Monash University Library Annual Report 2010

Download the full report (PDF, 0.34 MB)

2010 in review

Cathrine Harboe-Ree, University Librarian

Throughout 2010 Monash University Library contributed to the University's research, learning and teaching and local and international engagement strategies to attract and retain outstanding researchers and students.

Of special note are the excellence and continuing development of collections, both physical and electronic, the contribution librarians and learning skills advisers make to research, learning and teaching, major developments in capturing and promoting Monash's scholarly output and progress towards addressing serious issues with the two largest and busiest libraries, while re-engineering internal processes and systems for future developments.

Scholarly communication

We are in the middle of a revolution in scholarly communication and Monash University Library as much as, and in many cases more than, other academic libraries, has embraced the opportunities provided by new technologies and changes in research and pedagogy. The steady stream of Australian and international visitors to Monash, the request by the Australian Government for Monash to lead the Australian National Data Service (ANDS), performance in national surveys and a great deal of anecdotal evidence are testament to this.

Quality review

In 2010 the Library was formally reviewed for the second time (the first was in 2003). In its report the External Review Panel concluded that the University should be satisfied that the Library delivers a quality, customer-focused service that is aligned to the institutional mission and has strong and effective leadership and management processes (including robust project management and mature evaluation and quality improvement processes) in place. The Panel also noted that the Library adopts new opportunities and challenges arising from institutional or broader developments, is attuned to the University's values and has the trust and the confidence to either lead or work as partners or collaborators with other stakeholders. Panel members were particularly impressed by the creative and innovative ways in which Monash University Library is redefining the role of a 21st century university library in line with the institutional mission. This was referred to in the Panel's report as a paradigm shift.

Statistics

The statistics in this report give some indication of this paradigm shift, although the range of activities the Library is involved with provides a more complete picture. Statistically, usage patterns are changing. Physical loans decreased by 7%, in part reflecting increasingly unmediated access to collections, while use of electronic resources rose. Interestingly, visits to branch libraries,in toto, rose by 2.4%, reflecting both the improvements that have been made to the libraries and their importance as the largest learning spaces on each campus. Inquiries decreased by 10%, in part reflecting the growing impact of improved students' information research and learning skills, and as information becomes more readily accessible electronically. Document delivery activity has risen as Monash's research activity has increased, aided by improved software simplifying access to this service.

Facilities and collections

Visits to Library facilities exceeded 4 million for the first time, with Gippsland having the highest increase due to the popularity of the new learning space. Progress has been made towards the redevelopment of the two busiest libraries, through work with architects and the Facilities and Services Division to complete Feasibility Studies for refurbishment of the Caulfield and Matheson Libraries. It is likely that planning for an upgrade of the Caulfield Library will start in 2011, with renovations to start in 2012.

Strengthening of research collections has continued through acquisition and donations to special collections, with 45,000 new print resources added, resulting in growth of 1.4% overall. Also added were 24,000 electronic books, which is a rapidly growing part of the collection. The new collaborative off-site store (CARM 2), commissioned in 2010, will be used to support collection growth and ensure the Library makes best use of space on site.

Improving self help options, including more open reserve and open holds, have reduced fulfilment times for users and workloads for staff and, anecdotally, have increased use of these collections. The Pharmacy library achieved 90% of its loans through self loans. Related to these changes has been a design project undertaken with architects to reconceive service points as one of the major outcomes of a service points review, which investigated the way users interact physically and virtually with the Library.

Research and learning

The Library has actively promoted the use of e-learning strategies, tools, resources and services. This includes, in 2010, the implementation of new Lectures Online software and preparing for the introduction of a transformation in the way resources managed or licensed by the Library can be discovered. Starting in early 2011, new software (PRIMO, known locally as Search) will allow single searches from disparate sources, including the plethora of electronic resources licensed by the Library for the Monash community. Search will provide more Google-like access to these resources, and should result in a significant increase in their use as well as a reduction in the time taken to find relevant material. Most fundamentally, it also has the potential to transform information research skills programs for undergraduates. In addition, the Library has decided to become one of the collaborative partners in the development of new library software to replace the current library management system and transform behind-the-scenes functionality.

The integration of learning and information research skills development continues to yield outstanding benefits for the University's learning and teaching programs. Improvements in student performance have been reported for an increasing number of units that include integrated or embedded skills development programs. The Library also provides a range of other skills development opportunities and resources across faculty curricula, through generic programs and information sessions, 'drop-in' sessions and workshops and individual/group sessions for undergraduate, graduate, Higher Degree by Research (HDR) and 'at risk' students.

Of special interest in 2010 has been the introduction of the Research Skills Development Framework, developed at the University of Adelaide, which underpins a strategic approach to the integration of skills development into coursework. This is now being used extensively by Library staff as they develop partnerships with academic staff, identifying facets of inquiry and levels of student autonomy to provide a common language and make skill development explicit.

Monash University Publishing

The launch of Monash University Publishing in September was the culmination of a review of the ePress initiated in 2009 and flags important changes in the production, commissioning and coordination of scholarly publishing at Monash University. A focus on the publication of peer-reviewed, open access, web-based books, whose commissioning will be primarily through faculty-based editorial committees, has already initiated a significant number of new titles and the formation of specialist imprints. The new model will maximise exposure for the works being published and support the development of a stronger culture of publishing within Monash. Works will be available electronically or print-on-demand. They will also be actively distributed in print to bookshops and academic libraries.

Research data

Significant progress was made in 2010 to improve the University's ability to better manage research data. A research data management policy and related procedures were developed, and Library staff conducted training and information sessions for research staff and students. The Library also provides leadership for ANDS, a national strategy being led by Monash in conjunction with The Australian National University and CSIRO. Monash also received funding from ANDS to run a number of data capture and description projects, with the projects being led by the eResearch Centre, the Office of the Chief Information Officer and the Library.

By the end of 2010 the ARROW Repository held over 53,000 objects, including research data, details of research publications, research collection and electronic theses, as well as many other classes of material. The Repository is one means of ensuring that research data is better managed and provides a mechanism for greater access to, and promotion of, Monash's research output. The Repository was a key component of the University's management of Excellence in Research Australia (ERA), providing evidence of research activity.

Overseas campuses

The Library adds value to the campuses in Malaysia and South Africa through advice, collections (especially electronic resources) and systems and assists in building their capacity to become independent. In collaboration with the Office of the Chief Information Officer, support for the library management system (Voyager) for the Sunway campus is now provided from Australia, and arrangements for South Africa are under consideration.

Library staffing

Special achievements, worthy of specific congratulations, are two awards Library staff received this year. These are the Business and Economics team based at Caulfield, who were awarded a Vice Chancellor's Citation for an Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning and Sam Searle, the Research Data Management Coordinator, who received the 2010 Council of Australian University Librarians Achievement Award for leadership in research data management.
In 2010 the Library operated with a reduction in staffing levels by reorganising work areas, tasks and workflows. This process is ongoing, responding to a changing work environment and the University's budget targets. In addition, the Library has been closely involved with the development of Human Resources, Information Technology and Finance hubs, which are fundamentally changing the way central services are provided across the University. In order to ensure that it is able to anticipate or respond to these and broader scholarly changes, the Library ensures that as many staff as possible participate in professional development programs that are selected to address specific issues or skills requirements. The Library has a particular interest in leadership development, project management and change management.

As well as this overview the full report (PDF, 0.34 MB) includes the following appendices providing greater detail than can be included here:

  1. Progress against 2010 Plan
  2. Statistical summary
  3. Service Level Agreement report
  4. Visitors
  5. Publications, presentations, and memberships
  6. Library committees
  7. General Library Committee
  8. ePress Advisory Committee
  9. Copyright Advisory Committee
  10. Research Data Management Subcommittee
  11. Research Data Management Advisory Group