Transformation of the Ag Library
Have All the Journals Gone?
By Randy Weckman
First of all,
it isnt on the first floor of Scovell Hall, where it resided
from the early part of the 20th century until 1964; thats
when it moved to the newly-built Agricultural Science Building
(commonly called Ag North). Forget the library paste. There isnt
a pot of it anywhere. And perhaps even more perplexingor
even vexingis the fact that it has no bookswell, hardly
any. Things are so mightily strange that the library is now called
the Agricultural Information Center (although the sign painter
hasnt yet stopped by to change the name over the door).
Our new Agricultural Information Center provides faculty,
students, and staff with most of the same services theyve
always enjoyed. Now, however, we have the room wired with computer
terminals for searches with databases and electronic journals
that are more accessible than hard bound journals ever were,
said Toni (Powell) Greider, agricultural librarian for the past
the books? Journals? The other symbols of a library?
On June 18, 1998, moving van after moving van backed up
to Ag North and carted away our 125,000 volumesgive or take
a few thousand. They are now housed in the new W.T. Young Library,
where they can be used just as always, Greider said.
In their place are the 40-some computers that allow for on-line
searches that are light years faster and more thorough than the
old card catalog. Because these computers take so much less space
than 125,000 volumes of books and journals, the information center
has meeting rooms and even a small video room where patrons can
view educational films. Weve used every bit of space
judiciously, Greider said.
There really was a Miss Snodgrass.
Grace Snodgrass served as College of Agriculture librarian from
1917 through the 1950s. Miss Snodgrass was known as a tenacious
guardian of the librarys materials, especially U.S. Department
of Agriculture documents, Kentucky Experiment Station reports,
and Cooperative Extension publications.
at Your Service
of electronic publishing allows users sitting at a computer in
the Agricultural Information Center to tap into a computer at
some other location and find and use current journal articles.
This new library is not like any I ever grew up with. I
was really worried about whether Id be able to use it and
find the information I needed. But the GEN 100 class, required
of all first-year students in the college, introduced me to this
new way of doing library research. And now I wouldnt go
back for anything, said Jason Headrick, a 2002 graduate
in agricultural communications.
The work of
the librarian has changed, too. In addition to collecting, sorting,
and storing important material, the agricultural librarians help
students learn to use the new technology to make their information
searches more fruitful. Greider and five staff members constitute
the library team in the new information center. Their titles reflect
the skills demanded by the new technology, such as electronic
support and those of a webmaster.
And it isnt
just the students who need help to take advantage of the new information
environment; faculty also need help in using the new technology.
Faculty members, too, learned to use a library before it was an
electronic palace; so, along with the students, they needed training
to make the transition to keyboards and monitors from card catalogues
and floor-to-ceiling shelves of books.
And when faculty members have needas many Extension faculty
members dothey can check out a suitcase classroom. The suitcase
is a small soft-sided carrying case that contains a laptop computer,
projection system, VCR, sound system, and lots of accessories,
including a wireless mouse. With suitcase in hand and a telephone
line for Internet access, any classroom becomes wired
to the rest of the world.
These suitcases let faculty and staff members have a 21st
century classroom wherever there is electricity, Greider
of the biggest changes in the old ag library is that you dont
have to physically step foot in the building to use its services.
We have built our Web site so that people off campus can
use the services of the information center. Click on Information
Center in the left-hand column of the College of Agricultures
home page and go directly to our site, Greider said.
is welcome to use the Ag Information Center - students, faculty
members, staff, alumni, and
visitors. A click on the Colleges home page on the Web will
take you there.