Electronic Reserves Pilot Program: Final Report and Recommendations

The University Libraries adopted as an objective for academic year 1996/97 the development of a pilot program for electronic reserves. This objective was in support of a goal to introduce innovative services for the delivery of user-oriented services to all members of the university community. In January 1996, the Electronic Reserves Task Group was formed and charged to "develop a functional design and run a pilot program that will make paper reserve materials available electronically." The task group completed technical testing the following summer, and ten faculty participated in a live demonstration of an electronic reserves service during the fall and spring semesters. The program used the technical infrastructure and was a test service of the Stephen and Lucy Chang Science Library.

Task group members:


Based on what we observed and learned, it is our recommendation that a systemwide electronic reserves service be established. A new group formed from access and circulation services librarians and staff with reserves and Unicorn expertise should accomplish implementation of this service. The implementation should be staged, beginning by the fall semester 1998 and expanding to a full, systemwide service over 3 semesters. Implementation should engage the entire library system at as early a stage as possible so that systemwide workflow can be tested, impact on staff and users assessed, and users gradually acclimated to the new service. Initial implementation will require a production scanner with planetary design, and related software, that allows face-up scanning of bound volumes; automatic focusing and exposure; and high volume, low-maintenance, self-service operation.

Areas the implementation group should address and questions that need to be addressed include:

Systemwide Workflow

What is the optimum systemwide workflow? With what materials should the implementation begin? Where should the initial scanner be located? How will physical materials be delivered to the scanner? Does scanning have to be done in the same location as record creation? What is the relation of reserve scanning to VALE / Ariel and other scanning equipment?

Human Resources

Traditional physical preparation will be eliminated and materials will no longer be paged on demand by staff serving at the circulation desks. Materials that may need to be placed on reserve at another time can be removed by merely cutting a hyperlink and will not have to be rescanned. Is this a saving, a one-to-one tradeoff, or are more staff needed? What expertise is needed? Is additional technical knowledge required? What training and documentation are needed?


We recommend that Rutgers use a commercial reserve software package that automatically builds access via a user friendly web page. We believe this is necessary to limit the labor intensiveness of record creation. Given the rapid delivery to the workplace of these packages and the lack of standard and reliable performance, the selection of the right commercial package will be a major task for the implementation committee. An equally important policy decision will be how this web page relates to Sirsi and the reserve capabilities of our new library information system.


Students use library photocopiers heavily for copying reserve materials. Will we provide printing for electronic reserves? Will every library need to provide printing? We observed that lowering the price for printing from $.20 per page to $.10 per page did not increase printing volume. If we provide printing, how much should we charge per page? A proposal for networked printing for the major libraries is being developed separately.


What are the initial and continuing costs? What are the savings, if any?


What publicity and instructional materials are needed to apprise the user community of the electronic reserves service? Are there web forms for faculty to submit reserve requests? What documentation and software will users need? If users need software to read reserve materials, should we offer it for downloading to remote users?


Not all faculty we asked to participate wished to have their materials available only in electronic form. Will we eventually require reserve materials to be electronic? How will we manage the transition, whether required or not? Should there be a period of overlap during which traditional print and electronic reserve copies are maintained in duplicate? How long should that be?


New copyright guidelines for our current reserve service have been drafted and can be updated to include policy and practice for scanned materials. The draft guidelines have been shared with university counsel and discussed by the circulation subcommittee. They will be revised during the spring semester and put in place for the fall 1998 semester. Two proposed provisions to note are: 1) Faculty will be advised they may need to obtain permission under fair use guidelines for photocopied and scanned materials used more than one semester, and 2) Photocopies, scanned materials, and personal copies on reserve will be accessible only by faculty name, course name, and course number.


The attachments to this report provide background information for the implementation:

  1. Charge to the task group
  2. E-reserves pilot top web page
  3. Interim Report
  4. Laser Printing Historical Data
  5. Reports from other universities
  6. Student evaluation form and survey results
  7. Draft reserve services brochure with copyright policy
  8. Minolta PS 3000 (hardware) and EPIC 3000 (software) information


Task Group members were: Jeanne Boyle, Bill Crosbie, Donna Cryan, Judy Gardner, Ann Hoang, Peter Graham, Irwin Weintraub

Comments on this report may be sent to Jeanne Boyle at: jeboyle@rci.rutgers.edu.  The report has been discussed and accepted by the Standing Advisory Committee on Public Services and Cabinet.  5/7/98

URL: http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/staff/pub_serv/reports/ereserves.shtml
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