Library on Location
I use "Library on Location" to mean roaming where the library takes its materials and/or services outside the library walls - particularly academic libraries. When public libraries do it, it's usually called a bookmobile!
Meg Upjohn and I have run two trials of a "Library on Location" service at the University of Canterbury. If you have any questions about these, please feel free to email either me or Meg — we're always happy to share and interested in hearing what other libraries are doing.
Library On Location - Trial 1 (pdf, 116KB)
In the second semester of 2007 a Library on Location service was trialled at the University of Canterbury. This involved taking a wireless-enabled laptop and library materials out to student areas to promote the Library and offer a convenient and non-threatening access point for reference queries. Library on Location was received positively and many students and staff expressed surprise at learning about services and collections they had been unaware of. The best response was achieved when it was sited in a high traffic area at a busy time of day and supported by two librarians, but it could be difficult to staff such a service on a regular basis. However, as a tool to increase the Library's visibility, Library on Location could be a valuable addition to occasional events such as Orientation or Library Week.
Library On Location - Trial 2 (pdf, 87KB)
A second trial of the Library on Location service was conducted in term 2 of 2008. This trial involved providing the service in a single location at a regular time each week for one term. By regularly visiting the same location, Library staff became acquainted with people who frequented that area, and were able to offer materials specifically for their needs.
The number of reference questions answered on location compared favourably with those answered in the branches for the same time period, and the positive feedback received indicated that users valued the service. Students and staff frequently mentioned having been unaware of services we told them about.
Due to the success of the service, we recommend that the Library commit to providing the Library on Location service on a permanent basis.
With the rapid increase in the number of library resources and services available, university students and academics are often unaware of all the library has to offer. Furthermore, some people find it inconvenient to get to their library and others find library buildings intimidating. To address these issues, a "Library on Location" service was trialled at the University of Canterbury.
We took a wireless-enabled laptop and a selection of borrowable items out of the library to busy student areas. This allowed provision of both reference services (using online resources) and lending services (albeit limited by our small sample collection). We also took signage, sweets to attract attention, statistics sheets and feedback cards.
The first trial took place in term four of 2007. For some sessions, we tested different times of day and different campus locations, each time refining our methodology in terms of the materials we took and our approach to attracting students. In other sessions we tested both setting up outside a lecture theatre with materials targeted to the course taught, and embedding our service in a laboratory session.
We found that Library on Location was relatively simple to operate and feedback showed that the service was welcomed. Many students and staff expressed surprise at learning about services and collections they were unaware of. The trial increased the visibility of the library so that even those who made no concrete use of the service learned something new about the library.
Our presentation will present results from the first trial and also from a second trial, in term two of 2008, which focused on providing Library on Location regularly at a fixed time and location in order to test the effect of familiarity on use of the service.