What’s new at Binghamton University Libraries
Libraries website redesign
This fall, the Binghamton University Libraries launched a new website to more closely align with the intuitive, user-centered Binghamton University website. The new website has a fresh look and feel with Binghamton University colors. The easy navigation uses mega-navigation menus to provide quick access to resources and services. Other features include our integrated one-stop search tool called Find It!, expanded search options for the library catalog, and enhanced library news features highlighting our collections and services. The website also uses responsive design to make it easy to view on desktop, tablet or mobile devices.
Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys Program
The Binghamton University Libraries and the American Civic Association presented a program titled “Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys” on Oct. 25. This program enabled by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association, addressed both the need and the desire of the American public for trustworthy and accessible resources about Muslim beliefs and practices and the cultural heritage associated with Islamic civilizations. It was the culmination of almost a year’s planning between the Binghamton University Libraries and the American Civic Association. The program drew support, in participation and additional funding, from Binghamton University academic departments, the Binghamton University Muslim Students Association and local Muslim community members.
The centerpiece of the program consisted of four short talks by Binghamton University faculty members about different aspects of the Muslim and the Muslim-American experience formed the program’s centerpiece:
• Akbar Muhammad, associate professor of history and of Africana studies, spoke on the history of Muslim immigration to the United States;
• Talat Okby (adjunct professor of classical and near eastern studies, spoke on Muslim influences and contributions to European and American musical culture;
• Moulay-Ali Bouanani, lecturer in Africana studies, spoke on the multi-ethnic al-Andalus civilization of medieval Spain;
• Kent Schull, assistant professor of history, spoke on the traditions of mosque architecture across Muslim cultures worldwide.
The program also included an exhibit of the books received on the grant and other representative items dealing with Muslim culture from the Binghamton University Libraries’ collections. In addition, there was a Muslim folk dance performance by a local student/community group.
The program drew a nearly 100 people from both the University and the local community — a tremendous success in meeting the goal of the grant to foster public awareness of the history and contribution of the American Muslim community, and also of the Binghamton University Libraries to highlight the resources available to the community in its collections. The Libraries’ Director of Collections Edward Shephard oversaw the successful grant application and coordinated the local program.
Libraries in demand
Binghamton University’s enrollment is swelling, and so too is the number of patrons using the Binghamton University Libraries. Visitors to all library locations increased by 15 percent from September 2012 to September 2013, prompting study and assessment of how the library’s space, which is often at or exceeding capacity, is being stretched to meet the research and study needs of the campus community.
Over a two-week time span in October, headcounts in the Bartle Library were taken in two-hour intervals to better understand building usage throughout the day. The study revealed that the Bartle Library is serving different purposes over the course of a 24-hour period. During the day, space is used primarily for individual study. Often, space is in such high demand that there are not enough seats to accommodate everyone. For example, thought there are 184 individual computer terminals available in the Information Commons, the number of students in the space often exceeds 300. In contrast to use during the day, there is the need to create flexible space to facilitate the increasing number of groups seeking collaborative study spaces in the evening. As the Library continues to address this issue, creative solutions are being discussed to explore, expand and enhance space to better accommodate current and future patron needs.
Book chapters about Libraries
Recently, two book chapters were published about the Binghamton University Libraries. “A Global Book Exchange: Creating Partnerships across the Sea” (Wang & Mulligan), published in The Global Librarian, traces the development of the pilot book exchange project between Binghamton University Libraries and Beijing Normal University Library from its inception in 2008 to its completion in 2011. This includes a description of the initial and subsequent trips that were made to China by Julie Wang, Asian and Asian American studies librarian, and John M. Meador, Jr., dean of Libraries.
“Breaking the Mold: Winning Allies via Self-Discovery” (Mulligan & Andrus), published in The Machiavellian Librarian, describes how the Libraries overcame a prevailing stereotype of libraries as unwelcoming “book warehouses” by transforming the organizational culture and physical space. Several initiatives were undertaken to create an environment that caters to users’ needs by way of adaptive, customizable services.
The Global Librarian, a 2013 monograph published by the Metropolitan New York Library Council and the Greater New York Chapter of the Association of Research Libraries describes how, by aligning with the University’s strategic priority of “internationalization,” Binghamton University Libraries initiated a book exchange program with Beijing Normal University Library in 2009, followed by a grant-funded speaking visit to Beijing by Dean John Meador in May 2010. The success of this talk resulted in a 2013 invitation for Meador to be the keynote speaker at an academic library conference of 400 Chinese librarians in Changchun, China.
Additionally, in July 2010, the Binghamton University Libraries became the first U. S. academic library to acquire the Rosetta digital preservation system and join an international coalition of Rosetta users. This initiative assured Binghamton University of a viable digital asset management and preservation program and served to introduce our University and Libraries to a new international community. Subsequently, in 2011, Meador went on two sponsored speaking tours of Europe and Asia to describe Binghamton University’s use of Rosetta as the basis for building a digital library. In June 2013, Binghamton University Libraries hosted the first U. S. meetings of both the International Rosetta Advisory Group and Rosetta User Group at the SUNY Global Center in Manhattan. In addition to seven corporate representatives from Ex Libris Inc., there were 31 attendees from 23 institutions located in Israel, Great Britain, Switzerland, Belgium, New Zealand, France, Germany and the U.S.