ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award

December 2002

The Newman Library serves Baruch College, a public, urban, commuter college in the City University of New York with schools of business, arts and sciences, and public affairs. The college has taken as its mission the education of future leaders in the public and private sectors, continuing a long tradition of successful alumni. The challenge for the library has been to deliver the level of resources and services consistent with this mission to 15,000 students and 800 faculty while relying on the limited funds available to a public institution.

The college demonstrated the prominence of the library in its priorities by opening a 330,000 square foot Library and Technology Center in 1994. The ambitious renovation of a nineteenth century cable car power station earned numerous awards including citations from the American Library Association, American Institute of Architects, Municipal Arts Society, and the New York Landmarks Conservancy. In addition to providing library users with an extraordinary space in which to work, the building includes a robust technology infrastructure to support the development of digital services for on-site and remote users.

The William and Anita Newman Library is an elegant, user-friendly facility that sustains a positive environment for information access and library service support. The constant high-volume use of the facility validates the vision under which the library was designed to "provide an attractive, useful environment for a diverse commuter student body and faculty." The library's location in the same building as the Baruch Computing and Technology Center provides students with a powerful one-stop shop for many of their information and research needs. -- From the "Report to the Faculty, Administration, Trustees, Staff, and Students of Baruch College, City of New York by An Evaluation Team Representing the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools," March 2000.

The faculty and staff of the library are committed to providing resources and services that match the user expectations consistent with a first rate facility. The library has concentrated on user needs assessment, planning, and evaluation to strategically allocate its financial and staff resources to the greatest benefit of its patrons. The 2000 Middle States Commission Evaluation Team noted:

The library faculty members have backgrounds and experiences that relate directly to the programs of the three schools. Library faculty members recruited over the last several years have been selected based on specific discipline-related or library expertise in mind. The library administration provides strong internal planning and organizational leadership. Outwardly, the library administration is active on College-wide committees, and works collaboratively with academic departments in the use of instructional technologies. Baruch has a strong library instruction program, including formal credit courses and a significant number of skills and subject-based workshops.

The library’s success in meeting the information needs of its key user constituencies is evidenced by a number of general indicators:

  • The library exit gate count exceeds 60,000 per month.
  • In a recent survey of undergraduates conducted by the university, the library ranked first among all services provided by the college. Of all survey respondents who expressed an opinion regarding library services, 94% said they were "satisfied" or "very satisfied".
  • Last semester the library received an award from Undergraduate Student Government for its attention to the needs of students.
  • The library consistently receives the highest satisfaction rating in the annual exit survey of the MBA students.
  • In 2000 the Baruch College Alumni Association polled its members and the library ranked first among all membership privileges.
  • In a 2002 survey of Baruch College faculty, 93% of the respondents who expressed an opinion regarding library services reported being "satisfied" or "very satisfied."

Below we provide specific examples of how the library has responded to a wide range of challenges in its pursuit of excellence.

I. Creativity and Innovation in Meeting the Needs of the Baruch College Community

Promoting Quality and Innovation through Planning and Assessment

Issue

In order for the library to increase its resources to support costlier core services and meet new demands from its users, it has to compete for limited college funds and opportunities for extramural funding.

Actions

In mid-1998 the library adopted a five-year strategic plan following a six-month process that involved all staff and a consultant-facilitator. The plan included a new mission statement and six key objectives. The mission statement and the plan are used routinely to guide decision-making and set priorities. As specified in the plan:

  • Budgets for divisions of the library are determined through a process that requires division heads to prepare an annual program plan, including goals for ongoing activities and new initiatives. Funds are allocated only after all program plans and associated budgets are reviewed. The library administration seeks funding for new program initiatives that are consistent with the mission and objectives in the strategic plan, and have merit, achievable goals and sound assessment plans. Mid-year program and budget analyses are conducted to yield funds for new initiatives.
  • Every 18 months a division or program of the library receives focused attention for assessment. The selected division prepares a self-study. An external review panel of librarians from peer institutions is recruited. The panel submits a report following a site visit framed by the self-study. The report is shared with all library staff. The division prepares a plan for addressing the issues raised in the self-study and the report in consultation with the library administration.

Outcomes

  1. Despite a flat base operating budget over the past five years, the library has added new programs through efficiencies achieved via the program planning process.
  2. By demonstrating diligence, the library has received priority in obtaining discretionary funds from the college and has been protected from cuts applied to other departments.
  3. The external reviews have aided in the development of successful program plans and supplied peer support for resources subsequently added to the participating divisions.
     

Serving Students with Limited Time on Campus

Issue

The library has to deliver services to students who have limited time to spend in the physical library. Baruch has an entirely commuter student population. In addition, two-thirds of the undergraduate students are employed off-campus, and two-thirds of that number work more than 20 hours per week. Special academic programs have also encouraged the library to expand its accessibility. For example, in 1999 the college established a program to deliver its MBA program to a cohort of students employed by an investment banking firm. This group would not be present on campus during most of their involvement in the program, so the library had to ensure that they were not disadvantaged in terms of access.

Actions

  1. In order to reach students with non-traditional schedules, not only does the library stay open 17 hours per day (and 24 hours per day during exam periods), but it also uses a variety of technological solutions:
    • The first proxy server at the college and the first one in the City University library system enabling students to access full-text research materials from over 150 databases.
    • A self-check machine permitting materials to be borrowed during extended night library hours.
    • Chat reference service, now in its second year of operation.
    • E-mail reference service.
    • Electronic course reserves.
    • Patron empowerment features not yet available in the university's integrated library system are offered via the library's website, including request forms for interlibrary loan, book renewals, recalls, workshop registration, and course reserves. 
  2. One-half of the 200 open workshops offered by the library each year are scheduled on weekends for the convenience of students who work off-campus during the week.

Outcomes

  1. Attendance at open workshops for 2001-02 approached 1,800 and continues to rise.
  2. More than 200 reference questions per month are answered via digital reference service.
  3. More than 17,000 book loans per year are transacted via the self-check machine.
  4. Over 20,000 electronic reserve loans are transacted per month.
  5. The library’s website logs over 2.7 million hits per month.
     

Serving a Diverse Student Population

Issue

US News and World Report designated Baruch College as the most diverse campus in the nation in its 2003 edition of America's Best Colleges. The library faces the challenge of supporting the rich diversity of cultures, languages, and perspectives of the population it serves.

Actions

  1. Library liaisons were charged with finding creative sources to develop the collection, in particular area studies, which had been disproportionately affected by past budget reductions.
  2. The library offered support for exhibits and events that explore intercultural issues.
  3. The library has recruited, retained, and promoted an outstanding staff as diverse as the community it serves.

Outcomes

  1. As a result of its outreach to other departments the library has been able to augment its multicultural holdings through donations: 
    • The Modern Languages Department arranged for the donation of over 400 works of contemporary Cuban literature from the Jiribilla Cuban Cultural Association. 
    • The department also enabled the acquisition of a collection from the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China. 
    • The Undergraduate Student Government established a Baruch Student Cultural Education Collection in the main reading room of the library as "an ongoing project that give students the opportunity to celebrate and investigate the many facets of culture and the diversity of literate expression." Baruch students select the materials using funds provided by Auxiliary Enterprises, a private non-profit corporation that manages vendor operations on campus. 
  2. Encouraging library staff to develop plans for multicultural events has yielded exhibitions, author readings, and performances. One photographic exhibit, "African Native Americans: We are Still Here," received considerable attention. It has been preserved on the library's website and viewed over 50,000 times since its debut in 1999.
  3. Forty five percent of the full-time library faculty members, including forty three percent at the associate or full professor level, are from traditionally underrepresented populations.
  4. In a 2002 university survey of undergraduates, 95 % of the African-American, Asian, and Hispanic students who expressed an opinion regarding library services said they were "satisfied" or "very satisfied". 
  5. By contributing to a positive multicultural campus environment, supporting the educational success of all students, and sharing its multicultural resources on the web the library has helped recruit and retain the students who earn the college’s national reputation for diversity.
     

Ensuring Access for Economically Disadvantaged Students

Issue

Despite one of the lowest tuition rates among four-year colleges in the United States, three-quarters of Baruch students apply for financial aid and two-thirds are determined to have financial need. One-quarter of the undergraduates report an annual household income under $20,000. A critical challenge for the library has been to develop services to ensure that students are not deprived of access to resources due to their low family income.

Actions

  1. The library’s aggressive pursuit of funds from university and extramural sources has made the following services possible:
    • A laptop loan program, which was initiated in 1998 as the number of electronic resources increased and we became concerned that students could become disenfranchised due to their lack of access to personal computers. 
    • Free interlibrary loan service to students, including undergraduates.
    • Textbooks on reserve for large lecture courses.
    • Student accounts that provide a semester allocation of free laser printing in the library.
    • Semester loans of graphing calculators to support work in Calculus courses.
    • E-reserve service, enabling to students to download rather than photocopy readings.
  2. The library has taken a leadership role in making available e-textbooks that students can use free of charge, as part of its strategic planning goal of promoting the instructional use of technology. In spring 2002 the library aided in the adoption of a single textbook for the introductory macroeconomics course. The negotiations with the publisher led to the availability of the full e-text for all students enrolled in the course, regardless of whether they had purchased the print text.
  3. In 2001 the library began providing a section of its 3-credit course "Information Research in Business" for students in SEEK, a New York State program that offers financial and academic support to students who demonstrate the intellectual potential to earn a college degree but lack the economic resources. The course was offered at the request of the program director, who recognized the importance of information competency to academic success after discussions with library faculty.

Outcomes

  1. The laptop loan program has transacted over 12,600 loans. In a survey of 152 users conducted in 2001 the mean rating of the program was 4.2 on a five-point scale.
  2. The textbooks for 124 courses are now on reserve and available for students who cannot afford to purchase them. Over 9,000 loans were transacted in the last academic year.
  3. The success achieved with the adoption of an e-textbook for introductory macroeconomics has led the college to pursue a similar arrangement for the introductory course in accountancy.
  4. Student evaluations of the section of the library credit course developed for the SEEK program have been excellent. The library course has become a standard offering of the program.
     

Providing Services to Graduate Students

Issue

In its academic plan for 1998-2002 the college identified graduate programs as a high priority for development and resource allocation. The library was faced with the need to meet this challenge without diminishing services to its large undergraduate student population.

Actions

  1. As one of its six strategic planning objectives the library pledged to develop a graduate services program consistent with the goal of the college to advance its graduate degree programs.
  2. The library designated a Coordinator of Graduate Services at the level of a division head and supplied a budget for graduate services based on an annual program plan. A semiannual electronic newsletter was established to inform students of resources and services.
  3. The Coordinator of Graduate Services developed a needs assessment program, consisting of focus groups and individual interviews.

Outcomes

  1. The library’s methodical assessment of graduate student needs led the Provost to select the library as the 2002 recipient of the Graduate Research Technology Initiative, a university program that funds technology initiatives to support graduate student research. This is the first time that the funds have been awarded to a department outside the college’s three schools. The $170,000 project will upgrade computing equipment in the library and increase storage allocations to graduate students to work with data sets.
  2. In a fall 2002 survey of 210 graduate students, 95% of the respondents who expressed an opinion regarding library services reported being "satisfied" or "very satisfied."
  3. Graduate student attendance at open workshops increased from 238 in 2000-01 to 770 in 2001-02. 
  4. Based on the needs identified in the focus groups and individual interviews, the College Advancement Office funded a new group study room in 2001.
     

Meeting the Research Needs of Faculty across Disciplines

Issue

The need to support 800 faculty across a diverse range of disciplines with limited funds has required the library to seek creative solutions. Baruch is home to the largest accredited school of business in the United States. Eighty-five percent of the undergraduate students major in a business-related discipline. However, the first two years of their curriculum are devoted to the study of the arts and sciences from a world-class faculty equal in number to the business school faculty. The college also has a nationally ranked School of Public Affairs whose faculty have distinct information needs that must be satisfied by the library.

Actions

  1. Since the limited budget for acquisitions had to be directed to the needs of students, the library committed to developing strategic partnerships to obtain the resources necessary to support faculty research.
  2. Following the recommendations of a library task force on strategic partnerships, the library reached an agreement with a prestigious postgraduate training institute to house its collection and charge its members an annual access fee that is restricted to acquisitions in psychology and psychiatry.
  3. The liaison program requires that librarians meet with faculty in other departments to discuss their research activities as a means of determining their information needs and research practices. Each liaison reports on this faculty contact. The ongoing reports are analyzed to identify service and collecting areas that need attention.

Outcomes

  1. Through its partnership with the training institute, the library acquired 10,000 volumes and tripled its acquisitions budget in an important subject area. In addition, the acquisition of this collection qualified the library for membership in the National Network of Libraries of Medicine and entitled the library to participate in DOCLINE, the interlibrary loan network operated by the National Library of Medicine. Thus, the library concomitantly strengthened its support for the college's MBA and MPA programs in health care policy.
  2. The information obtained through liaison contacts with faculty has guided the library’s participation in the cooperative licensing of databases to obtain access to materials outside the primary scope of its collection development policy. Joint purchases with other libraries have resulted in full-text access to over 26,000 titles. The library is now able to serve faculty in smaller departments such as Natural Sciences, Philosophy, and Fine and Performing Arts with a rich array of digital resources.
  3. As a result of library liaison efforts, Baruch’s three schools have helped the library acquire unique collections to support research by faculty and doctoral students. For example, the library houses the Archives for Municipal Finance and Leadership, which document the New York City fiscal crisis of the 1970s. The collection was established in 2002 with the acquisition of the archives of the Municipal Assistance Corporation. It is being supplemented with the private collections of prominent New Yorkers who helped lead the city to economic recovery.

II. Substantial and Productive Relationships with Classroom Faculty and Students

Working with Faculty and Administration to Promote Information Competency

Issue

In its strategic plan the library adopted information competency standards as the basis for the development of a cohesive curriculum. Successful efforts toward this goal required the support of both the college administration and faculty.

Actions

  1. In 1998 the Chief Librarian served on the President’s Commission to develop the five-year academic plan for the college, where he advocated for the adoption of information competency standards across the curriculum.
  2. By establishing a professional development program focusing on information competency principals, educational theory, pedagogy, and outcome assessment, the library strengthened its ability to promote informational competency through its liaison program with faculty.
  3. At the request of the Provost, the library faculty taught a full-day workshop on information competency to faculty who were teaching introductory English composition.

Outcomes

As a result of the above initiatives:

    • In 1998 the college adopted an academic plan that called for "the identification of general and discipline-specific information competency goals" and the creation of "a plan for the integration of information competency across the curriculum."
    • In 1999 a faculty committee issued a report recognizing that "information competency will play a critical factor in the development of Baruch College in the coming years." The report recommended strategies for identifying students’ information competency needs, ongoing professional development for faculty and attention to the skills of critical thinking, information synthesis, and the application of information to solving problems.
    • In 2000 the Provost invited the library to develop an information competency based curricular enhancement to the college’s Coordinated Freshman Year Program.
       

Teaching Information Skills

Issue

In its role as leader of information competency efforts at the college, the library faces the challenge of finding instructional venues to reach all students.

Actions

  1. Through pro-active interactions at the reference desk and via digital reference services, the reference staff provides a learning environment that emphasizes the reasoning process. Reference becomes not just a place for students to get information, but a place for point-of-need instruction.
  2. In order to target freshmen, in 2002 the library offered walk-in term paper clinics specifically designed for new college students. The instruction in these clinics is one-to-one and quite intensive. Not only are students taught how to identify their information needs and find appropriate sources, they are also taught to assess the soundness of the information they gather and to assess its relevancy for their research.
  3. Point-of-need instruction is complemented by a wide variety of other kinds of instruction, including the following:
    • Course-integrated instruction: Instructional modules incorporated in Baruch College courses across all subjects. Each provides seamless instruction with very specific reference to the course of which it is part. This allows students to acquire information competence in a discipline-based context.
    • Open workshops: Workshops for students throughout the college, on topics ranging from the general principles of information competency to details of specific business resources.
    • Faculty requested workshops: Workshops tailored to the needs of specific classes. These are provided at the request of faculty on as-needed basis. 
    • Student requested workshops: Workshops tailored to the needs of a specific group of students. The library offers groups of students the chance to request workshops for themselves, independently of faculty.
    • Credit courses: Courses to develop information skills and a critical understanding of the creation, distribution and consumption of knowledge. These range from introductory courses on research methods for undergraduates in arts and in business to a graduate level course created for students in the Masters program in journalism.

Outcomes

  1. The integrated approach has allowed the library to deliver information competency based instruction to a large number of students. During the 2001-2002 academic year:
    • Over 12,000 instructional transactions took place through the reference desk and digital reference services.
    • Course integrated instruction was incorporated in basic freshman composition and the freshman seminar, as well as in a variety of other courses throughout the college.
    • Attendance at open workshops doubled as compared with the previous year.
    • Faculty and students requested 253 workshops.
    • All nine of the three-credit courses offered by the library were fully enrolled.
  2. As a result of a series of faculty requested workshops, the Chair of the Black and Hispanic Studies Department created a course around the materials used in the workshops:

BLS 3020 Black History in Newspapers and Fiction: 1940 - 2000
3 hours; 3 credits
The course offers students the opportunity to explore Black fiction and Black newspapers from several cities from 1940 through the 1990s to learn the themes and details that characterized the lives of Black communities during the latter portion of the twentieth century. Black newspapers from the North and South will be used extensively.

Promoting the Pedagogical Use of Technology

Issue

Although the library makes a large collection of electronic resources available, faculty need guidance in creating pedagogical strategies that take advantage of them.

Actions

  1. To fulfill its leadership role in promoting technology-based information competency, the library created the position of Instructional Design and Support Specialist with funding from the college.
  2. The Instructional Design and Support Specialist developed a Blackboard FAQ website for faculty. The site not only contains basic information about Blackboard but also gives faculty advice about how to arrange for electronic reserves and to link to reserves from Blackboard.
  3. The library offers hands-on Blackboard workshops for faculty on a regular basis. In these sessions, the availability of electronic resources and strategies for their effective use of are discussed with specific reference to issues such as fair use and copyright.

Outcomes

  1. Library support has made possible the adoption of Blackboard by over 400 faculty in 527 courses. This represents a sustained increase of faculty involvement at a rate of 100% per year over the past three years.
  2. Faculty requests for support have progressed from fundamental skills that are now handled by the Blackboard FAQ site, to advanced features such as the use of interactive quizzes and e-discussions, and the incorporation of digital library resources.
  3. The Instructional Design and Support Specialist is now able to concentrate on helping faculty to explore new methods of presenting instructional materials online.

III. Leadership in Developing and Implementing Exemplary Programs that Other Libraries Can Emulate.

Partnering with the Business School in Trading Floor Instructional Programs

Issue

In 1999 the college announced a plan to construct a professional-level trading floor with access to real-time financial data resources. The challenge was to ensure that this world-class resource would be fully exploited by the college community to advance information competency.

Actions

  1. The Chief Librarian arranged with the college administration and the dean of the business school to involve the library actively in this facility, which would be named the Subotnick Financial Services Center. The library accepted responsibility for providing a substantial share of the instruction in the use of the information resources there. The Chief Librarian was appointed to the faculty advisory committee that guides the operation of the Center.
  2. The library recruited faculty with educational backgrounds and professional experience directly relevant to the development of instructional programs in the Center.
  3. A liaison team of librarians was appointed to collaborate with the Center. They were also charged with working with faculty in the business school to design instruction around research assignments based on data resources in the Center.
  4. The library created print and web-based instructional support materials.
  5. The library curriculum committee reviewed proposals for workshops and course-integrated instruction. The committee assisted with the design of instruction that is information competency based.

Outcomes

  1. By fall 2002 the library had taught over 100 workshops in the Center, along with 40 course-integrated sessions for undergraduate and graduate students.
  2. Faculty who have worked with library liaisons now use assignments that require students to gather time-series and cross-section data, perform statistical analyses, and present research findings. The use of real-time data enables students to apply financial and economic theories to real-world cases.
  3. Through its involvement in the Center, the library has been able to demonstrate to faculty in the business school how they can use real-time global economic and financial data to enrich their teaching and facilitate their research. As a result, the Executive MBA Program requires all incoming students to attend course-related lectures and other research database seminars.
  4. One of the members of the liaison team has been invited to teach a course in international finance in the school of business.
  5. The collaboration with the Finance faculty members on teaching has led to joint scholarship. The lead librarian on the project co-authored a journal article with a colleague from the business school (Liu, L.G. & Holowczak, R., "Using Reuters 3000 Xtra system for financial information education. Online Information Review 24, no. 5 (2000): 371-80). He is currently working with two faculty members in the Finance department on a study exploring the relationship between government fiscal policies and global financial markets, using panel data from Reuters.
     

Developing a Multilingual Virtual Tour of the Library

Issue

Baruch ranks first among master's degree institutions with respect to the percentage of international students comprising its total enrollment (Institute for International Education, Open Doors 2001). The library recognized that international students struggle to learn about the library as they deal with acculturation issues. A technological solution was sought to deliver the necessary content in the most understandable, convenient and welcoming manner.

Actions

  1. International students were interviewed to learn about their experiences using the library, including the success of orientation. In-depth face-to-face interviews were held with international students at Baruch. In addition, international students from other colleges were interviewed through a series of e-mail exchanges. The goal was to determine which issues were specific to Baruch and which applied more generally to academic libraries.
  2. In fall 2000 the library introduced a web-based virtual tour of the library in the nine most commonly reported native languages of Baruch students: English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Polish, Greek, and Turkish. Teams of students were employed to translate and edit the texts.
  3. The library shared the development of the tour in A.Downing, and L. R. Klein’s "A multilingual virtual tour for international students." ( College and Research Libraries News 62, no. 5 (May 2001): 500-2).

Outcomes

  1. The tour is used to introduce international students to the library prior to their arrival in the United States, as well as to supplement the on-site tour that is part of new student orientation.
  2. A non-English language version of the tour is used an average of four times per day.
  3. The project developed closer ties between student cultural organizations and the library.
     

Collaborating with Classroom Faculty on the Creation of an Electronic Textbook

Issue

One of the objectives of the strategic plan is to "collaborate with other academic departments to promote and facilitate pedagogical applications of information technology at Baruch."

Action

In 1999 the library developed a digital version of a text for a large survey course jointly offered by the English and Modern Languages departments. "Contexts and Comparisons: A Student Handbook for the Great Works Course," contains 300 pages of text authored by the Baruch faculty, augmented with hundreds of images researched by the library.

Outcomes

  1. Each semester 900 students use the text for free via a restricted link on the library’s website.
  2. The librarians and classroom faculty involved in the project presented their work at the college's Third Annual Teaching and Technology Conference on March 3, 2000. As a result, additional faculty members have approached the library for similar support.
     

Teaching Information Competency to Freshmen

Issue

In 1999, the library’s committee on Workshops, Lectures and Tours reviewed library instruction for freshmen and concluded that the workshops and lectures were ineffective, repeating the same information in successive contacts between library faculty and students.

Action

At the request of the Provost, the library developed the Freshman Research Experience as the primary vehicle in providing improved instruction to first-year students. It is a multifaceted

approach that has become an integral part of the college’s Coordinated Freshman Year Program. Currently it is comprises the following:

  • An introduction to library facilities and services:
    • A twenty-minute classroom presentation by a librarian.
    • A library assignment, including a self-guided tour, informational handouts and an interactive Blackboard-based quiz. This assignment is part of a non-credit Freshman Seminar required for all students.
  • An introduction to the principles of information competency, stressing the articulation of information need, and the location and evaluation of information for a research assignment:
    • Course-integrated lectures offered in the freshman composition courses at the request of the instructor.
    • Term paper clinics offering in-depth point-of-need instruction. The clinics are offered to coincide with the research assignment for the Freshman composition courses.

Outcomes

  1. The new systematic approach means that individual instructional components complement each other.
  2. A recent survey of Baruch freshmen indicates that 67% visit the library weekly and only 1% have never used it.
  3. The same survey indicates that 81% of freshman use electronic library resources and 30% report using them weekly.
  4. The comprehensive approach engendered in the Freshman Research Experience brought a larger number of library faculty into instructional activities, increasing the department’s emphasis on teaching as well as lowering the teacher-student ratio.
  5. A recent study of the students in one of the library credit courses indicated that students who had been through the Freshman Research Experience had a firm foundation that enabled further learning. Although all the students in the course scored at the same level in a pre-course information competency test, on the post-course test the sophomores who had been through the freshman program scored 50% higher than the juniors and seniors who had not been through the program.