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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue:  April 8, 2002
Volume 37, Number 18

Would you like coffee with that?
Zimmerman Library services respond to student requests

By Carolyn Gonzales

Dave Baldwin in his Zimmerman Library office. Photo by Carolyn Gonzales.Dave Baldwin, director of the University of New Mexico’s Zimmerman Library, took the helm of the University’s flagship library in January and is already looking at some changes and issues that need to be addressed.

“We have a challenge to provide coverage at four public service desks – Circulation, Reference, Government Information and Microforms,” Baldwin says. Five years ago, the UNM General Library (UNMGL) had 47 librarians. “That number is down to around 33. We’ve gone from two faculty senators down to one in that time frame. We’ve also had staff vacancies go unfilled,” Baldwin says, adding that the library relies more and more on student employees.

And at this point in time, the Student Fee Review Board (SFRB) has the library in its second year of probation during which the library was to address some student concerns so that UNMGL could continue to receive student fee money. One issue: Library hours.

“Students expressed a desire to have Zimmerman Library open until 2 a.m. during closed and finals weeks. We are going to do a quick survey in April to find out if the students would, in fact, use the library if it were open that late,” says Baldwin. If the survey reveals a genuine need, then staff and student workers will be reassigned to cover those hours.

Another student request is for a coffee shop in the library. Plans are already underway to have a coffee cart in Zimmerman’s basement, on the tile area outside the copy center. “The SUB offered us some furniture and said they are willing to staff the coffee cart during open library hours,” Baldwin says. The cart will offer coffee – regular and decaf, as well as tea. Food sales may be added later.

“Some literature indicates that individuals who haven’t been in the library in years come back if you make it a more inviting place.”
Dave Baldwin

“This means we need to adjust the food and drink policy in the library,” says Baldwin. He says the literature from other libraries providing the service indicates no increase in damage to library materials or an increased pest problem. “Some literature indicates that individuals who haven’t been in the library in years come back if you make it a more inviting place. Coffee is one way to do that,” he says. Libraries that don’t adjust to the changing tide see diminished numbers, he says.

Baldwin says that library services are at a crossroads between the virtual and physical realms. “Some disciplines may ultimately go almost exclusively electronic, but I think there will always be book users. Right now, it’s a delicate balance between paper and electronic resources,” he says.

He wants to compact the bound journals so that they take up fewer shelves and he would like to create a current display area where people can sit comfortably and read the periodicals. Much of the work that Zimmerman is engaged in now is in anticipation of the visit by a library space consultant who will be coming mid-April. “Our goal is to have a proposed space plan when the new dean comes on board,” he says.

The library is also about service. UNMGL is one of 168 institutions participating in LIBQUAL+, a study that assesses the quality of library service. Texas A&M will compile the results, Baldwin says, and eventually a measure of service may be incorporated into the rankings assigned by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).

“The UNM General Library is committed to working with students and faculty to better understand their evolving research needs.  We also want to create an environment that encourages and supports learning.  All libraries are being challenged to look at services and collections within a rapidly changing environment.  These are very interesting times for universities and libraries,” says Nancy Dennis, library director of collections and technology services.