Minutes of the April 28, 2005 Meeting

Katie Anderson, Zohreh Bonianian, Debbie Goldberg, Shawn Rogers, Judy Gardner, Sam McDonald, Teri McNally, Dean Meister, Jan Reinhart, Roger Smith, Chris Sterback, Daryl Voorhees



Review progression to paperless service.

A brief discussion of the transition to completely electronic presentation of reproduced articles, etc. indicated that little or no problems or complaints have surfaced. Camden and Dana had instituted this earlier than New Brunswick. With New Brunswick's full elimination of paper reproductions processing time has decreased. In light of this, higher numbers of articles are being allowed per class.

Syllabus format

The majority of the meeting's discussion revolved around the "syllabus" format. We reviewed the Syllabus format to bring everyone present up to speed. This was started as a pilot at Chang in 2002. The process of embedding PDF links in a scanned copy of the syllabus was well received by students and staff; as readings followed the instructor's intended timetable and were presented in an orderly and logical fashion. Staff time was saved as only one brief record was created per course. Files were removed the same as the traditional ERES items, via reports that removed brief records.

One of the major issues that has arisen with using a scanned copy of a course syllabus with imbedded PDF is the NetID login. The NetID login will not "carry over" to a PDF that is accessed from the original scanned Syllabus. The user will become "disassociated" and will have to login repeatedly. With this issue in mind, several staff members reviewed other options, including developing an HTML cover sheet in place of the Syllabus where staff would enter the readings and link directly from there. The problem with this solution is that the intention of working from the syllabus was to retain the look and order of the syllabus as presented to students using the readings from that class...the generic HTML cover sheet would lose that. Another solution was to group readings by week...a process which preserves the intent of the syllabus format in terms of presenting material in the order the professor intends to have it read [week 1, week 2, etc.] and does cut down the number of separate brief records being created. However, this system would require significant interpretive work on the part of the reserve staff member if the professor does not submit a clear syllabus or course reading list and still represents multiple brief records. This may warrant further exploration.

In addition, the possibility of requesting the faculty member to deliver an MSWord copy of the syllabus, which would then be converted to HTML, was unwieldy. MSWord itself can convert files to HTML, but large files are created they are not universally compatible with web browsers. If the material were cut and pasted into a program like Netscape Composer, very substantial staff time would be taken up with formatting the text. And at any rate, universal cooperation of faculty members could not be expected: some do not use syllabi or change them often early in the semester. Under these circumstances staff would be doing allot of work just to keep up with edits.

It was recognized that the Syllabus format continues to be a useful solution for the Music Library. They are putting up real player files that authenticate in such a manner that they do not encounter the same issues as PDF files and the NetID. Faculty members and students alike in the Music department have embraced this format as the best one for Music Reserves.

We are not authorizing any further expansion of the Syllabus format at this time. The issues with NetID identification are too substantial and the solutions at present are not workable.

Perhaps the major item to come out of our discussion of the Syllabus format is the we need to decide on the direction we intend the service to go. While as a group we thought the Syllabus format looked and worked great, we need to determine a destination before designing the way to get there. What is the future of electronic reserves? Will this service be folded into or become a component of course management software managed solely by teaching faculty or by a joint effort between the libraries and faculty? What services/interface is required of emerging teaching techniques and what do our constituents want out of this service? These are some of the questions that need to be explored before design should be approached on a different format for the service. An excellent suggestion was made that the group should examine what peer institutions are doing, and what literature in the field hints might be the direction for academic electronic reserve services in general. I believe our discussion helped broaden the viewpoint of the ERES committee and will lead to a more thorough evaluation of our mission in the months to come.

Adobe training

Daryl Voorhees has conducted one on one training on Adobe V.6.0. This training has been cited as helpful, especially in the utilization of several of 6.0's important features, including the "optimizer" feature and the ability to create files that have retroactive compatibility with older versions of Adobe. Greater compression of files has been achieved with this latest version, helping to cut down on the number of "pieces" files have to be divided into and thus saving staff processing time.

File size limits

It has been a long time since file size limits were reviewed. Originally, the file size limitation of 1.44 meg was arbitrary, but tied to the space on floppy disks as well as a desire to accommodate slower 56K modems. With the proliferation of larger storage devices [CDs, Flash Drives, etc.] as well as more broad band connections, we have decided to institute on a test basis for summer 05 a size limit of 4 meg on PDF files. It was cited as well that other subscribed databases routinely deliver articles in excess of this size, so that precedent is in place. We will monitor for any issues that arise during the summer with the increased size limit. There could be a problem with files being transmitted over wireless connections, and we can test this both at the library and at the Campus Centers.

Other issues

We discussed that the ERES tutorial developed by Camden staff will be redone to conform with the new look interface in I-Link.

The new MSOffice "readers" were on library PCs were discussed. The option to view MSOffice files in a read only mode is now available on PCs located within the libraries. While we could technically put these file types up on ERES, they would be available for use on user's home PCs, and unless saved as "read only" files the possibility exists that they could be altered and distributed as incorrect versions of the instructor's intended material. Faculty members would need to be informed of this process via the faculty guide.

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