I have to admit I didn’t know anything about the
I had to look up the quick facts. It is usually ranked first or second best public university by US News & World Report (though their state funding is down to 12%) and in the top 25 universities in general, usually comparable to the University of Michigan. They have 20,000 students, of which 4700 are grads, and 1700 are in law or medicine.
The Libraries are a happy place. They have numerous libraries scattered around campus, but we got to see three that are next to each other. The reception was at the Harrison Institute – a new special collections library that has a reception building above ground, but the collection is housed underneath the lawn and is marked by a few skylights that are visible above ground. I missed the reception, as I was having dinner with some family friends that teach at UVA, so I just took a quick look around and was duly impressed – similar to the underground set-up at Cornell.
Alderman Library is the Humanities & Social Sciences graduate library. I was most interested in seeing their Information Commons set-up, though I don’t think they call it that. As you walk in the door into the large main hall, you see it is divided into 4 areas: the café, the comfy seating area, the computers, and the circulation/information/reference desk. We talked to the circ students and they explained that they will answer simple reference questions if they are asked and know them, otherwise they are handled by the reference people. There is also an IT consultant available to answer technical questions at most times. There was a small ready reference collection by the desk. The reference room with a reference collection comparable to ours was off of the main hall. At the other end of the main hall was a passage to the Scholars Lab. This is a new area with high end computers, scanners and other equipment. It is used by students and faculty to create digital projects. My friend Dr. Benjamin Ray had worked with this lab to scan and XML code the transcripts of the
The Clemons Library is the undergraduate library and we just had time to peek in the first floor main room. The room was full and bustling and Barbara and I thought it rather loud. The room was one large open space with different pods for computers, comfortable chairs, and tables. Along one wall were booths with padded seating and a table for working. As you walked in, there was a circulation/information desk – which acted as both circulation and reference. In the middle of the room was an IT consultant’s desk, which was not staffed at the time (8:30pm), and the reference person complained about them constantly changing their schedule. On one side was a Reserves desk.
My faculty friend said everyone was very happy with the library. They get books delivered to their offices, and he talked of a Tool Kit, which I later found out was a home grown course management software, that lets faculty create their own online coursepacks/course reserves. They have also negotiated for lower prices on journals with the help of lawyers.