Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Waiting for the Mail is Old School

When I was a college student our mail boxes were inside the front door of our dorm. We checked them several times a day -- when we left for classes, when we came back from classes, walking by on the way to the television (no, we didn't our own televisions in our room...) etc. Fast forward. University of Rochester students each have a CPU box in the university building that houses the post office, but not in their dorms. They rarely get print mail. Their parents call them and text them. They facebook and text their friends. They almost never GET mail so they almost never go and check their CPU boxes. As one student told me, they're mostly filled with chinese take-out menus...

So why does the University still send *important* notifications in print to CPU boxes?? As an adviser, I get copied in on these official letters. I immediately scan the letter and resend it by email with a follow-up on facebook. On more than one occasion, my email is the first time that the student has learned that they are in danger of failing, being expelled, etc. etc. Yikes!

Why on earth do we insist on communicating with students the way we did when we were undergraduates?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We need stack locations

I sat next to Stephen a few weeks ago in a Stackmap demo. He pointed out something to me that I had never registered in TEN YEARS. Sigh. Our catalog records don't include a floor location for Rush Rhees library. This isn't a problem for art books with the notation "Art Stacks - Art/Music Library". However this is a HUGE problem when you're looking for a book on one of the thirteen floors of stacks in Rush Rhees. Users have to take the call number, go to a little map on the wall which translates to the floor and then go to the floor. Not only are our stacks scary (lights on timers...), we make it really hard to find things. I over heard a campus tour guide the other day announce to her group "books are really hard to find". I'm afraid I would have to agree.

I'm sure there was a good reason for not include floor locations originally, but I think it's time to revisit that decision. Yes, we do shift books from floor to floor. But we don't shift them every day. While the current arrangement makes OUR life easier, it makes finding the books really really difficult for users.