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    Dean's Desk: Library Collections Update
    by Ralph Alberico, Dean of Libraries & Educational Technologies

    I am pleased to report significant progress with the library’s collection building efforts.  Thanks to a $500,000 increase to the library materials base budget advocated by President Rose, we have been able to allocate substantially more money to acquisition of books, journals and other library materials.  At the same time we have been able to expand our digital library.  The $500,000 in new funding represents a 36 percent increase to our collections base budget.  Preceding the increase to our base budget was a one-time infusion of $500,000 at the end of the past fiscal year.  Thus, the administration has committed a million dollars of additional materials funding to the library in calendar year 2003.  A year that began with dismal news of potential deep budget cuts ended on a bright note for the library.  The library is now in a better position to meet demand for traditional library materials while acquiring new sorts of collections that I think present new opportunities for original research and innovative teaching.

    With this additional funding we were able to increase the amount earmarked for each academic program by a minimum of 10 percent.  Increases were significantly greater for new programs and for programs that have been poorly supported in the past.  We were also able to acquire major new reference, journal, online and video collections.  The library is now better prepared to deal with escalating prices for journal subscriptions, particularly in the sciences, technology, business and medicine.   

    In addition to the money allocated to specific academic programs, we are now making a concerted effort to build collections in interdisciplinary areas that cross academic program boundaries.  This year a team of liaison librarians representing several different disciplinary areas will receive special funding to build our collections on comparative culture and religion with an emphasis on materials on Islamic studies.  We anticipate that the books, videos and other materials that we acquire will support many different academic programs and open possibilities for students and faculty to explore topics from an interdisciplinary perspective.  Each year we will identify a different interdisciplinary area for a similar focused collection building effort.

    Over the years I have heard much praise for library staff and for the services offered by the committed people who work in the library.  However, I have also heard a steady stream of complaints about the depth and breadth of our collections, particularly when it comes to our ability to support advanced research and graduate study.  So I am pleased to let you know that we have begun an effort to improve our research collections by dedicating funds for new journal subscriptions and collections that support graduate level research and study.  One of our goals is to respond to suggestions made in academic program reviews and to support expanding graduate programs.  Achieving that goal will not be easy, nor can it be accomplished overnight, but the commitment of additional funding from university administration has enabled us to begin that process.

    Another of our goals is to build a first rate digital library that students and faculty can rely on for quality information wherever and whenever that information is needed.  Our digital collections now include millions of journal articles and thousands of other items ranging from reference works to newspapers to manuscripts.  Unlike the results of a Google search, the items a student finds in our digital library can be relied upon to be trustworthy and authoritative.  Our membership in the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA) and our efforts to acquire online reference and journal collections has resulted in dramatic growth in the size of our digital library. This year's increased funding has accelerated the growth of our digital library.  Since July we have added over 30 research databases and several hundred new online journals.

    For the first time we have been able to acquire digital collections that open original research possibilities for  students and faculty.  Our new digital primary source collections include original documents that permit the sort of research that used to require travel to archives and libraries all over the world.  For example, North American Women’s Letters and Diaries includes 120,000 pages of diaries and letters written by women between 1675 and 1998.  Advanced search software enables researchers to search for entries by keyword, marital status, age, location, and occupation.  This primary source collection, along with numerous others, will be a treasure trove for original research in the humanities and social sciences. 

    Another first for our digital library is the acquisition of digital collections to support teaching.  For example, Images.MD includes over 48,000 high quality medical images that can be freely used in faculty and student presentations.  In the near future, we will be adding new digital teaching resources and other major digital collections including several thousand electronic books and hundreds of digital videos.

    We are excited by our newfound ability to support traditional collections and to expand our digital library.  I am convinced that every academic program will benefit from the quality sources that we are adding and that our new collections offer something of value for every student and faculty member.  We look forward to working closely with the academic community to continue building our collections.  And we will release periodic updates to inform the university about our recent acquisitions.  If you would like a better idea about the specific items we are adding to our collections, I encourage you to have a look at the following web pages.

    New books and other cataloged items:


    New journals:


    New research databases:


    E-mail comments and questions to:

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