OhioLINK useful University tool

Andy Ouriel and Andy Ouriel

Senior Amber Bryan is one of more than 67,000 people to take advantage of the program OhioLINK during her time at the University to help her get the information she needs for researching materials.

Endorsed by the University, Bowling Green is one of 86 schools across Ohio participating in OhioLINK, which allows the sharing of academic sources statewide to any student going to one of the participating schools.

But due to major budget realignments and possible cuts, OhioLINK could be one of several programs sponsored by University Libraries to be significantly affected due to the struggling U.S. economy.

“I think it’s very important to maintain OhioLINK,” Bryan said. “Taking away these resources will greatly affect our research.”

To back up Bryan and to preserve these resources, University Libraries has released a three-year review from 2005-2008 detailing the results that have contributed to the University and Bowling Green’s community.

In the report, University Libraries highlights major accomplishments the library has made in the last three years, statistical information and a listing of all the different departments offered.

Dean of Libraries Thomas Atwood understands the necessity for making these learning and resource centers as efficient as they can be, and with this detailed report, readers will have a better understanding of how effective they are, he said.

“The students are getting more because we are protecting the share cooperative among the libraries,” Atwood said in regards to preserving materials and making sure students have enough resources at their disposal. “I wanted to get the information out for our budget for people to see the library is a very good deal at Bowling Green.”

While some may think University Libraries only consists of the Jerome Library, as a whole, it also incorporates the Curriculum Resource Center, the Music Library, the Sound Recording Archives, Browne Library for Popular Culture Studies, Collections and Technical Services, Library Information and Technology Services, the OGG Science Library and all the research databases including OhioLINK, E-Books, E-Journals and searches on the University Libraries home page.

With all these libraries constituting one big organization, effectiveness and cooperation have to be put together in order for so many different departments to work as a cohesive group.

Through studies done on the subject, results show just how productive the University can be with its libraries.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2006, the University was compared to 10 other “benchmark” schools and ranked first in total circulation transactions, circulation transactions per person enrolled, library materials and materials per person enrolled.

Even by having the most in these categories, the University ranks in the middle of total money spent, making it cost-effective.

“The resources are very rich for the curriculum. The access to resources here at Bowling Green are greater than any other benchmark school,” Atwood said.

But even with Bowling Green beating the competition, University Libraries efforts on improvement have not stopped.

By adding more computers, laptop stations, remodeling many parts of the Jerome Library and making improvements to all libraries throughout, University Libraries is making a strong case for its programs not to be cut, Manger of University Libraries Budget Heidi Popovitch said.

“We have done a lot to improve the building for the changing student,” she said. “It’s no longer ownership of information, it’s access to it.”

University Libraries is also doing its best to keep up-to-date with technology-driven programs as opposed to hard copies.

Even though books are still prevalent throughout the libraries, there have been over one million Web page hits on the University Libraries home page.

“We aren’t a traditional library anymore,” Interim Associate Dean of University Libraries Sara Bushong said. “You have to adopt to a lot of formats to get all the information people need.”

But even with all the positive recognition University Libraries has given to the community, the high numbers of visitors and efficient-cost saving figures might not be enough to eliminate the thought of potential budget cuts.

“It’s really important to get the money because even though there are many resources on the Internet, a lot of items we purchase are specialized to the programs on our campus,” Bushong said.

And with the building plans for the new Stroh Center underway, the question of not when, but if the 42-year-old Jerome Library will get its own facelift has begun to circulate among the library staff.

“We would love to see a new building, but we also know some of the stuff done for athletics is done through donors,” Popovitch said. “We have wonderful donors for the library, but it would be very costly to get a new building and we are doing what we can with the budget and the donations.”

The non-traditional look of the library also hinders what the Jerome Library can offer to the students, Atwood said.

“We have a tower here, so it’s almost like having a different facility on each floor,” Atwood said. “The building itself is a challenge the way it’s laid out: The heating, air conditioning system, the traffic flow. We’re fortunate most of our services our on the main level, but even the elevators are a challenge.”

Even though getting a new building is not a realistic possibility at the moment, Atwood said he hopes the next three years can exceed the previous ones in order to help expand the potential University Libraries can and will offer to its students.

“The next three years are going to be challenging,” Atwood said. “All you have to do is see the troubles financially. We are paying dimes on the dollar for resources and that is critical.”

As for these ‘dimes on the dollar’, they might have to stretch out the available money even further to succeed in the near future.

“I believe the economy will turn around, but it will take longer than three years, so the pot of money will be tighter and the budget will get tougher,” Popovitch said. “We have to be fiscally responsible and meet the needs of the students and still be fiscally responsible.”

Even with all this skepticism, Atwood hopes the next three years still exceed the previous ones.

“We will do what we have to do to be successful,” Atwood said.