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January 9, 2005

University Libraries use Technology to Expand Delivery of Materials, Services

For the first time in the University Library System’s (ULS) history, electronic reserves for selected student readings have usurped traditional print reserves.

But not all faculty know about the electronic reserves or the Libraries to Go program, which offers free delivery – either in person or electronically – of research materials such as journal articles and books.

To inform faculty about electronic reserves and other new library services, the University Senate library committee will help ULS launch an information campaign on the Pittsburgh campus this spring.

“There are probably faculty who do not know the variety of services available for teaching and research, especially the new faculty,” said Rosemary Hoffmann, an instructor in the Department of Acute and Tertiary Care in the School of Nursing. She co-chairs the Senate committee with Michael Vanyukov, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, psychiatry and human genetics.

ULS is working on a communication plan, which it expects to finish in March or April, according to ULS director Rush Miller.

“We really are looking at how to communicate better – on our traditional collections,” he said. “And how well are we doing meeting research needs of faculty. We’re looking at how we communicate the availability of services to faculty and students and package them in a multi-tier approach.”

There’s always been a need to communicate to faculty and students, Miller said, but the staggering rate of technological change – especially in the library world – makes communication all the more important.

New and not-so-well-known services at ULS include:

-Faculty can offer many traditional reserve readings on-line with the ULS electronic reserve system this fall. Students can reach their on-line destination by either going through CourseWeb or a specially designated URL, requiring a password.

Currently more than 60 courses assign electronic reserves in a library pilot program.

“In the past, students would have to line up and wait for an article to become available,” said Amy Knapp, assistant director for public services at ULS. “Now with electronic reserves, there’s simultaneous access for students. And it’s more convenient for faculty to place information in reserve, because so much more can be done electronically than in-person.”

To learn more about how to place materials in electronic reserve, visit or contact Ann McLeod, 8-7805, head of access services at Hillman Library.

-Pitt has become an institutional member of BioMed Central (, an open access publishing house providing immediate, free access to peer-reviewed biomedical research. Instead of collecting subscription fees charged by traditional journals, open access journals raise operating revenue by collecting fees from authors.

Institutional membership entitles all Pitt researchers and students to publish an unlimited number of research articles in journals published by BioMed Central without paying article-processing fees. The publishing house has over 100 journals ranging from general interest publications such as the Journal of Biology to specialty on-line-only journals. BioMed Central also publishes Faculty of 1000, a leading literature evaluation service. To access BioMed Central publications, go to the Health Sciences Library System’s databases at

Authors who publish original research articles in BioMed Central journals retain copyright over their work.

All research articles are peer-reviewed through electronic submission.

-Libraries to Go offer free scanning of journal articles and book delivery for registered faculty, courtesy of funding from the Provost’s office. About 17,000 materials have been delivered since the program began in the summer of 2003 with more than 250 faculty users registered.

-Electronic publishing initiatives from Pitt’s Digital Research Library include faculty web sites such as Vezeley Benedictine Abbey and Visuals for Foreign Language Instruction. “We want this service more widely known,” Miller said. “We can help the people who are trying to mount content for students and other faculty.”

-Article Linker allows ULS to provide a link – a seamless function for the library user — from a citation to a page that connects electronically to the full text of the cited article – if ULS owns the content.

-Also seamless to users are the links from Google Scholar, a new academic search engine. Once Google Scholar recognizes a user’s IP from the University of Pittsburgh, the user can link to journal articles, etc. subscribed to by the University.

– The search engine Zoom on the ULS site offers multiple literature searches simultaneously.

-The University now requires electronic theses and dissertations. ULS mounts them on a server and supports the technology. Currently, about 400 theses and dissertations have been loaded in PDF format and are searchable in PITTcat and Google. “Electronic use of these materials have been dramatically high,” said Miller. “Some dissertations have had thousands of users from all over the world.”

More information on ULS services can be found at

Filed under: Feature,Volume 37 Issue 9

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