Monash University Library Annual Report 2011

Download the full report (PDF, 0.28 MB)

2011 in review

Cathrine Harboe-Ree, University Librarian

"Nothing endures but change." From Lives of the Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius

When the printing press was invented libraries with their beautiful collections of manuscripts went into decline but then gradually reinvented themselves as caretakers of print collections. As information becomes increasingly electronic traditional library functions are changing, often dramatically so. Of greater importance now is provision of access to information, rather than management of rapidly increasing physical collections. Use of physical facilities has changed but remains heavy, as our libraries have been recreated as responsive learning spaces. Drawing on its scholarly communication expertise, the Library is emphasising new roles such as publishing, research data management expertise and stewardship of the University's research collections. Of all of these changes, one of the most important is the emergence of skills development based on pedagogical and research principles.

During 2011 Monash University Library achieved significant change and development associated with its staff, services and infrastructure. The implementation of the Search resource discovery layer, the major upgrade of the MULO (lectures online) software and the commencement of upgrades to the Matheson Library have been major initiatives improving the user experience. Progress has also been made towards a major redevelopment of the Caulfield Library and it is anticipated that this will greatly increase the capacity and amenity of the Library on that very busy campus. The rebranded Monash University Publishing made significant progress in developing its new business model and systems and finished the year with a notable expansion of its titles.

This progress was achieved against the background of the continued implementation, through the Monash Futures initiative, of an ambitious suite of programs designed to enable the university to best respond to fundamental changes in its domestic and global context. Major outcomes of the Academic Strengthening stream within Monash Futures led to the completion of the Education Strategic Plan 2011 – 2015 and the Research Strategic Plan 2011 – 2015; Library staff played integral roles in the development of both plans. This engagement is exemplified by the adoption of the Research Skill Development (RSD) Framework as the backbone of the Monash Passport, which defines the University's educational model. Shared Services implementations in the Finance, Human Resources and Information Technology divisions, also a part of Monash Futures, has led to major restructuring of library staff roles and workflows.


The Library's new resource discovery layer Search provides users with a "Google-like" discovery experience accessing the wide range of quality research information the Library manages. Search went live in January 2011 and in response to user feedback the vendor has continued to develop its look, feel and functionality.

Monash University Publishing

The rebranded, relaunched Monash University Publishing refined and extended its new business model, which focuses on books rather than journals with scholarly titles being published 'open access' online, ensuring that the reach of these works is maximised. Quality print versions of Monash University Publishing titles are also sold through bookstores, complementing the open access impact. Commissioning of new titles is largely undertaken by Editorial Boards in Monash University Faculties or Research Centres, with titles outside the scope of the Boards being managed directly by Monash University Publishing.

New publishing software and processes save time and enable greater design flexibility and improved aesthetic quality reflecting the scholarly value of the subject matter. In 2011 seven new books and two journals were published. Eight more books will be published shortly.

Research Skill Development Framework

The Research Skill Development Framework takes a strategic approach to the integration of skills development within curricula. The framework is being used by the Library in partnership with academic staff, to provide a common understanding and make skill development explicit in curricula. The potential of the RSD Framework has been recognised to the extent that it has been included as a key component of the Education Strategic Plan.

Virtual Learning Environment

The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is a joint initiative to provide more intuitive, mobile and innovative online learning and teaching environments for staff and students. Several Library-based projects are making important contributions to the VLE, including Aspire, Equella, Echosystem and the eLearning Strategy.

Online Reading Lists

Online reading lists are central to the Readings and Reserve service. The new Aspire software has the capacity to provide staff and students with an interactive interface and to streamline work processes, resulting in more efficient and effective online reading lists. Following testing it was trialed in December 2011 for summer semester reading lists.

Lectures Online

Monash University Lectures Online is a popular and important service for the University's teaching and learning activities and a component of Monash's developing Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Managed by the Library, it is one of the largest installations in the world using the Echosystem software and in terms of numbers of lectures captured per teaching week.

In October Monash University Lectures Online participated in an international benchmarking survey of Echosystem customers to gather quantitative and qualitative information regarding the Echosystem lecture capture technology. Overall, Monash University students were satisfied (85.7%) with the lecture capture technology and also offered suggestions for improvement to the current service.


Equella repository software was adopted in late 2010 as the Library's online environment to manage learning materials. During 2011 Library use has grown to include several hundred items. The University endorsed the recommendation that Equella be adopted as the enterprise educational technology to meet its content repository needs.


Caulfield Library

Redevelopment of the Caulfield Library is a top priority for the University. A feasibility study was completed to inform its expansion and refurbishment, however initial costing for the project is unachievable. The Library and the Facilities and Services Division have started a process to review and refine the recommendations. The University's commitment to the project remains unchanged.

Matheson Library

A rolling program of modest improvements has begun following confirmation that no major refurbishment project is possible. $500,000 was made available from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) portfolio to purchase new more comfortable and functional furniture and a large number of additional power outlets. Library funds have been used for minor internal work and painting. Over the next three years the physical space within the Library will be rationalised to make the building more logical and useable. Students have responded positively to the new works.

Research data management

Research data management activities coordinated through the Library in 2011 concentrated on the areas of governance and policy; information and advice; knowledge and skills; collaboration and leadership; discovery and dissemination; and improving research data management in practice. Library staff contributed to planning activities for national research data infrastructure, largely associated with the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) and the Research Data Storage Infrastructure (RDSI) initiative. Library, eResearch and eSolutions staff drafted a research data management strategic plan for the University and contributed project concepts in data planning and data management skills, ran exPERT seminars for PhD students and engaged with researchers from many discipline areas. Library staff have presented at national and international events and provided research data interview training seminars for liaison librarians at the Universities of Melbourne and Tasmania. Monash University continues as the lead agency for ANDS and through this role Library staff have ongoing input to the Service's strategic and operational development.

A specific focus within the Library during 2011 was the ANDS-funded Research Data Collections Project. The project team interviewed almost 50 Monash researchers about their data collections, with a view to showcasing these via records contributed to Research Data Australia.

Survey results

Staff survey

Almost half the Library staff contributed to the May 2011 Monash University Staff Satisfaction Survey. The Library staff score for overall engagement dropped 6% from the response in the 2009 survey to 76.6%, but this is 2% higher than the 2007 response level. Analysis shows that overall the Library staff satisfaction ratings are higher than the rest of the University, however it also shows that in some areas the change programs initiated by the Library and the University are causing concern.

Insync user survey

In the two years since the last user survey Monash University Library has achieved a modest improvement in overall performance with a score of 76.6%, up from 76.1% in 2009, but user satisfaction dropped slightly to 5.37 from 5.46. The Library performed highest in the category of library staff with a score of 86%, an increase of 1.3%. The lowest score was for facilities and equipment at 68.2%, a 0.9% decrease. The increases recorded were modest compared to the sector-wide improvements that have taken place across all categories. As a result the Monash University Library ranking in participating Group of Eight (Go8) Libraries on the weighted performance index and satisfaction rating has dropped to 3rd and 5th respectively. This result probably reflects the significant building programs underway in most other Go8 universities.


Faculty of Business and Economics, Dean's Awards for Excellence in Teaching

Leanne McCann and Lyn Torres with Glen Croy and Susan Mayson from the Department of Management were awarded a Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching. They used an innovative implementation of the RSD Framework, as a continuation of their involvement in an Australian Learning and Teaching Council grant. The team's approach to assessment and assessment feedback has improved the students' learning experience and motivation. This unique approach to developing students' skills has been extended to other faculties as a result of the work done in Business and Economics.

King Sihanouk medals

In December 2011, medals were presented at a special afternoon tea to recognise work done to catalogue the Norodom Sihanouk Archival Collection. The first stage of a digitisation project has also been completed. The collection was bequeathed to the University in 2004 by the former King of Cambodia, Norodom Sihanouk (who ruled from 1941–55 and 1993– 2004) and contains a significant part of his personal archives. Staff who received the awards were: Hueimin Chen, Asian Studies Assistant; Cathrine Harboe-Ree, University Librarian; Michelle Rusiniak, ARROW Content Development Librarian; Bronwyn Foott, ARROW Content Officer; Dr Aline Scott-Maxwell, Senior Asian Studies Librarian.

Vice-Chancellor's Social Inclusion Award

Through the Social Inclusion awards, the Vice-Chancellor, in conjunction with the Equity and Diversity Centre, recognises those who have made a positive contribution to social justice and human rights. Caulfield Library staff member Jill Walker was a joint recipient of a team award for significant contributions to Equity and Diversity in her role as a Discrimination and Harassment Grievance Adviser.

Statistical trends

Care is needed in the interpretation of statistics relating to activities and collections in the Library. For example, while the Library print collection grew by 1% in 2011 to just over 3.3 million items, the number of eBooks grew by 14% to 417,000 and the number of eJournals increased by 28% to 78,000. Not unexpectedly the continued downwards trend in loans and renewals continued in 2011. These reflect a shift to greater use of electronic resources, accompanied by changes in borrower entitlements and access to more flexible renewal and return conditions. For the first time in almost a decade the overall number of visits to the libraries, measured by door count, decreased. At the same time, a significant drop in the throughput of library-based printers occurred. These statistics may reflect the shift to electronic submission of student assignments.

As well as this overview the full Report (PDF, 0.28 MB) includes the following appendices providing greater detail than can be included here:

  1. Progress against 2011 Plan
  2. Statistical summary
  3. Service Level Agreement report
  4. Visitors
  5. Publications, presentations and memberships
  6. Library committees:
    • General Library Committee
    • Monash University Publishing Advisory Committee
    • Copyright Advisory Committee
    • Research Data Management Subcommittee
    • Research Data Management Advisory Group.