Courier service unable to keep up with library demands

by Nathan Whalen

Students have found themselves waiting too long for books because the Science and Engineering Library has continually experienced delays getting information to its patrons.
University officials set up a courier service to get books to students and faculty members because the library holdings have been moved to alternate locations that are inaccessible to users during an 18-month renovation of Walter Library.
However, the courier service is unable to keep up with the volume of requests, creating a backlog.
“I have to wait a day, and I don’t have a day,” said Rick Hauck, a civil engineering major.
Suzan Hallgren, team leader for information access and information services, said she hopes to have delay solutions in place by the end of the month.
The library materials are divided between their new location at the Norris Hall gymnasium and the caverns of the brand new Andersen Library.
Since the caverns are not designed for a high volume of users, a courier service was hired to transport materials between Anderson Library and Norris gym twice a day.
Because library users were able to browse through library bookshelves before the relocation, professors and students now order higher-than-normal amounts of books at one time through the courier service, returning unwanted books.
“We have a lot of hidden use,” Hallgren said, referring to the inaccurate circulation figures. The libraries keep track of materials people check out of the library, but not of the information people use within the library.
Library officials said requests for information have taken from several hours to several days. One unfortunate civil engineering graduate student, Atif Sheikh, said he waited six days to receive a book.
Delays in the courier system started when Walter Library closed and the Andersen caverns were not quite complete. The delays have set back the move’s completion a month. Workers were still moving the collection when school started.
During this time, parts of the collection were inaccessible because the books were packed away in boxes, where they will remain for 18 months. Space is at a premium in the cavern, so steps have to be taken to condense the material into the smallest possible space.
Library officials have turned to other schools for some books. They said it is quicker to send away for information through the Interlibrary Loan program than it would be to find it in the boxes.
There are some possibilities to gain quicker access to the material by venturing down into the caverns and obtaining books.
A person can browse through the materials in the cavern as long as they are accompanied by a staff member and limit their visits to 90 minutes.
Another way to speed up the access to information in Andersen is for users to avoid the courier service by visiting the science and technology desk at Andersen Library. The desk is in the location of the old Riverbend Cafe, which can be accessed from the basement of Willey Hall.

Nathan Whalen covers construction and welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3236.