Books & e-books — preferences & benefits

Recently I attended a library orientation session where i overheard someone talking about their strong preference for books over e-books.  When the instructor noted that most of the libraries resources are online now, he sighed.  He clearly wished that he could access to more books in paper. One of our student workers shares that love of the physical book.
book happy
I imagine the person I overheard wouldn’t enjoy reading all of a book online.  He might be a little glum, like this student worker staring at the screen like she wished she were doing something else.
e-book unhappy
Like that student and like many of us, the experience of a book is a unique pleasure.  Touching the book, holding it, smelling it and, of course, reading it are all part of the pleasure.  It has many benefits. You can take it anywhere, read without a power source, you never have to wait for it to boot up, you can get right back to the page you left off at by just leaving it open, you can leaf through the pages to spot that section you liked and you know was on the lower right page — somewhere. My basement has shelves and shelves of favorite books that I go back to savor again and again. So I’m not anti-book, but why are we focusing on expanding the electronic resources?
I have to admit — I’m an administrator, so I think about cost.  A recent example of a decision we made was to add a new collection of electronic books.  The collection costs about $3,000 per year.  It has 125,000 book titles in it. So access to each of those books, for every Alfred University student, faculty member or staff member, costs about 2.5 cents a year. We bought it knowing that 75,000 titles overlapped with other collections we already owned.  So why did we buy it? Because we’re still getting 50,000 unique titles at a cost of about 6 cents a year. To put that in perspective, if we used that $3,000 and bought books in paper, assuming that the average cost of each book and its book processing at about $50, we could buy just 60 books, instead of getting access to 50,000.
The physical library is open quite a bit, 108 hours a week during the semester and library users can come in and browse to their hearts content.  But the electronic resources are available all the time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  If you want to work at 3 in the morning, or work from off campus, or are part of the downstate programs you will only be able to access our online resources. And most, thought not all, of the libraries’ online collections are available to multiple users, so that you don’t have to wait until someone returns the book you want. Here’s another of our student workers enjoying her access to electronic materials.
e-book happy
Books that patrons like will get used, and begin to wear out.  They can get dropped in the bathtub, or a mud puddle, they can get sticky pages from people eating and reading at the same time, they can drop pages out, and sometimes patrons tear them out.  Each new person who looks at an e-book gets the same fresh copy, and the pages of an online file can’t be torn, written on, or pulled out, although you can set up a person account and mark your own personal copy of the online book.
While you can’t browse an e-book in the same way you browse a paper book, you can search for specific words which you can’t do with a book. OK, you can do that with a book, it just takes forever. No, I’m not forgetting about indexes in paper books, but virtually all indexes are selective, and some of them are pretty quirky. Many of the databases provide citation tools that let you build your bibliography in a specific style sheet as you find each resource for your project.  You can e-mail links of books to other members of a study or class group for the project you’re working on.  Another one of our student workers is frustrated with looking through a pile of books, when he wishes he could search online.
book unhappy
Books will never entirely be replaced by online resources and we continue to have extensive collections of paper books. However, in the interest of providing the best service and most extensive collections possible to Alfred University both on campus and at branch locations, our online collections make sense for us.  We do continue to buy paper books, but online has become our major focus, for so many reasons.  So enjoy both at Herrick Library!
book and e-book happy
Please share your thoughts about this topic with Steve Crandall,, I’d love to hear from you!

Student Art Collection at Herrick

For over twenty years Herrick Library has been collecting AU student art. Sometimes the library itself buys from the senior shows…
Hupmobile    CommunicationPeople in BookEnd Lounge
sometimes the library is given art from a committee which buys excellent student art to place across campus…
Blown glass rods
sometimes students really just want to leave a piece of their work at Alfred, and they give it to the library…
Table made of books
or make the library a really great deal…
Blue head sculpture
We also have some art that was created by our own student workers…
Hand with appleThe Advocate
Some of the art is fanciful…
Crested rabbit
Some is abstract…
Disjointed face
Herrick also hosts temporary student art exhibits…
iArt Installation 2013
Sometimes art can just disappear when you’ve walked by it for a long time without really looking at it. When you’ve got a few spare minutes, check out the student art at Herrick. Most of the library’s student art is in the Learning Commons, and in the top floor hallway between the Children’s room and the East Wing (toward Alumni Hall.) Most pieces are identified by the name and graduation year of the artist. They’d be happy for you to stop by and see what they created.
Steve Crandall

What's happening at Herrick?

What’s going on at Herrick? Why are there so many empty shelves? Where are those books going? What will be done with the space that becomes available?
Part of the project involves moving most of Herrick’s art books to Scholes.  Herrick built a collection of art books to meet a need in the distant past.  Now  those books are joining the books in the Scholes collection to make art research just a little easier. This has been an ongoing project for several years.
The other reason for all this activity is a re-evaluation of the entire library collection. It’s been many, many years since all the books in the library collection have been reviewed to see if they are still relevant and useful to AU students and faculty.
To start the evaluation process the library staff identifies older books that haven’t been used for 20 years or more.  Then faculty members in each subject area evaluate the possible removals to ensure that we don’t lose important works in the subject areas which support our curricula, just because those books haven’t been used recently.
The next step is to identify which books might be of use to others.  We send many of the items we remove to Better World Books, which supports literacy initiatives in developing countries.  They sell used books through their web site to fund those initiatives.  So its a win-win situation.  We feel better about the books leaving the library, because we know they may now get into the hands of someone who will use them.  And literacy is something near and dear to our hearts, so we’re happy to support efforts to improve literacy world-wide.
All of this evaluation and “slimming-down” of the collection will create a fair amount of new floor space — what will it be used for?
The top floor of the east wing (next to Alumni Hall) is slated to be transformed into a new space for the Center for Academic Success and the Writing Center which will come together to create special areas for writing assistance, tutoring, testing and other services.  When combined with the ITS HelpDesk and the library services already in place, it will make Herrick a “one-stop-shopping” location for academic support services.
We’ve still got a lot of work to do before the Center can be created at Herrick.  I want to give a shout out to the many faculty members who have volunteered their time to do this important review of the Herrick collection.  THANKS!!!
— Steve Crandall

To Summon or not to Summon — that is the question!


There's a lot of information coming your way when you use Summon!

There’s a lot of information coming your way when you use Summon!

To Summon or not to Summon?  No we’re not talking about magic spells, but a way to search almost everything available from both AU Libraries.
Where do you find Summon?  Both Scholes and Herrick Libraries prominently feature a Google-like blank box on their home pages:
Why would you want to use Summon?
It’s the most comprehensive search available.  Summon searches both libraries’ catalogs, almost all of the AU Libraries’ databases, and additional freely available, high quality web content.  You’ll get all of your results in one search.  Summon provides a variety of filters to reduce your results to a manageable number of items. So if you want to do a search and make sure you don’t miss out on any of the resources the libraries have to offer, use Summon.
Why would you not want to use Summon?
If you have been using a specific database which brings back great results for your research, doesn’t miss anything important, and doesn’t bury you with a ton of off-topic results to sort through — then you’ll be happier using that database.
Or, if you find that, when you search Summon, you consistently find that your best results are coming from a specific database or databases — then you might prefer to use those databases directly.  Both the Herrick and Scholes web pages allow you to select a specific database from an A-Z list.  You will also be directed to high relevance databases through the research/subject guides provided.
Please share your experiences with us…
Summon is one more tool to dig into the libraries content.  Please contact us with questions or suggestions about how to make the best use of Summon in your search for the information you need.
Steve Crandall 607-871-2987 or email:

AURA — Alfred University Research and Archive

What is AURA?  No, not aura, a distinctive atmosphere, or an energy field from a living being, but AURA.  AURA stands for the Alfred University Research and Archive.  It’s Alfred University’s own digital repository, a place to discover the past and inform the future.
  What is a digital repository?

  • A means of storing and providing access to digital content (research, scholarship and documents of historical significance)
  • Provides a stable, well-managed, permanent archive for digital scholarly and research materials of enduring value produced by faculty, staff, and students
  • Supports research, learning and administrative processes
  • Includes a wide range of content: research data, meeting minutes, newsletters, theses and dissertations, published articles, technical reports, conference papers, historical information, etc.

For example, this newletter of the Science Fiction Club, Lanruojifics, Fall 2002
What are the benefits of a digital repository?

  • Content can be searched full-text, across all documents
  • Allows the content to be shared locally and globally
  • Allows wide and rapid dissemination of intellectual output, thereby raising awareness of Alfred University to a wider audience
  • Stores and organizes the plethora of digital documents created on campus in one place, accessible from anywhere
  • Supports a wide range of file types (text, images, video, data sets, etc.)
  • Access to content can be restricted as needed
  • Required for researchers applying for certain types of federal funding
  • Usage can be tracked for statistical purposes

Why not just put this material into Blackboard?

  • AURA makes content available to external audiences (open access availability)
  • AURA’s content can be indexed by search engine harvesters (such as Google)
  • AURA’s content is organized into collections and subcollections
  • BlackBoard was designed as a course management system; not a document warehouse. It doesn’t allow for searching across documents and doesn’t manage collections or access to them as well as AURA does.

How can you help to build AURA?

  • ·         Submit your club’s publications and meeting minutes for inclusion in AURA
  • ·         Submit your publications and research to AURA.
  • ·         Submit publications from your program, division, school and college.  Help us keep AU’s institutional memory strong in the digital era.

Want to check out AURA right now?
— Steve Crandall

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