ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award

College of DuPage Library Application

Library Overview

The College of DuPage (COD) Library, an outcomes-focused community college library, has been open to all residents of Community College District 502 since 1967. The district population served by the library numbers some 955,000 residents in a 357-square-mile area encompassing DuPage County and parts of Cook and Will Counties, Illinois. The library is best characterized as an academic library that serves both its academic community and the public. It is the de facto public library for DuPage residents from unincorporated areas.

The library has set a challenging goal for academic service in its mission statement:

The primary mission of the College of DuPage Library is to provide services and to coordinate programs and collections, which support and reflect the purpose of the institution. The library also has a mission to promote the general cultural, recreational, vocational and career development needs of students, staff, and faculty as well as the community as a whole."

The library is essential to the mission of the College, which is "to be at the forefront of higher education, serving the needs of the community. The College will be the first place residents turn to for the highest quality educational and cultural opportunities. The College will serve as a model of distinction for community college education."

The library's formal Philosophy of Service, drafted and adopted by the library staff in 1994, supports the library's mission and serves as a guide for the delivery of service:

The library of College of DuPage serves a diverse community of users…. We broadly define our customer as any individual seeking information or knowledge…. Through our core services, we strive to support our users in their quest for knowledge. Those core services include:

  • The maintenance of a collection of materials chosen for their quality, diversity, currency, and relevance to the academic curriculum and the needs of the community;
  • The promotion of comprehensive and dynamic information services which support and enhance lifelong learning; and
  • The provision of a comprehensive program of user instruction which promotes library research skills in conjunction with critical thinking skills.

This foundational position has enabled the librarians and staff at College of DuPage to be proactive in providing creative, innovative academic programming and in taking a leadership role within the local, state, and national library communities. They have optimized their use of raw material inputs by employing a team approach that has culminated in significant outputs and exemplary outcomes that are worthy of replication by other libraries.
Creativity and Innovation in Meeting Identified Academic Community Needs

The 34,000 students who enroll each quarter in COD's academic programs and courses of study make up the primary group of library users who benefit from the program staff's creativity and innovation. The COD Library also serves the Illinois Virtual Campus Program. Additionally, the library is the open academic library of choice for more than 40,000 community borrowers who are active patrons. Anyone entering the COD Library during its 78 hours of operation each week is free to use all resources without registration, appointment, or affiliation.

The community served by the COD Library is extensive, according to the 1997-98 statistical survey compiled by library staff. The number of patrons who entered the library either physically or electronically that year was 635,985. Patrons checked out or renewed 470,728 items. The library's Reference Desk answered 115,761 reference questions. The Print Center assisted 101,601 patrons with photocopying needs. The library's College and Career Information Center assisted 46,691 patrons. COD classes booked 22,947 equipment and courseware items for classroom use. Students receiving classroom-based instruction numbered 17,237. Finally, the library filled 8,467 interlibrary loan requests. Clearly, the library enjoys high-volume use and provides a variety of services to a broad and active community of users that continues to grow.

The library's services are designed to support the following important outcomes:

  • programming that effectively serves new audiences;
  • innovative programming that addresses current educational, social, economic or environmental issues; and
  • programming and community commitment that enhance community life.

The following ten library services, designed to meet the needs of various constituencies within its academic community, are highlighted as examples of desirable outcomes that also serve as models of creativity and innovation for other libraries with similar needs.

  1. Library Technical Assistance Training: The COD Library provides resources and facilities for the College's Library Technical Assistant certificate program. The traditional program offered to students attending the Glen Ellyn, Illinois campus has recently been extended to the entire state as a distance education offering. Known as LTA Illinois, this statewide program was started with funding from the Illinois State Library. Now in its third year, the distance education program is proving highly popular and enrolling more students than its traditional, on-site counterpart.
  2. Satellite Teleconferencing: Over the past seven years, the COD Library has served public, school, academic, and special libraries across the nation with its major staff development and training teleconferences. These programs, Dancing with Change, Soaring to Excellence, and National Issues and Local Decisions, have addressed the essential training needs of library paraprofessionals working in libraries of all types to serve current patrons and to position themselves to serve patrons of the future. These successful programs have reached thousands of libraries and trained tens of thousands of paraprofessionals and librarians in communities across the nation through the technology of satellite delivered programming. This year's offering, Periodical Database Teleconference: A National Forum, was supported by The Gale Group, H.W. Wilson, OCLC and UMI.
  3. Ameritech InterConnect Intergenerational Information Literacy Program: A new Ameritech-sponsored program addresses the growing information needs of two populations that have great potential for capitalizing on the use of electronic information technology. College of DuPage Library will offer the Ameritech InterConnect program to two distinct groups in need of information literacy training: older adults and high school students from throughout the community college district. The selection of the high school students is based on socio-economic criteria, and will represent an opportunity for bringing these community members into the mainstream of our information society. High school students and older adults will learn to take full advantage of electronic information resources to find information and solve problems quickly and efficiently. The program is designed to bring two generations together to help develop information literacy skills and encourage lifelong learning. Younger and older students in the program will emerge with skills that will give them a needed head start in an information-based society. This program represents the library's contribution toward "bridging the digital divide."
  4. Kids/Teens on Campus: This unique program enrolls students in grades five to ten in non-credit instruction that supplements regular school instruction. Librarians provide subject-based library instruction to students enrolled in these classes. The library also supports this program by providing space, library services and computer access for young children of working parents who are supervised by program staff before and after each summer school day.
  5. English As a Second Language (ESL): The library makes an effort to enhance the collection that supports English as a second language students and non-readers in the district. Specialized ESL materials are carefully integrated into the collection and given a specific designation that enables this population to identify them. Library staff collaborate with the College's faculty teaching English as a Second Language and Adult Basic Education, serving more than 6,000 students with limited English proficiency each year.
  6. People with Special Needs Program: Some students and community members have unique needs associated with disabilities. The College of DuPage Library has sought to provide materials, electronic resources, and assistance to these individuals to help give them access to the information they need. "Reading Edge" equipment are available that actually "read" books to visually impaired patrons, who need only open the book and place it down on the machine. Optical, electronic and other types of magnifiers are available for use in the library. Wheelchair-accessible computer workstations and study carrels are also available.
  7. College and Career Information Center: Popular with students and community members alike, this center includes a collection of college, educational, career and job-hunting materials. It houses more than 600 college catalogs on its shelves, as well as 10,000 college catalogs available online, and videocassettes that provide campus visits to colleges across the nation. The various books and pamphlets in the center's college section provide listings of scholarship and financial aid information, extensive test review books, as well as information concerning alternatives to traditional educational programs and guides for studying in foreign countries. DISCOVER, Horizons, and SIGI Plus computerized college and career planning programs, which offer information on thousands of colleges and universities and hundreds of occupations, can be accessed on library computers. Together these programs offer a career guidance and educational information system for all community members.
  8. Business Resources Program: The College Library acquires print and non-print materials that specifically address the needs of the local business community. Special business resource workshops are conducted in partnership with the Business and Professional Institute at the College. These efforts to meet the needs of local business have been well received and have elicited interest and support from the business community. Many of the library's cadre of core community users come from local businesses. The College Library is quickly becoming a gateway to information for businesses and corporations in the district. Library staff regularly conduct in-depth workshops and sessions for local small- and medium-sized businesses requesting presentations. Additionally, the college's business librarian regularly offers a workshop on business resources to area librarians through the Suburban Library System and DuPage Library System.
  9. Student and Community Orientation Tours: Large libraries with "miles" of stacks can be intimidating to students and local residents who are accustomed to a smaller library environment. The library regularly offers both students and the public orientation programs to become acquainted with the library's facilities and services. A staff librarian provides a friendly and inviting introduction to the world of information at the College of DuPage Library. Staff lead the frequent, open, barrier-free opportunities for students and community members, introducing them to the world of information access. Students and the public can also attend classes on Internet resources and search strategies.
  10. Community Computing: The College of DuPage Library provides all district residents with public access to computer terminals. This is an important service, since there are more than twenty local communities that cannot offer full computer use and Internet access through their local libraries. The library's computer facilities are open to all without filtering or barriers. One of the most significant recent innovations in the library is the development of the "Scholars' Workstation," which is a web-based menu of software, databases and library catalogs. After dispensing this access through all 100 of the public computer terminals, the library staff studied the impact of this change on patterns of use. Staff members were surprised to find that chat room champions and e-mail enthusiasts did not crowd out the "serious" library user. In a weeklong study conducted by the Reference Support Staff, the library found that its computers were being utilized at a rate of 90-100 % of capacity during peak daytime hours, and throughout much of the week. Complaints by patrons who could not find an available computer to conduct "real" library work have been minimal and easily resolved. The ease of access to the web-based menu means that the entire community has 24/7 access to the COD Library Catalog, reference and newspaper sources, InfoTrac Databases, FirstSearch Databases and ILLINET On-Line. The library's unrepressed philosophy of computer access together with its state-of-the art computer terminals has leveled many of the differences between large and small communities, between rich libraries and less affluent libraries, and between patrons with computer access and those patrons without such access. The College has positioned itself as a unique provider of community computing services, and is recognized as such by all public libraries in this service area. The library receives a steady stream of patrons in need of computing services who have been referred by neighboring public libraries. In addition to these referrals, it is estimated that there are more than 60,000 district residents living in unincorporated areas. For these residents, many of whom are students, the College Library is the primary provider of computing services.

Leadership in Developing and Implementing Exemplary Programs for Emulation

The Library at College of DuPage has earned a reputation as a team player. Its staff has played a leadership role in engaging local, state, and national partners - those institutions or organizations working with the Library in developing and implementing its innovative learning programs. These productive partnerships include corporate, library, and community representatives.

Corporate partnerships: In the corporate world, the library's newest partner is the Ameritech Corporation. Ameritech recently provided funding for the intergenerational information literacy program described earlier in this narrative. Now in development, that program will serve young adults and senior citizens. The COD Library also supports the information needs of McDonald's Hamburger University, an international training program for the McDonald's Corporation that is located in the College's service district. Corporate sponsors of satellite teleconferences have included Bell & Howell Information Systems, World Book Educational Products, Apple Computers and IBM.

Library community partners: Partners from the library world include many of Illinois' twelve library systems, notably, the DuPage Library System, Chicago Library System and the Northern Illinois Library System. The DuPage Library System, which is the College's home library system, regularly participates in grant-related projects with the College Library. The library also collaborates with local public libraries to improve the level of library service to the community and to plan for future direction. The COD Library is an active member of NILRC, a consortium of Midwest community colleges, four-year colleges and universities. This organization informs and organizes its members to participate in activities like group purchases or pilot projects. The library also participates in the Illinois Cooperative Collection Management Program, an Illinois academic library partnership that focuses on strengthening information resources.

Community college Resident Librarian program: An additional "first" in the library community is the establishment of a two-year residency program for a new library school graduate. This innovative program allows a new library school graduate to rotate through the various service areas of the community college library, thus gaining broad familiarity with a variety of academic library career possibilities. The first Resident Librarian to enter this program at College of DuPage will complete her two-year appointment at the end of Spring Quarter 2000. This program has generated much interest among other community college libraries, and has become a model for replication.

Community service: Service to the community has a strong tradition at COD, and the library is no exception. The dean of the library has served both the DuPage Library System and the Naperville Public Library in a volunteer capacity by offering those groups advice and support, as well as opportunities to collaborate and to share resources with patrons. Following this lead, library staff perform similar community service. One organization that benefits from library staff volunteer time is Healthy DuPage, an organization that promotes health and social services among DuPage residents.

Assessment: As part of its ongoing effort to take a leadership role in developing exemplary programs for replication at other libraries, the College of DuPage Library has been proactive in its ongoing use of assessment of both academic and community programs. The College of DuPage Library participates in a college-wide assessment activity for evaluating the students' and the community's responses to its programs. Assessment is a real test that is professionally and objectively conducted through ongoing academic assessment initiatives, to be described in the following section of this narrative, as well as through random interviews in the community. These interviews indicate that among College units, the library enjoys some of the strongest community support.

Communication: Strong communication initiatives also contribute to implementing successful model programs. Each of the 375,000 households in Community College District 502 receives the Quarterly, a comprehensive listing of the College's courses and program offerings. The library uses this publication to keep the public informed about new program initiatives and available resources. The library's move to a totally web-based system, described in the following section of this narrative, was recently featured in a special pullout section of the Quarterly.

In order to maintain high quality service, the library aggressively seeks grant funding from private and governmental sources. Successful grant applications to the Illinois State Library have resulted in considerable assistance that has augmented the resource base and allowed the library to develop LTA Illinois to extend services, programs and support throughout the state. The library has grown in both its community penetration and quality of services over its 32-year history. In short, the COD Library is not content simply to ensure ongoing service; it strives for greater outreach and depth of service as it opens its doors each day.

Substantial and Productive Relationships with Classroom Faculty and Staff

The College of DuPage classroom faculty and library faculty work as a team to provide students with information literacy skills. The numbers are an indication of the success of the team approach. About 800 information literacy sessions are provided annually with an average of 17,000 students attending both on-campus and off-campus sessions. A session may include a lecture, a computer demonstration of an electronic reference database, or hands-on training in the library's computer classroom. With the growth of the college's offering of online courses, the library faculty is also providing instruction via E-mail, Web boards, and online course management software.

There is strong and active interest among classroom faculty in integrating library assignments into course curricula as a means of providing students with an opportunity to learn how information is organized, disseminated, accessed, evaluated, and used. The library faculty has engaged in this endeavor throughout the process, from design of assignments to delivery of instruction through assessment of learning. This partnership has been a key to the growth and success of the information literacy skills program at the College of DuPage Library.

Assessment has become a critical academic program improvement tool for the library, as previously mentioned in this narrative. During the past four years library faculty have been active in the College's Student Outcomes Assessment program since the formation of a college-wide assessment committee. A librarian serves as editor for re:Assessment, the official committee newsletter distributed to all faculty and administrators. In addition, several librarians have used Classroom Assessment Techniques to improve the learning environment in their library instruction classes.

An assessment component has also been built into the library's Web site, with plans for expansion, and an assessment segment will become part of the Web-based library instruction module that is nearly complete and ready for installation. The library's Web site is the gateway to information searching for students, faculty, and community users. Electronic library resources, such as the online catalog, electronic article indexes and reference databases, as well as Web sources, including lists of search engines and directories, are accessible from the library's Web page. The library's Web page is the main menu for more than 100 computers that are available for public use in the library. In addition, the library's online catalog and 39 of the 50 electronic indexes and databases are available via off-campus connection to registered library users, most of whom are College of DuPage students.

The recent redesign of the library's Web site reflects the staff's conscious effort to guide users through the steps involved in the research process. A new section, Research Help, is designed especially for student use. Research Help links to a newly developed Web-based library instruction tutorial. This interactive instructional guide will be used in a research study during Winter Quarter 2000. Approximately 100-150 students will participate in the experiment aimed at measuring the effects of library instruction and the use of technology on student performance. Research Help also provides a list of Subject Research Guides and Faculty Bookmarks, prepared by librarians in liaison with teaching faculty. There are currently 11 Subject Research Guides and 18 Faculty Bookmarks. Librarians have also produced Web pages that are used to teach information literacy to six specific classes engaged in library research projects. The library has assigned a librarian to each course available through the Online College.

Other features of the Library's Web site that support students and faculty are Reference-By-Email, home shipping of articles and books from the library's collection, and a feedback form. A site map and search engine help to make the gathering of information a quick and productive experience for all Library users.


Creativity and innovation, leadership, and substantial, productive relationships within the academic community - these hallmarks distinguish the College of DuPage Library as it enters its thirty-third year. This library has worked tirelessly to support the College's mission to be at the forefront of higher education. The library is one of the first resources that residents in DuPage County and beyond turn to for help with meeting their information needs. Throughout its history, the College of DuPage Library has created and has offered special programs and services that have been emulated by other community college libraries. There is abundant evidence to support the contention that the College of DuPage Library is a model among its peers, several of whom have expressed indebtedness and support in the attached letters.