University Libraries
Annual Report

Making a Difference



From the Dean of the University Libraries
Most of us are drawn to the university environment because we have a passion for learning - for creating new knowledge and for sharing this knowledge with our students. We believe that education makes a difference in our students' lives. It enriches them while they are here, and supports personal and professional growth forever after. Each of us hopes to contribute something - classes, services, ideas, a personal encounter - that will be part of a student's enrichment process. We want to make a difference - not for personal recognition but because we are excited about what we do. We want each student to have an opportunity to understand and to share in that excitement.

It's definitely exciting to be part of the University Libraries as we approach the millenium. Technology allows us to give our users expanded access to resources, an opportunity to communicate and become engaged with a stimulating world of ideas, and a chance to learn new strategies for working with an increasingly complex information environment. At a very basic level we want each student's interactions with library staff, collections, and services to smooth the way through today's learning tasks - but even more, we aspire to make a difference in how students will continue to learn as they satisfy their needs to know and understand long after they have left Virginia Tech.

This report chronicles work of the Libraries in 1995/96 to make a difference.....

Eileen E. Hitchingham
Dean of the University Libraries


Collegiate Librarian Program

The College Librarian Program has evolved into an blend of traditional and innovative library services. In a traditional role, College Librarians continue to provide reference services, library instruction, and collection development; however, in response to the dynamic changes in the library and its services, College Librarians developed liaison Web Pages, assisted students and faculty in College offices with networked resources and worked to integrate library/information literacy into the curricula of their respective Colleges. The promotion of networked resources has been one of the program's biggest successes; the College Librarians have promoted many of our newest online services such as FirstSearch, Carl Uncover, ERL and Infotrac databases as well as the use of subject specific Internet resources, which is clearly welcomed by both faculty and students.

In the process of customizing library services each College Librarian made some unique contributions to the colleges:

  • participating in curriculum development
  • developing with faculty
  • providing customized workshops
  • assisting in the design and establishment of a World Wide Web Site for the College

The College Librarians started out as a small group of librarians serving four colleges: Education (Susan Ariew), Agriculture (Linda Maddux), Human Resources (John Tombarge), and Arts and Sciences (John Stemmer). During 1996 the program was expanded to include the College of Business. This expansion continued with the hiring of an Engineering, and an Arts and Sciences (Sciences) College Librarian. This unique program has a promising future in the collaborative efforts between the library and its clientele. As the library continues to change, the College Librarian Program can be the vehicle for enhanced communication to the Colleges and therefore to the University as a whole.


  • Volumes..............1,978,869

  • Serials.....................18,737

  • Government

  • Microforms............5,962,090

  • Computer files..............4,440

  • Maps......................128,658

  • Audio Tapes,
    Cassettes, CD's............8,210

  • Photographs...............64,220

  • Film & Video...............7,682


Scholarly Communications/Special Collections

The Scholarly Communications/Special Collections Department has worked to forge links with the past, to make available to teachers and researchers primary source materials which will enable them to explore different times and contributions of the past, and to reach out to the community within and beyond the university to share the richness of our resources.

Among the projects undertaken this year, the library forged new links with the local Blacksburg Community as well as the University Community through numerous projects.

  • The virtual exhibition "The Lyric Theatre--A Look Back at the Beginnings" was mounted on the World Wide Web on the same date (January 15, 1996) that the physical exhibition opened in Wallace Hall Gallery. The electronic exhibition makes available construction drawings and other historical materials that may be used for teaching and research. The exhibit also reaches out to the community beyond the university in its exploration of the Lyric which has long been a focal point for entertainment in Blacksburg.

  • "My Precious Loulie...": Love Letters of the Civil War" highlight Special Collections' many Civil War era manuscript collections including several with letters by soldiers to their loves. The Internet accessible exhibit of these letters gives life and personality to the soldiers in this great national conflict.

  • A History of the Department of Mathematics, 1872-1995 celebrated the centennial of the Department of Mathematics at Tech, the University Archive made the new departmental history Internet accessible. This project grew out of assisting mathematics department researchers as they wrote their history.

  • The Black Women at Virginia Tech History Project celebrates the accomplishments of the first black students, faculty, and staff at Virginia Tech. When graduate student, Elaine Carter discovered that there was no written history of black women at Virginia Tech, the University Archive worked in collaboration with the Virginia Tech Women's Center to identify the women who were "first" in various categories and to do oral history interviews with them about their entry experiences.


Collection Access

"I can't believe you upgraded those computers! It's so fast to search now! Thanks!" It's not often that students take the time to thank the person at the help desk for making their research easier, but the continual, prosaic upgrading of computer equipment is noticed and appreciated. Students remain ever flexible as the library changes our technology, loads new versions of software and rotates databases among standalone CD-ROM stations, and networks CD-ROM stations and Internet stations. Membership in VIVA allows the library to offer such highly used databases as InfoTrac and FirstSearch over the Internet.

Top Ten Databases
by Use






Sosci Index



Article First

American History and Life

The patrons coming into the library lobby who exclaim, "Where did all these computers come from?" have blinked and found the familiar Virginia Tech library metamorphosed around them. Computers have intensified the search for information and the increase in availability of full-text sources allows users the luxury of downloading research articles from the comfort of their dorm room.

No longer is a professor amazed when the librarian locates an abstruse Russian citation. Now the researcher comes to the librarian and asks if the book we don't have is on the shelf at the University of Arizona, where she will be at a conference on Friday. Librarians must be competent in navigating the Internet, searching and evaluating information that comes at a touch of the Search button in Netscape. Eager for a presence themselves on the Internet, Tech librarians have sought information in a variety of subjects and mounted web pages for Tech users and the world. Long known for their fine collections of books and journals in print and microform formats, the Virginia Tech Libraries are now helping the researcher identify and retrieve information electronically, wherever the information or the researcher happens to be.


Media Center & New Media Center

Public Services
  • Reference

  • Participation in
    Library Instruction....10,782

  • Circulation............452,468

  • Reserve...............288,464

  • In-House Use.......786,144

  • Microforms Used.....19,648

  • Electronic Searches...132,680

  • Interlibrary Loans
    Borrowed from Other

  • Photocopies........5,136,884

  • Information Guides
The Media Center implemented a service counter: MacHelp, dedicated exclusively to providing assistance to patrons of the computer lab. The pool of student assistants working this service point received specific MAC training and staff a desk equipped with a MAC, a telephone (complete with programmed speed dialing to lab technicians and 4-HELP) and a student generated reference manual.

Because it provides on-site support, the media facility is one of the busiest labs on campus. In January of 1996, the service provided at this counter was expanded by merging it with TechConnect. As part of Information Systems User Services, TechConnect provides connectivity software distribution, PID activation, password changes, and modem pool service applications.

The New Media Center provides unique multimedia facilities to patrons who take full advantage of multimedia technology and makes available to anyone in the community at large free access to sophisticated multimedia technology. This singular service has proven so popular with patrons that the Center had to expand its hours to include weekends, thus accommodating the schedules of those with business schedules of Monday through Friday, 9-5. Of the 369 classes held in the New Media Center, more than half (202) were community sponsored. Groups such as the Blacksburg Electronic Village, Blacksburg Seniors, YMCA, NRVNET, Boy and Girl Scouts of America held single and multiple session workshops, ranging in subject from fundamental computer use to sophisticated interactive multimedia design. Additionally the New Media Center began coordinating and offering free, single session evening classes on multimedia software to anyone interested. Thus far, these classes have been operating at capacity.


Assistive Technology/Special Services Lab

Newman Library and the EOAA Office have vigorously renewed their disability services and assistive technology efforts this year by a complete overhaul of the Special Services Lab at Newman Library. The renovations which included a new ceiling with adjustable spot lighting for specialized workstations, painting and electrical improvements, and a new array of fully adjustable furniture and accessible computer workstations greatly enhanced the facility. The Special Services Lab makeover also included procuring a second Arkenstone (assistive reading/text scanning) workstation for persons with low vision or blindness, several new adjustable low-vision magnifiers, and other generalized access equipment. Other new equipment included trackballs, adaptive keyboards, and several lab-built tables which provide mobility for the low-vision CCTV and for the Kurzweil assistive reader/text scanner.

In addition to Lab renovations, the renamed Assistive Technologies and Special Services Lab (AT-Lab) is forging new alliances with other educational and technology disciplines at Virginia Tech and working with EOAA to provide a complete range of generalized and individualized assistive technologies services for students, faculty, staff and the general public. Early successes of these alliances included participating in a computer recycling, training, and equipment loan program to school divisions and teachers in southwestern Virginia for students with disabilities and establishing a campus-wide licensing program for low-cost and fully-capable (Zoomtext) screen magnification software for persons with low-vision disabilities.


Library Faculty
The role of the University Libraries in meeting the information needs of our users is changing in many new and exciting ways. Librarians play a vital part not only in the day-to-day operations of the library but also in laying out a course for its future. As information professionals, librarians are in a unique position to help individuals sort through the vast flood of new information sources being driven in large part by advances in computer technology. One particularly important element of this effort has been teaching students and others how to critically evaluate the many new types of information they are finding over the Internet.

One major theme of the past year was increased emphasis on outreach activities. Much of this was accomplished through the Collegiate Librarian program. By being more proactive and having librarians work directly in the academic colleges, communication with the university community has been greatly facilitated.

Librarians participated in the campus-wide Faculty Development Initiative (FDI), teaching sessions related to information access in a networked environment. These sessions assisted faculty to achieve a higher level of computer proficiency, thereby enabling them in turn to enhance their research and teaching effectiveness. As faculty have adopted computers more heavily in their teaching, the library's Electronic Reserve has become increasingly important. Students can access materials placed on reserve in this manner at any time of the day or night.

In fact, throughout the library there has been a vastly increased emphasis on network-accessible resources. These are helping us to serve a broader base of people than ever before, many of whom might not otherwise have been reached. One satisfied user commented, "Such online resources, accessible from right here in my sitting room armchair, are real finds for me. Our household consists of my 83-year old mother and myself, both of us disabled and increasingly housebound ... But as some ... are fond of saying, when one door closes, another opens." The Internet also provides worldwide exposure for the University Libraries. Harry Kriz, for example, who developed a tutorial on Internet access noted that he had received queries from all seven continents including Antarctica!

Librarians have taken their responsibility seriously to serve the academic community by taking an active role in University governance. In 1995/96 Paul Metz, Principal Bibliographer, served as Vice-President of the Faculty Senate. Dr. Metz also headed up the Faculty Senate working group which developed the first official Post-Tenure Review policy for the University. On a broader level, members of the library faculty also provided representation on all of the other major University Commissions which comprise the governance system. Librarians have continued to be active in a wide range of professional development activities including speaking at state and national conferences and publishing articles.


Library Staff

On the frontline and behind the scene, seen and unseen, the classified staff members of the University Libraries acquire, process, catalog, shelve, retrieve and otherwise fill the informational needs of the academic community. From the Libraries' circulation desk to its lobby desk to its reference points to its photocopiers to its state of the art computer workstations, the staff of Newman Library and its branches in Art and Architecture, Veterinary Medicine, and Geology, strive to provide quality customer service, administrative support, and technical support to all users who enter its doors. Library classified staff have made a difference in library services in a number of ways:

  • Providing undergraduates, as well as upgrading/improving current interlibrary service by moving it from paper and cards to electronic access, the ILL staff conceived, designed, and implemented a new on-line infrastructure called ILLiad.

  • Staff in the New Media Center train customers on the use of computers and various software and have observed users going from helpless to competent computer users; e.g. senior citizen computing group meets regularly and maintains seniors page on the (considered one of the best pages of its kind in the country)

  • Business Services created the University Libraries Financial System (ULFS) to improve and make the library's financial business operation more efficient.

  • Personnel developed and implemented an on-line payroll system to improve wage payroll processes.

  • Automation maintained and upgraded public access computers in the lobby; assisted in maintaining the electronic reserve and assisted in creation and maintenance of ULFS, an on-line payroll system.


Staff Learning

If learning is important we have to live in a learning environment. The University Libraries is committed to ensuring that Libraries' staff have the opportunities to enhance their skills and abilities to meet the challenges of this evolving information age. A key element of the training initiative at the University Libraries involved the formation of the FUNdamental Skills Team whose purpose was to provide consistent, basic-level training for all employees at the Libraries. The training program was developed to ensure a standardized knowledge base for all library employees in both technical and interpersonal skills in order to improve overall staff performance and public services.

Classes began covered such topics as the Windows operating system and the Eudora email system. The FUNdamental Skills Team was also able to design and equip a new MS/DOS computer lab in the Newman Library to complement the two Mac labs already in existence and to facilitate training for those employees using Windows based machines.

Library training classes included the Mac operating system, computer troubleshooting, the library database, using the Internet, Microsoft Word, Excel and personal communication skills. Library Staff taught the classes. Utilizing in-house trainers had the added advantage of providing library employees an opportunity to enhance their teaching skills as well as giving them recognition for the highly developed skills which they had worked hard to obtain.

The program boosted morale in the University Libraries by enhancing employees' skills, bringing together people from different units and demonstrating the library's commitment to training and professional growth.

Faculty and Staff Achievements:
Publications, Presented Papers, Conference and Workshop Attendance 1995-1996.

Alan Armstrong has contributed a chapter to Every Student's Internet Resource Guide, edited by Sara Amato and published by McGraw-Hill, 1995.

Lowell Ashley has edited a new publication, Cataloging Musical Moving Image Materials, published by the Music Library Association (MLA) in its MLA Technical Report Series, 1996.

Dave Beagle and Marilyn Norstedt were inducted into the Academy of Faculty Service on May 1, 1996.

Jan R. Carlton, who served from 1973-1996 as the First Director of the branch library at Virginia Tech's Northern Virginia Graduate Center, was named the 1996 recipient of the Center's Distinguished Service Award. The award, sponsored by the local Phi Delta Kappa chapter, was presented to Ms. Carolton at the spring graduate ceremony held at the Center on May 19, 1996.

Virginia Chapman and Robert Sebek traveled to Glade Springs Resort on June 6, 1996, to make a presentation on digital imaging at the annual retreat for West Virginia University's senior administrators.

Joanne Eustis, Linda Maddux, and Dana Sally's article, "Adapting Information Services to New Realities: The Collegiate Librarian/Information Officer Program at Virginia Tech," was published in the July-September 1995 issue of the Virginia Librarian.

M. Jason Glover received the President's Award for Excellence in April, 1996. Jason was selected by the seven-member President's Award Committee during the 1996 winter.

Mary Hansbrough's article, "FUNdamental Skills: The Library Training Program at Virginia Tech" was published in, Virginia Libraries, 4(2) April/May/June 1996.

Beth Hanson was elected President-Elect of the Virginia Chapter of the Special Libraries Association for 1996-97.

Eileen Hitchingham's article, "Collection Management in Light of Electronic Publishing," has been published in Information Technology and Libraries, 15 (1): March 1996.

Diane Kaufman's article, "Building Preservation Awareness," was published in the November 1995 issue of College & Research Libraries News .

Tamara Kennelly's article, "Restoring the Cracked Mirror," that appeared in the January-March 1995 Virginia Librarian was published in the Northeast Document Conservation Center News, vol. 6, no. 2 (winter 1996).

John Lewis and James Powell coauthored a chapter, "ORG: Oracle Gateway," for a new book published by John Wiley & Sons, Developing CGI Applications with Perl.

Buddy Litchfield spent September 25 to October 6, 1995 in Riga, Latvia, working on a project to automate the National Library of Latvia. This is a project funded by the National Library of Sweden. Litchfield was a member of the team made up of Swedish librarians and systems staff that are bringing up a VTLS system at the National Library of Latvia. Litchfield was instrumental in setting up parameters for the system and taught cataloging, data entry, authority control, and database maintenance. Litchfield also participated in two demonstrations of the VTLS system and consulted with a representative from the Mellon Foundation who was visiting there in conjunction with a grant proposal to automate and network all of the college and research libraries in the Riga area.

Gail McMillan's paper, "A New Service from Libraries: Electronic Publishing," was published in Continuity & Transformation: The Promise of Confluence; Proceedings of the 7th National Conference of the Association of College and Research Libraries, published by ACRL/ALA. article, "Electronic Theses and Dissertations, Merging Perspectives," has been published in Cataloging and Classification Quarterly, 22(3/4), 1996.

Paul Metz and John Stemmer's article, "A Reputational Study of Academic Publishers," was published in the May 1996 issue of The College & Research Libraries News.

James Powell's book, HTML Plus!, has been published by the Integrated Media Group Of Wadsworth Publishing, June 1996.

Virginia Young co-authored with Usha Mehta an article, "Use of Electronic Information Resource: A Survey of Science and Engineering Faculty" in Science & Technology Libraries 15/3 (1995):43-54. Virginia also co-authored with Bobbie Carr, "Videotapes and Movies on Fluid Dynamics and Fluid Machines" in Handbook of Fluid Dynamics and Fluid Machinery edited by Joseph Schetz and Allen Fuhs, published by John Wiley, 1996.

Editor, Donald J. Kenney
Associate Dean of Administrative Services

Assistant Editor & Layout
Linda D. Southard

Special thanks to all the Department Heads for their contributions. A very special thanks to these library personnel who contributed: Eric Ackermann, Susan Ariew, Virginia Chapman Belser, Ed Lener, Ginger Young, Bill Holbach, Tamara Kennelly, Mary Hansbrough, John Stemmer.

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