SubjectsPlus@ NUST Library Helping library users to discover e-resources through subject-themed guides eIFLFOSS Themed Week 10 October 2011 Amos Kujenga Systems Analyst NUST Library Bulawayo, Zimbabwe email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Outline of Presentation • Background • Subject Librarianship • Guided Search tools/Research Pathfinders • Why SubjectsPlus • Project Progress • Expected Outcomes
Project Background • NUST Library has been involved in eIFL-FOSS activities since 2007 • Decided to pilot SubjectsPlus in response to a Call for Participation by eIFL-FOSS in 2010
Project Justification • NUST Library subscribes to a number of online resources mainly through the Zimbabwe University Libraries Consortium (ZULC) arrangements. • Efforts have been made to improve the usage of these resources through, for example, an on-going, on-demand Information Literacy Skills (ILS) training programme and other initiatives.
Project Justification • Challenges of users having to navigate throughout the website to get to the best resource for the particular Patron’s needs may be one reason for the little usage of these resources. • Guided searching using Research Pathfinders is a key solution to this problem. • Research Pathfinder software helps ease the job of the Twenty-First Century Subject Librarian by giving them an easy platform to assist Patrons.
Subject Librarians • Subject Librarians are library staff members who have been formally assigned to be the primary contact persons between the library and the faculties and/or academic departments. • They are sometimes referred to as Subject Specialists, Library Liaison Officers, or Faculty Librarians. • They are expected to understand the information needs and scholarly communication patterns of assigned disciplines.
Subject Librarians • At NUST Library this role is played by Assistant Librarians • One assigned for each of the faculties: • Applied Sciences • Built Environment • Commerce • Communication & Information Science • Industrial Technology • Medicine
Subject Librarians’ Roles • Collection development and organisation • Provision of subject-specific reference and information services • Information Literacy Skills training • Provision of subject-oriented library instruction • Their role in the selection of electronic resources is not just important for ‘paid-for’ resources (Pinfield, 2001). • Increasingly, Subject Librarians are required to identify free web resources which may be of interest to users.
Subject Librarians • Due to generally low Information Literacy Skills (ILS) levels, many users find the array of resources available on the Internet to be confusing and daunting. • Subject Librarians are well placed to locate and evaluate quality resources. This involves maintaining an awareness of key web finding aids and gateways as well as sites with actual subject content.
What is SubjectsPlus? In summary, SubjectsPlus is an Open Source set of tools aimed at enhancing a library website. It provides facilities to dynamically manage a library’s subject, course, and topic guides.
SubjectsPlus Features • Database-driven (uses MySQL) • Open Source - freely available • Includes: • Subject or Course Guides • A-Z List of Databases • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) • Suggestion Box (or Talkback) • Staff List
Why SubjectsPlus? • Easy to use • Easy to install and configure • Good for low-technical support environments • Resources permitting, NUST Library intends to train personnel from peer institutions
Why SubjectsPlus? • Subject Librarians can be given access to easily create and update Subject Guides • Empowers the Knowledge Workers, giving them full control of the site contents • Content Management architecture means that, e.g., changing a web address just has to be made in one place • Free/Open Source • Customisable • NUST Library promotes the use of FOSS
Why SubjectsPlus? • Includes Library 2.0 features • RSS Feeds • Supports digital reference service tools, e.g., Meebo • Bookmarking • Growing user community • Active, Google Groups-based mailing list • Documentation in Wiki • Video Tutorials
Project Progress • Training workshops were conducted for Library staff • SubjectsPlus installed on (Fedora) Linux server & customised • Assistant Librarians are responsible for developing and maintaining guides for their respective Faculties. • Currently the focus is to make subscribed electronic resources more visible to Library Users. • Guides are ordered by department and are accessible from anywhere on the web through http://library.nust.ac.zw/sp/subjects with links from the Library’s website.
Expected Outputs • Increased usage of subscribed electronic resources • Increased interaction of Subject Librarians with users • Improved feedback mechanism • Improved focus on user needs • Improved student performance • More focused or streamlined ILS training programmes • Improved efficiency in updating of library website
For more information... • Amos Kujenga • Systems Analyst • NUST Library • Bulawayo, Zimbabwe • email@example.com • firstname.lastname@example.org
Bibliography Agyen-Gyasi, K. (2008) 'The Need for Subject Librarians in Ghanaian Academic Libraries', Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, vol. 9, no. 3, Winter. Feldmann, L. (2006) 'Subject Librarians in the Changing Academic Library', Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, vol. 7, no. 3, Winter. Hahn, K. (2009) 'Introduction: Positioning Liaison Librarians for the 21st Century', Research Library Issues: A Bimonthly Report from ARL, CNI, and SPARC, vol. 265, August, pp. 1-2. Love, J. (2002) 'The Enhanced and Changing Role of the Specialist Librarian: Survey of Education Librarians', The Reference Librarian, vol. 78, pp. 149-165. Pinfield, S. (2001) 'The changing role of subject librarians in academic libraries', Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, vol. 33, no. 1, March, pp. 32-38.