsibility.” [Branin, 2009].
The Library has led or played a significant role in a number of systems and information services at KAUST, always in close cooperation with central IT. (There is really no other IT at KAUST.)The most fundamental system for the Library is its integrated library system (ILS), which uses the Innovative Interface’s Millennium system. All the basic modules of this system are employed; including the most advanced applications for managing and accessing digital resources – such as electronic resource management, link resolver, federated search, remote access, and advanced discovery. As part of the campus enterprise strategy, we are integrating the library system with other campus software such as the course management tool in Blackboard and the procurement and finance applications in SAP. We are part of the KAUST campus “single sign on” system, and the “Smart Campus” mobile portal. This summer we plan to move server support for our ILS from a local to a remote setting as we have already done with our digital repository service, all this part of a cloud or hosted computing strategy.
The library has always considered building an institutional repository as an essential element of its services. From his experience with one of the earliest and largest institutional repositories – the Knowledge Bank at the Ohio State University [OSU, 2009] – the KAUST library director brought his strategic vision and experience to help guide and plan the implementation of our digital repository. After careful review, KAUST chose open source DSpace as the technical platform, largely due to its large user group and mature open development community and forum. Through a rigorous bidding process, we selected BioMed Central’s Open Repository the best technical host for this service, based on cost, reputation, and service deliverables. Like all the other library systems’ implementation, the digital repository is integrated into the enterprise blueprint. Eventually, it will be fully integrated with ILS, Blackboard, and other campus applications, such as Documentum, so we can offer faculty and students a full array of storage, preservation, and access options for their intellectual output. The KAUST Digital Archive is in beta mode right now and will be rolled out to the public in September 2012.
During the first two years of the KAUST Library, we worked hard to establish basic science collections and services while taking full advantage of a beautiful and functional new library facility. We put special effort into our concierge service to make the building friendly and inviting to science faculty and students, a popular, central place for study, collaborative work, meetings, lectures, and events. We found starting collections and services from scratch exhilarating but demanding. We were not burdened by legacy, but we did not have well-oiled policies and procedures that are often taken for granted in established libraries.
We had no circulation policies, no technical services work flows, and a brand new integrated library system to install and learn to use. All of this in the context of a whole university and living community that was just setting up human resources, financial, security, and IT policies and procedures. The development of these basic policies and procedures --or more accurately the integration and fine tuning these new policies and procedures to work smoothly – has taken more time and effort than might be expected.
What our faculty and students wanted from us immediately was an attractive and functional library facility, networked access to the scientific journal literature, and textbooks for their courses. We met these requirements.However, our goal all along has been to create a complete modern science library that offers faculty and graduate students not only effective access to the published scientific literature, but moves beyond this to offer broader support for scientific knowledge management: expertise management, digital archiving, metadata services, and data curation.
Into our third year of operation of the KAUST Library, we have turned more attention to these scientific knowledge management challenges. We are securing the technical tools we need for these new challenges, but most importantly we are trying to establishing new, much closer working relationships with KAUST authors and scientific researchers. Our community’s small size, concentration on certain scientific areas, and our newness give us great potential to create these closer work relationships. Our subject specialists and all our staff offer good customer service, and through our basic collections work, library research training activities, and concierge services, we have built positive relationships with many students and faculty. We are stepping up to the new and more difficult political and relationship challenges of expanding the role of the library in support of the full lifecycle of scientific knowledge.
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Branin, J. (2009). The Rise of the CIO. College and Research Libraries, (70), 512-513.
Breeding, M. (2009). Libraries Thrive Through Enterprise Computing. Computers in libraries, 29(6), 34-36.
HOK. (2008). KAUST: Future Now for New University City in Saudi Arabia. Retrieved April 24, 2012, from http://www.hok.com/cfm/NewsArchiveDetail.cfm?instanceID=8b79fbd0-1422-77e3-d27ee9999cba3f98 HOK. (2012). Website. Retrieved April 24, 2012, from http://www.hok.com KAUST. (2010). Library Website. Retrieved April 25, 2012, from http://library.kaust.edu.sa/screens/page_collections.html KAUST. (2011a). Financial Operations Plan and Budget 2011-12, 5.
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KAUST. (2012). Library Staff Directory. Retrieved April 24, 2012, from http://library.kaust.edu.sa/screens/page_meetstaff.html Madron, T. W. (1991). Enterprise computing in higher education. T.H.E. Journal (Technological Horizons in Education), 18(11), 60-65.
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