Standard 7. Library and Other Information Resources - Appraisal
Over the last ten years, it became clear that Stonehill's administrative and learning management systems were simply not robust enough to accomplish the seamless integrated experience that we wanted for everyone-prospective and current students, faculty, administration. We have made major changes in leadership, committed extraordinary resources, and hired personnel to develop state-of-the-art systems that will enable student learning, student and faculty research, and administrative decision-making.
The core information systems at Stonehill (SCAN) are out of date. Because SCAN could not meet the specialized needs of many departments, those departments implemented systems to support their own needs. This has created a disparate collection of applications that are not fully integrated and that require duplication of information and effort. In addition, the primary application supporting teaching, Quickplace, does not meet the current needs of faculty or students. Furthermore, the current array of information systems does not provide easy access to data for users. Only a few technical users have access to create queries from SCAN. Since the systems are not fully integrated, reports and data come from disparate systems. Until this year, Information Technology leadership was reactionary and did not articulate an enabling vision.
Funding for technology has been adequate; however, decisions about which technologies and services to fund were not always coordinated within IT, communicated to the community, or fully implemented. Moreover, the physical and organizational separation of various groups has been detrimental to the efficient operation of the department, causing duplication of effort and uncertainty around responsibilities, both within the department and the within the user community. Staff members have not been trained in the technologies that they are required to support, which has contributed to the department being overly reliant on outside vendors and to a lag time in helpful responses to calls made to the Helpdesk. New leadership, new space (IT moved together into the Duffy Academic Center in Summer 2009), cross-functional training, and the new Banner and Angel implementations are critical leaps forward for Stonehill's effective and integrated use of administrative and instructional technologies.
Overall the library budget has been sufficient to support user needs. Budgeting for technology in the library has been has been somewhat less satisfactory. The lack of a consistent replacement cycle for computers has led to problems with older equipment in labs and for some applications. In addition, for a number of years the IT department did not provide up-to-date PCs for student workers. At times this affected both the library cataloging department and the college archives, since students in these departments need equipment that is equivalent to that used by the regular staff. This year (FY 09), we are seeing a change in this policy to reflect the actual requirements of equipment for our student workers.
The library staff is adequate for the size of the college. Experience in their current positions among the department heads varies from six years (Collection Development & Acquisitions) to 17 years (Circulation, Periodicals and Electronic Resources). Support for professional development has been consistent and librarians are able to attend local and national conferences, enroll in area workshops and take online courses to refresh or expand their skills.
Comments from the faculty indicate that our resources accommodate teaching and student research, and we have been able to meet requests for new books or subscriptions. In light of the college's increased focus on faculty and student research, we have encouraged the faculty to request materials intended primarily for their research, as well as those primarily supporting the curriculum. Our participation in the established interlibrary loan structure within the state and through OCLC will continue to enhance our research support. We will also continue to maximize the benefits of consortium memberships (NERL, SEMLS, Nelinet, WALDO).
Now ten years old, the library's physical space is still attractive and adequate for the number of students. We are aware of limitations; for example, ideally we would have more study rooms available, and it has sometimes been a struggle to provide sufficient wireless bandwidth to all parts of the building. An additional expansion of our wireless capability will probably be needed within 2-3 years.
Stonehill's use of instructional technologies is geared to reasonable constraints. One priority is to make available to early adopting faculty and knowledgeable users whatever resources they need, and we have done well with this group. At the other end of the spectrum are traditionalist faculty who are more mistrustful of the impact of technology. Between these two groups falls the largest group of faculty. The rate of their response to workshop, informational and training initiatives has been moderate, and it is clear that lowering the threshold of user access to technologies is a key to encouraging their use of technology. We offer services to these faculty members (scanning, image manipulation, audio and video production, assistance with course-related web pages and podcasting, classroom-related technologies such as "clickers"). Some of these individualized services will be absorbed in the functionality of the Angel LMS system.
Limitations will still exist: although 100% of classrooms are equipped with standard technologies, only a few modern control panels have been installed. Conversion of classrooms into "learning spaces" which take advantage of newer classroom technologies and designs is limited not only fiscally but also by the overcrowding of our current classrooms, which restricts the amount of reconfiguration possible. The old LMS, a customization of Lotus Quickplace, is not well integrated into other campus systems; its replacement will enable middle-adopting faculty to take advantage of a host of web-related technologies. Implementation of high-cost technologies, like lecture- or classroom-capture, has been deferred until their pedagogical value has been more clearly demonstrated.
The college does not have a full-fledged information literacy program that is integrated with the various academic departments. The Cornerstone Program of General Education continues to evolve and includes information literacy in its 2009 proposed outcomes-based revisions.