Written by Carsie Mendoza, Staff Writer
When students on the Doheny and Chalon campuses returned to classes this fall, the libraries were probably much more colorful than they were originally expected to be. A project that has been in the works since the 1970s has finally come to fruition.
In the late 1970s, MSMU received funding to digitalize the library catalog in contrast to the card catalog system that was currently in place. Unfortunately, there were not enough funds so not all books were able to be put into the system. This meant that the library had books ready to be checked out but weren’t because they didn’t exist in the catalog. Then in 2014, things began to change.
I sat down with MSMU’s Interim Director of Libraries, Dr. Ruth Jackson, as she explained how this project that had been stalled for years, finally was getting achieved.
Jackson explained that “MSMU authorized a needs-assessment study of the library and they employed one of the top consulting firms, Aaron Cohen… One of his recommendations was that the collections needed to be weeded.”
Taking that into consideration, the libraries’ staff members looked through the collections and discovered a massive difference between the number of books in the libraries than what they believed. They also discovered that 40 to 60 percent of the books in the libraries were not cataloged, which for a library is horrible and unacceptable.
Determined to make this right, the libraries’ staff, volunteers, and student workers, who, according to Dr. Jackson, “Made this project happen and make sure it succeeded,” started the Library Inventory Project which was comprised of three parts.
The first was to read all the book titles and make sure they were in the right location. This took a long time as Chalon and Doheny’s libraries have a very big and interesting collection. However, they finished Doheny in December of 2015 and Chalon in April of this year. The second part of inventorying all the books is currently under way. They will print out the online catalog, go through the shelves, and check all the books again. If there are any books not in the system, they will put bookmarks in it later so those books can be put in.
An impressive part of this step is all of the high-tech devices being used to get this done. MSMU ordered 6 smartphone and tablet devices for each library to use a new software called TheWORK. It will take a picture of the title page from any book, send it to a national database called OCLC (The Online Computer Library Center, Inc), and it will add the book to the catalog automatically, saving a lot of time.
Doheny’s library will be finished by September and Chalon will be finished sometime after. Then, MSMU’s professors and library faculty will go through all books and resources to determine what to keep and what to give to an outside vendor.
This project will be finished by the end of 2017. Students, faculty, and staff members will have a new and improved catalog to search on. Although, this isn’t the end for improvement at the Mount libraries.
“What we want to do to these libraries is to turn them into information columns, which means technology being more present with students being able to access application software,” Dr. Jackson says, “We’re going to have workstations in more places than we have now… users will be able to access the library systems easier on their own devices.”
As we head into what the future has in store, Mount students can rest assured that the Mount libraries will always be there to support and guide us to becoming #Unstoppable.
“Books will be around for a long time, they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon,” Dr. Jackson said.
Photos by MSMU Archives