Monash University Library Annual Report 2000
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2000 in review
The year 2000 has been a particularly challenging year for staff who coped with the multitude of changes and balanced ever-increasing work demands. Staff managed to take all the changes in their stride, and continued to focus on the provision of a quality information service to support the University's goals for learning, teaching and research.
In the context of the familiar decline in funding by the Federal Government to universities, and the consequent reduction in funding for library operations, rationalisation of resources continued during the year. The weak Australian dollar compounded the problems associated with an already depleted number of serials titles forced upon us by exorbitant rises in subscriptions and surcharges. The dollar and the impact of GST on the price of local publications were negative factors in expenditure of the library budget which remained at similar level to 1999. For serials, invoices from agents who charge in Australian dollars and supply journals published overseas reflected the greatest price rises.
The Library continued to tailor its information services to match the University's changing student profile and its emphasis on flexible learning programs. Off campus access to library services has been aided by the tremendous advances in technology. Further tutorials were developed for the Virtual Librarian to assist users off campus, the Library's web site was redeveloped with the focus on services provided across the various libraries rather than the previous site specific approach. Additional web subject pages were developed, links were added to Voyager catalogue to enable direct access to full text online journals and more publishers' holdings of serials were acquired, notably Elsevier ScienceDirect. Monash entered into a consortium arrangement with four other Australian university libraries to gain electronic access to journal titles published by Elsevier until 2002. The agreement allows Monash students and staff electronic access to the full text of around 750 journal titles going back to 1995. Of these titles, about 400 were previously unavailable at Monash.
Evidence of the Library's strong commitment to the provision of digital information is revealed in the following statistics as at December 2000:
- 176 online databases
- 121 CD-ROM databases (networked and non-networked)
- 54,379 full text holdings of ejournals and journals within databases.
Usage of electronic resources for the year was 2,832,124, a huge increase of 146.2% on the reported 1,150,568 accesses for 1999. These usage figures are obtained in a variety of ways and are becoming more readily obtainable directly from suppliers. Some figures need to be extracted from information supplied while others are obtained from another site to which directions are provided.
The Library has been developing a channel in the University's my.monash Portal. It is intended that the Portal will be heavily used by undergraduate students in particular as a one-step access point for relevant university and library resources. The Portal will be able to identify the user's needs based on enrolment and subject information able to be accessed from the University's student and staff database. Similarly, Monash University Library is participating in a consortium which was successful in obtaining an ARC Research Infrastructure - Equipment and Facilities (RIEF) Grant to research, design and test a way to implement a national portal access framework to the Australian research library system.
Along with the increased usage and availability of electronic resources, there was a slight decline from 1999 in use of library facilities. Despite the 10.6% decrease in visits to the Library, 2,359,852 patrons took advantage of the physical collections and services available from the various sites. Although circulation figures of items borrowed were marginally reduced - 1,000,462 compared with 1,114,873 in 1999 - this decrease was offset by an increased number of renewals, due mainly to patrons taking advantage of the online renewal facility in Voyager.
Global initiatives of the University ensured that the Library extended its range of services and licenses to overseas campuses in Malaysia and South Africa. Staff visits and exchange of information were made between the Malaysian and Clayton campuses. Planning of the South African campus library was done throughout 2000 and all was in readiness for the opening of the library in January 2001.
The Library is always mindful of its duty to provide quality, relevant services to the Monash community it serves. In September 2000, a highly successful web-based Customer Survey was undertaken to which over 1,700 completed responses were received. Detailed analysis of results for various user groups and sites has been undertaken since the survey in order to further improve services to users.
Staff from different units worked to streamline and improve access to library collections by undertaking three successful pilot projects, and by the end of the year library users were able to take advantage of the following additional service options:
- An intercampus loan service of monographs from any of the Monash libraries for all Monash staff and students
- An intercampus photocopy service for undergraduates with a flat handling fee of $2.50 per article
- An electronic inquiries service, e-Query, for Monash and non-Monash users.
These initiatives have extended the range of library resources and services to Monash staff and students regardless of their location.
Early in 2000, senior library staff met to plan the directions and strategies for the Library's activities during the year. The objectives and tasks needed to accomplish them were developed and subsequently refined following a series of forums involving most library staff. The resulting document Leading the Way Monash 2020: Monash University Library Operational Plan, 2000-2004 was linked closely with the key themes of the University's planning documents. University Audit and Risk Management staff conducted a session with senior library staff in which the strategies in the Library Plan were analysed and associated risks identified.
Planning and preparation for the integration of the Pharmacy Library into the Monash University Library system took place throughout the year. Technical services and document delivery functions were centralised at Clayton and arrangements made for the Pharmacy Library to be integrated into the Monash University Library committee structure. The full project will be completed by the start of 2001.
In May, the Working Party on Flexible Library Services undertook a review of lending services with a brief to enhance access to library resources. Positive outcomes of the work of the Working Party included agreement on policy changes to better support the diversity of clientele, specifically liberalisation of loans policies and strategies to improve off campus access to digital resources. In November, the brief was extended to include the new course delivery framework that had been approved by Academic Board.
In November, twenty senior library staff participated in an off campus retreat to set the strategic directions for Monash University Library into the future. The main objectives of the retreat were to
- Re-align the Library's Operational Plan with the University's Support Services Strategic Directions
- Explore the environment that we will be working in for the next five years
- Develop strategies to allow the Library to meet the challenges of the next five years.
The strategies that were developed are designed to transform the Library into a 21st Century organization by
- Establishing the infrastructure that will enable the delivery of integrated print and digital information resources
- Reclaiming the Library's position as the intellectual heart of the University by providing value added services, through active promotion and communication with our users and by delivering a quality customer service
- Creating people-focused learning spaces in all the libraries to support the objectives of Monash 2020 and the Learning and Teaching Plan
- Extending the global service reach of the Library through the provision of 24x7 services across the network
- Creating strong global and national alliances to strengthen the Library as a "virtual learning and knowledge organization"
- Developing self-reliance through an active program of fund raising.
In all of the above, we will rely on our core resource, the staff of the Library, to help us achieve the desired outcome.
With the University set to introduce Activity Based Costing in 2003, the Library must further identify the factors which best convey the true cost of library services. New ways of satisfying the requirements of students who may never come on campus, who demand a more professional and complete library service must be devised. Library staff must be flexible and keen to move in new directions to remain relevant in an environment which will be more fickle and more competitive, both within and outside the University.
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