AU Libraries Count! … Literally!

AU Libraries Count!  Literally!cur_george

Yay libraries!  Everyone values libraries. Who could not love the place that loaned you your first Curious George book?  Or saved you during that hellacious all-nighter on “Nietzsche Meets James Joyce: an Anthropologic Investigation into The Quantum Mechanics of Prose”?  Whether it’s following the Man in the Yellow Hat or citing Hawking’s History of Time, we have all been influenced and rescued by a “good library”.   The value of a good library has rarely been challenged.  For generations, the simple co-location of materials, services and expertise assured a measure of all-around “goodness.”
But things have changed.  We have entered an “e-everything” world: E-Books, E-Journals, E-Collections, E-Reserves, E-Zines, E-Publishing, E-Reference, E-Scholarship, and so on.  Many of our most valued resources and services are no longer bound by “place.”   No longer will a high “gate-count”, or a huge number of volumes, a special collection, a quantity of on-site services, or the availability of librarian expertise truly indicate the real value of a library.
Alright then, how can libraries capture and measure their real value?  Well, we do it the old fashioned way.  We count!  Only by collecting and studying meaningful details of your interactions with us can we best express our concrete impact to our community and plan for strategic improvement.  We count a wide variety of interactions that make a difference to your success. Some of the statistics we count are obvious, but we also analyze interactions you may not even recognize as library services.   As a result, the AU Libraries can assure you that you will receive better and more efficient service.  We are measuring a great deal about how, why, where, and when you use the library and we are learning what ways our libraries have value and meaning to you. 
Here are just a few of the things we are analyzing:

  • How you use the library on campus and at a distance
  • Your most frequently asked questions
  • Time required to help you
  • Which curriculums/assignments need most assistance
  • Which services/resources you use (or don’t use)
  • Time of day/week/month/year you use services
  • Most common issues with our services/resources
  • How service is delivered (phone, text, in library, on the street, drop in, department, etc.)
  • Number of instruction sessions we teach, to whom, on what topics, etc.
  • Collaborations with instructors
  • Website usage, including popular research paths, visitor locations, usage patterns, and electronic library guides
  • Remote loaning/borrowing and document delivery transactions  (what are we borrowing/lending, to/from who, in what areas, when, etc.)

From data like this we discover where we can:

  • Improve staffing patterns and locationslan-dash
  • Enhance or introduce new services
  • Improve current services
  • Discover both strengths and weaknesses in our collections
  • Learn which services are under-utilized
  • Uncover impediments to efficiency
  • Identify courses that could benefit from customized instruction sessions
  • Help you use your time most efficiently
  • Better understand your assignments
  • Cultivate collaborations with faculty
  • Build a more meaningful instruction program

These are just a few measurements and potential outcomes.  Over the course of the coming semesters we will build a substantial databank of valuable information on how you use the AU Libraries.   This is certainly a painstaking process, but your librarians and library staff are excited to see what we uncover.

Yes indeed, AU Libraries Count!  
 In More Ways Than One!


– Mark A. Smith

New e-book collection at Herrick

For patrons who prefer reading and doing research online, there is great news!
Herrick has recently subscribed to EBSCOhost’s eBook Academic Collection, which contains about 120,000 e-books! This is in addition to the 10,000 e-books already available through our general EBSCOhost eBook Collection and is included in the over 370,000 e-books offered in total.
Our new Academic Collection consists of a variety of multifaceted eBook titles that pertain but are not limited to academic subjects such as: art, business and economics, education, language arts, literary criticism, medicine, performing arts, philosophy, poetry, political science, religion, social science, and technology and engineering.
Titles are added to our extensive collection each month, ensuring that users have access to the most current resources that are relevant to their research needs. All titles are available to users with free, equal and unlimited access.
To browse through our eBook Academic Collection, please click here:,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=e000xna
–Natalie Skwarek

DVD Collections at Herrick Library

Did you know that Herrick Library has over 3000 DVDs available for 3-day check out?  Alfred University students, faculty and staff may borrow up to 3 DVDs at a time.  Library users from the community who have purchased memberships can also borrow DVDs.  Although most people check the movies out, they can also be viewed in the library, both at a special station or on library laptops (ear buds and headphones are available at the front desk for use in the library.)
Much of the collection has been built from the suggestions of AU students and faculty, so it’s got a little bit of everything. Want more detail?
Check out our movie list:
So what kind of movies will you find in Herrick’s collection?
We have new movies
We have old movies — or as we like to call them — Classics
We have TV Series
We have movies from all over the world
We have some special interest movies — for example we have several Anime titles like this one
We also have just plain old mindless-entertainment-stress-relief movies like this one
Remember, if you don’t find what you’re looking for, please send Steve Crandall a recommendation at or drop a note in the Suggestion Box.       We count on our users to help build this collection, so let us know what you’d like to see.  ENJOY A MOVIE TODAY!
— Steve Crandall

Artists' Books at the Scholes Library

You’d expect a library of art and engineering to have many books about art, but what you might not expect–or be aware of–is that the Scholes Library also has a significant collection of books that ARE art.  More commonly called “artists’ books,” these volumes are works of art in and of themselves, and often are not restricted to the typical book format.

"The Sick Rose," a poem from Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake.

“The Sick Rose,” a page from Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake.

How you define the history and chronology of artists’ books depends largely on how you define artists’ books themselves.  Illuminated manuscripts have existed for centuries, of course, some merging art and text in ways that would now be clearly recognized as belonging to the world of artists’ books.  However, William Blake’s work in his Songs of Innocence and Experience is widely considered the most direct ancestor to the modern artist’s book.  Unlike medieval illuminated manuscripts, which were generally highly collaborative, each copy of Songs of Innocence and Experience was written, printed, illustrated, and bound by Blake and his wife.
Some contemporary artists’ books could still be considered illustrated narratives or collections of poetry, like Blake’s work, but the majority do not present their content in such a linear fashion, or even draw such distinct lines between form and content.  This may in part be due to the artist’s book’s strong historical connection to–and development from–the Dadaist movement, in which they took their place alongside performance art and published manifestos as a core part of the movement.

Every Building on the Sunset Strip, a Ruscha book in our collection that, according to the Getty’s “Pacific Standard Time” blog, “reinvented the artist’s book.”

The modern artist’s book, however–that is, the artist’s book as we know it today–can be in large part credited to the avant-garde and postmodern artists of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, most notably among them Dieter Roth and Ed Ruscha.
We happen to have significant collections of the works of both of these artists right here at the Scholes Library!  A walk into our special collections room (after speaking with one of the librarians on duty) will reveal several works by Ruscha and Roth, including Ruscha’s Some Los Angeles Apartments and Roth’s Stupidogramme.
Ruscha’s work in particular plays with the format of the book, frequently expanding it into the accordion folds seen in Sunset Strip.
This alteration, denial, or subversion of the book form appears frequently in the works we have in our collection.  The accordion fold, for instance, is crucial to the functioning of Scott McCarney’s Memory Loss.  Printed on both sides and barely two inches wide when shut, Memory Loss reads differently depending on which angle you choose to view it from, seemingly orphaned words leaping across the folds of the paper to construct sentences along the length of the book.
Still other works maintain the standard book form, humument1but use art to explore writing itself.  In A Humument, Tom Philips took as his starting point an obscure Victorian novel by W.H. Mallock, A Human Document.  By altering every page with painting and collage, he created an entirely new work, and brought out meanings from the text that the original author never would have intended–but which he nevertheless wrote.

A page from A Humument.

If you’re interested in learning more about artists’ books, I’d also recommend checking out A Century of Artists’ Books.  Written by Riva Castleman and published on the occasion of the MoMA exhibit of the same name, it is an excellent introduction to the art form.  And, of course, feel free to search the Scholes collection for yourself!

-Eva Sclippa