JMU Libraries: Annual Report 2003-2004
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Following many years of steady-state funding, the JMU Libraries received a 36 percent increase to its materials budget in FY 2003-04. This made for an exciting year, as library staff and faculty were able to bring a significant amount of new resources to the Library's user community. The increased budget enabled the purchase of 35 percent more books and 17 percent more paid journal subscriptions. The number of locally purchased databases grew by 24 percent. Because the Libraries did not receive any increased funding for staffing, more resources meant an increased workload for staff involved in processing, managing, and maintaining materials and online access, and for those who educate users. The Libraries also faced higher processing costs, without additional funds for operations. The year also saw a growth in the level of library traffic, with increases in circulation rates and the number of reference transactions.

Projects initiated during the year included the implementation of a new online library system, preliminary planning for a redesign of the library's web pages, and the launching of the Shenandoah Valley Business Link, an online resource developed as a result of a grant from the Small Business Administration.

The following narrative highlights actions and achievements for the year. The report's sections correspond to the JMU Libraries' Strategic Goals.

Flexible Collections

Materials Budget: The Libraries received a $500,000 increase in its base budget FY 2003-04, bringing the total budget for materials to $1,888,885. This was following a one-time bonus of $500,000 received near the end of FY 2002-3, which was spent primarily on journal pre-payments and new database subscriptions.

Looking at the materials budget as a whole (see Figure 1), it is easy to see that expenditures for serials (both journals and standing orders) is the largest category of the materials budget at 68 percent; this percentage increased slightly from the previous year, when serials expenditures were at 64 percent. The percentage of expenditures for books was down slightly from the previous year (27 to 25 percent). The percentage expended on nonprint items such as sound recordings, videotapes, and DVDs dropped by three percent from the year before, although the actual number of items purchased rose from 332 to 572. Binding costs increased from $26,846 to $40,595 and information access costs also rose from $13,609 to $17,612 in real costs, but relative to the entire budget, percentages for these categories were unchanged from the previous year. The increase in binding costs was the result of binding more books, due to the increase in number purchased; periodical binding dropped 21 percent due to a shift to electronic journals.

Figure 1
The number of books, scores, maps, and other monographs purchased in FY 2003-04 rose to 11,958, up from a low of 7,654 in the previous year, during which the Libraries experienced uncertain funding and moratorium on orders (see Figure 2). Expenditures increased from $434,737 in FY 2002-03 to $515,720, an increase of 19 percent.

Figure 2

Corresponding to increased monograph purchases, Solinet costs for net cataloging fees rose by 62 percent, and Internet access costs rose by 36 percent, for an overall increase of 49 percent. These charges are operating costs for providing bibliographic and authority records and for maintaining holdings data. As the library materials budget increases, these costs will also increase, as will other operating costs such as binding.

Serials: The number of current journal subscriptions continued to climb from 4,087 subscriptions in FY 2002-3 to 5,231 in FY 2003-4. In addition, 1,091 journal subscriptions were available through VIVA, bringing the total to in FY 2003-4 to 6,322. This is more than twice the number of journal titles available in 1998-99 (see Figure 3).


Figure 3

During FY 2003-4, JMU Libraries added major e-journal collections from Emerald, Project Euclid, Wiley and IEEE, and increased the number of electronic journals available from Reed Elsevier.  To obtain the Reed Elsevier and Wiley collections, JMU Libraries was part of an ad hoc consortial agreement with the College of William and Mary, George Mason University , Old Dominion University , Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Virginia , and Virginia Tech. Serials staff developed a New Journals web page, linked to the main library web page, to keep library staff and users informed of the changes and additions to the print and electronic journal collections.

JMU Libraries also purchased four new archival collections from JSTOR: Arts and Science III, IV and Complement collections, as well as the Institute of Physics archives from the American Physical Society.  In-house usage counts for bound and microform journals decreased by 47 percent and 64 percent, respectively, after an increase in FY 2002-3, while usage of current print journals rose by 6 percent. The total in-house usage of the journal collection totals 19,460 for an overall decrease of 47 percent from the previous year. 

Even though usage statistics for electronic journals are incomplete and will remain difficult to compile for several years to come, it is clear that electronic journals are very heavily used by our users.  This year more publishers and vendors became COUNTER-compliant. The COUNTER Code of Practice provides statistical standards for compiling usage data for electronic products. As more vendors or publishers adopted this standard, some usage counts decreased from previous years due to COUNTER's more rigorous standards. Twenty-eight publishers or vendors do not supply usage data at all, including such major publishers as Wilson , Lexis-Nexis, ACM, and IEEE. Table 1 below show the number of articles retrieved for some major electronic journal collections during FY 2003-04.

Table 1
Number of Articles Retrieved: FY 2003-04

E-Journal Collection
Articles Retrieved
Titles in Collection
Institure of Physics (IOP)
Oxford Univ Press (OUP)*
American Chemical Society (ACS)*
Science Magazine*
OVIE PsycArt*
Science Direct
* Collections Provided by VIVA

New allocation formula : FY 2003-4 marked a transition to a new allocation model based on the Allocation Task Force Report of 2001 which recommended using factors such as credit hour production, number of faculty, number of majors and degrees, and overall book costs by discipline to re-align allocations. Academic department received a minimum ten percent increase, up to a maximum increase of 20 percent. Based on Liaison Annual Reports, supplemental funds were designated for departments to meet specific needs, including Art and Art History, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Education, English, Health Science, Music, Nursing, Psychology, and Theater and Dance. Liaison reports also identified interdisciplinary areas for collection support; during this fiscal year, liaisons collaborated on a collection development project subsidized from general library funds to purchase materials in the areas of African and Islamic arts, culture, politics, and literature. Electronic book collections, including the History E-Book Project and Oxford Reference Online, were also selected for purchase.

Databases: The Library's Collection Development Committee approved the purchase of 37 new databases during the fiscal year. Of special note, t he Library licensed SciFinder Scholar through a cooperative agreement with two other libraries, one from New York state and the other a private Virginia college library. ARTstor was licensed after JMU Libraries and Educational Technologies participated in the development of the database's interface.

SBA Grant money paid for two year licenses for three business databases. These titles will be evaluated during the upcoming year to decide if the subscriptions will be continued using local funds.

Increased materials funding also meant a concerted effort to add database trials and review databases for possible addition the Libraries' collection. Over 20 databases were evaluated. With a more secure funding situation, fewer databases were cancelled. VIVA cancelled more Wilson databases through FirstSearch, but the Library was able to resubscribe locally to several of these titles.

Table 2 below lists the databases with the highest number of searches during the fiscal year.

Table 2
Most Popular Databases: 2003-04
(based on average number of searches/month)

Database Title (Interface)
Average Searches per Month
InfoTrac OneFile  
Expanded Academic  
Health & Wellness Resource Center  
Business & Company Resource Center  
LexisNexis Academic  
Wilson OmniFile  
ABI Inform*  
Humanities & Social Science Retro**  
* Based on 10 months
* Based on 4 months

Cataloging: An increased budget for monographs had a major impact on cataloging, with 12,541 print monographs cataloged in FY 2003-4, a 48 percent increase over the previous year. The unit also cataloged electronic monographs in greater number than before, thus providing title-level access to selected full-text collections. Collections included Wright American Fiction, Documenting the American South, and the Evans Digital Collection. The total number of e-mongraphs cataloged was 3,267 compared in only 58 in the previous year. Cataloging staff also continued their contributions to the Image Database Project and Virginia Heritage Project. The unit also assisted with Claire Clemen's faculty research project, which involved enhancing access to the Caldecott award books by adding summaries, award notes and subject headings to the records.

Preservation: The preservation unit received a $3,970 preservation assessment grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The grant funded an external consultant, Dr. Michael Trinkley of the Chicora Foundation in Columbia , SC , who conducted an evaluation of the Library's preservation environment and procedures on June 2-3, 2004 . Follow-up on the recommendations outlined in the evaluation will be a priority in the coming year.

The preservation unit completed a total of 3,432 repairs in FY 2003-4, as compared to 1,614 the previous year, or a 113 percent increase. One reason for the increase was the unit's support of the Caldecott summer project. Preservation staff also assisted with disaster recovery at the JMU Procurement Offices following the South Main Street fire, and provided assistance for the Chancellor's office which also sustained damage. Julia Merkel, Preservation Officer, wrote an article for the library newsletter Knowledge Edge describing the recovery effort.

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Integrated Access

Millennium: During this fiscal year, the Library began implementation of the new Millennium library management system, an upgrade of its current Innovative Interfaces system. The new system will make it easier for students and faculty to locate resources in library collections; some new features such as improved keyword searching, are already functional. Staff training was held for cataloging, acquisitions, serials, and circulation functions.

Database Pages: A collaborative team of staff from Systems, Serials, and Digital Services successfully finished the database of databases project. The project involved a considerable amount of data entry and editing of the more than 350 titles in the Research Databases listings, but this groundwork means that new additions to Research Databases are now much easier to manage. This project was the first successful library project using ENCompass.

Periodical Locator and New Titles Page: The Library also implemented major improvements to Periodical Locator, a supplemental search engine for finding full-text journal articles, and the New Titles List, which now features a search engine to locate new titles in the library collection.

LinkFinderPlus: Improvements in activating full-text access via LinkFinderPlus were made in several aggregators, including Gale InfoTrac and Wilson OmniFile. LinkFinderPlus was also activated in PubMed.

Shenandoah Valley Business Link: To meet requirements of the Small Business Administration (SBA) grant, the Libraries introduced a web site for small businesses in the Shenandoah Valley . In developing this site, the Libraries explored the use of database-driven content generated by Dublin Core metadata. The Libraries also utilized Really Simple Syndication or RSS XML format as a method of incorporating external news feeds and information into the web site automatically. The web site also used database-driven web pages to provide access to business-related, online federal and state government publications and services.

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User Centered Services

Library Traffic and Circulation: Anecdotal evidence indicated that the library seemed busier during the 2003-04 academic year. The library system's circulation data showed that in fact initial checkouts increased last year by almost 13 percent, from 103,692 to 116,849 (see Table 3 below). Undergraduate users account for most of this increase; system data for patron types indicates that undergraduate checkouts grew by nearly 16 percent over the previous year. The gate count for the sample week in October, 2003 was up slightly from the year before at 18,033. The number of reference transactions recorded during the sample week was up markedly from the year before, with 970 in 2003 compared to 739 for the previous year, a jump of 31 percent.

Table 3
Initial Checkouts per Student: 1999-2004

Initial Checkouts
Student Enrollment
Source for Student Enrollment Figures: JMU Institutional Research Table 2.1


Interlibrary Loan: JMU's rates of Interlibrary Loan (ILL) borrowing (that is, obtaining materials from other libraries for JMU users) were almost unchanged from the previous fiscal year (see Figure 4 below). The number of requests for returnable materials rose by about four percent from 4,363 to 5,580. The average turnaround time for returnables was 8.8 days, down from 9.5 days reported last year. The number of articles requested was flat at 6,377. Nearly 75 percent of Interlibrary Loan users request electronic delivery. The average turnabout for electronic delivery of articles is 4.52 days, a slight drop from the previous year. The number of “we own” cancellations for articles increased by 11 percent this year; apparently users are finding it more difficult to identify journal articles available in the library collections.  

Figure 4

ILL lending of materials to other libraries increased by nearly seven percent this year, with most of the increase accounted for by lending of returnable items, which was up by 14 percent (4,804 compared to 4,223 the previous year). Lending of photocopies was down by less than a percentage point (see Figure 5 below).

Figure 5

JMU ranked sixth of all VIVA institutions in lending, accounting for 6.3 percent of all VIVA interlibrary loans. One reason for this high ranking is the ILL unit's remarkable turnaround rate: 1.66 days on average.

E-Reserves: The Electronic Reserves Task Force submitted its report in 2004, which recommended that e-reserves be implemented for Carrier Library, going beyond the pilot project begun by the CISAT Library and the Music Library. At the same time, the task force recognized that Blackboard and e-reserves are in some ways redundant services. The task force recommended that the Libraries investigate methods to de-centralize course reserves in favor of self-service models allowing faculty to use Blackboard as the primary means for providing digitized information sources to their classes.

User Surveys: The Libraries conducted a second LibQual survey of user satisfaction (the first was conducted in FY 2001-02). Results from the latest LibQual survey were mixed. Expectations in the category for ease of accessing information and adequacy of collections to meet needs were the highest both at JMU and nationwide. Respondents were generally satisfied with our web site, equipment, and easily accessible information, but were less satisfied with print collections and print/electronic journal collections, even though the number of electronic journals more than doubled since the last survey in 2002. This may be partly due to rising expectations in this area over the 2002 survey. Library service received the most positive scores and was backed up by the many reinforcing comments from our users, although the scores were somewhat lower than in 2002. Scores regarding library environment (library as place) were positive with users expressing satisfaction at about the same level as 2002. Interestingly enough, the comments about the library as place revealed a different attitude. Users noted that noise, temperature, equipment, and arrangement need to be improved.

In a real morale booster for the Libraries, the survey question on the 2004 Faculty Morale Survey regarding satisfaction about library staff and services received the highest score (4.48) of any item on the questionnaire.

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Education for the Information Age

Library Instruction: Both the number of instruction sessions and total number of students who attended were higher in FY 2003-4 than in the previous year (see Table 4). The number of instruction sessions rose from 252 to 261, while the number of students reached rose from 6,543 to 7,394, for an average class size of 28. The number of students used Go for the Gold was 3,199, down from 3,379 the year before.

Table 4
Library Instruction: FY 2003-04

Number of Students
Number of Sessions
Average Class Size


Information Literacy in General Education : With a grant from General Education, Rebecca Feind conducted a three-day workshop for Cluster One faculty on developing information literacy assignments. She also offered two half-day workshops for Cluster One faculty in August. A total of 48 faculty attended from the following departments: Speech Communication, the Writing Program, Business, History, Media Arts, and Philosophy.

Assessment in the Major: Four information literacy tests were administered on Assessment Day:

ISST: The online Information Seeking Skills Test (ISST) was required for the first year as a competency test for all first year students enrolled in Cluster One courses and for all transfer students. During the year, 3,129 students attempted the test, with 98 percent eventually passing.

Information Literacy Test: The ILT is now ready to market to other institutions. In March librarians from JMU and other Virginia universities and community colleges participated in a two-day standard-setting workshop conducted by Dr. Steve Wise of CARS; the outcome of the workshop was to determine the standard for successfully passing the ILT. The ILT was used to assess Virginia Community College students in 2004.

Librarians teaching for-credit courses:

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Commitment to Innovation

PDAs: The Libraries sponsored an innovative project for work with teaching faculty to integrate PDAs into the CISAT curriculum.

Wireless Connectivity: Thanks to an effort by JMU's IT division, wireless access in Carrier Library was expanded, eliminating most “dead” areas.

Streaming Media: The Library acquired video streaming servers and licenses for approximately 1,000 educational videos from Films for the Humanities. A combined effort between the Libraries and CIT will lead to a pilot project consisting of 100 high use titles to be made available to the JMU community a streaming format sometime next fiscal year.

Web Redesign: A new initiative to redesign the Libraries' web pages got under way during this fiscal year. Some prototype applications under development for FAQs, Research Guides, and faceted browsing of Research Databases. The Library purchased the newest version of Thunderstone for site searching, and upgraded to WebTrends version 7.0 for website statistics.

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Optimal Environment

Workspace Renovations: The working environment for numerous staff and library users was improved with workspace renovations in the basement, first, and second floors of Carrier Library. Renovations in the Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) in Carrier's basement provided expanded space for instructional technology development and the creation of a new video production facility for faculty. Two new faculty offices were added to the first floor, enabling the centralization of the new Digital Services unit. The Technical Services unit on the second floor was completely reconfigured to allow for growth of new staff positions, and improved workflow. Some increase in work space was achieved by utilizing unused space in the Microforms area.

Renovations in the CISAT Library for both public space and staff workspace were also completed during the year.

Building Use: The Carrier Library Building Use policy was updated; signage was added to indicate Quiet Zones and group study rooms and areas as defined in the Building Use Policy. Directional signage was also evaluated and updated.

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Quality Workforce

Staff Development: The Libraries developed an internal Staff Awards and Recognition program for both classified staff and wages personnel. The Staff Development sponsored nine organization-wide workshops or training events during the year, covering such topics as crime and safety issues, library database training, Internet search engines, and customized Microsoft Access training. Increased funding during this fiscal year also meant increased support for attendance at external training events and professional conferences for faculty and classified staff.

New Staff:

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Strategic Partnerships

VIVA and other partnerships : JMU Libraries continued its strategic partnership with VIVA, but also formed alliances with other institutional partners for cost-effective access to particular resources. Partners in cooperative license agreements for ScienceDirect and Wiley online journals included Virginia Tech, UVA, ODU, VCU, GMU, and the College of William and Mary. JMU also partnered in a joint license agreement with two other universities ( a New York state university and a private Virginia college library ) to obtain SciFinder Scholar, a key database for chemistry.

Collaboration with JMU Units:

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Looking to Next Year

Web Redesign: Completion of the first phase of this major overhaul of the Libraries web presence is tentatively scheduled for near the end of the next fiscal year. The project will involve staff from Digital Services, Systems and Technical Services. Included in the project is a redesign of the LEO interface, improved functionality of the many online services found on the Library web pages, including navigation and headers, access to databases and research guides, “What's New” and “Featured Connection” updates, and upgraded searching capabilities.

Preservation Issues: It is already known that the condition of the roof and regulation of heat and humidity in Carrier Library needs to be addressed. The preservation consultant likely will highlight these and other problems in his assessment of JMU Libraries. Follow-up on the consultant's recommendations will be a priority in the upcoming year, especially in the Special Collections area, where the collections are the most unique, and the need most critical.

New Library Building: Virginia's bond referendum for capital improvements, passed by voters in 2003, provides funding for a new library building on the CISAT campus. While the actual start date for this building is unclear, determining the vision for this building and preliminary planning will begin next year. Early discussions indicate that the new library will house science and technical collections to support the departments on the East Campus. Some portion of the building will also be devoted to a housing a Center for Teaching Excellence/Center for Instructional Technology to support faculty development. Pre-planning will involve outreach to students and faculty to gather input on user needs for the new facility.

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