24:3 (2009:09) 24th Conference: Tactics Session: We Deliver

September 11, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Posted in Conference Reports, Tactics Sessions | Leave a comment

We Deliver: Overcoming Microform Collection Access Issues with Electronic Delivery

William H. Weare, Jr., Access Services Librarian, Valparaiso University
Reported by Michael A. Kardos

A mind, 600,000 pieces of government microfiche, and 325,000 other microforms are terrible things to waste.  In this session, Weare described a library pilot project to deliver microform content electronically.  He started by giving a snapshot of Valparaiso University, the Christopher Center for Library and Information Resources, and the library’s microform collection.  There are over 900,000 microform units, two microform readers linked to two computers with image scanning software, and three older generation microform readers in the collection.  Unfortunately, Weare noted, the collection was rarely used by patrons.

The original microform collection operated under a self-service model which required the patrons to use the microform readers and image scanning software themselves.  The microform collection, although located next to the circulation desk so patron assistance was available, was “not a hub of activity,” according to Weare.  The equipment and software were adequate but intimidating for the average patron.  The image scanning software used was image.SCAN, developed by Image One of Tampa, Florida, for Canon microform readers.  For several reasons, using the software was difficult and confusing for patrons.  For example, the software was designed for a kiosk but sat on a computer, patrons could not save the images to a CD-ROM or portable drive, documents could not be delivered electronically, and, the software occasionally crashed.

Weare’s solution was to move from a self-service model to a service-desk model.  Access Services, in cooperation with Interlibrary Loan (ILL), initiated a pilot project to electronically deliver articles and documents from the microform collection.  The pilot project, available only to undergraduate students, enabled students to request material from the microform collection using the same process as they would for any ILL request.  ILL staff locate the microform and give it to Circulation student employees to scan.  The scanned documents are returned to ILL, who deliver the documents electronically to the student.  This free library service attempts to process requests within one business day.  The library is also currently conducting pilot training sessions with undergraduate students to use the microform collection, readers, and software.

The pilot project has been successful despite the library having done virtually no marketing for the project.  To improve the process the library wants to upgrade the scanning software and equipment, formalize policy, assign specific staff duties, and improve coordination with ILL.  For more information on Valparaiso’s document delivery pilot project, visit http://www.valpo.edu/library/ill/docdelivery2.htm.


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