Appraising Our Past, Charting Our Future

Introduction Highlights, Special Events & Awards Fiscal Operations Public Services
Collection & Acquisitions Services Technical Services Personnel Facilities Marketing & Outreach

 

PUBLIC SERVICES

Reference and Research Services
Reference and Research Support
Circulation, Interlibrary Loan Services and the DDC/Computer Lab
Public Services Facts and Figures for 2003-2004

 

The Library public services unit is comprised of two departments: Reference and Research Services and Circulation and Interlibrary Loan Services.

Reference and Research Services

The Seattle University Law Library Reference and Research Services performs such essential functions as formal instruction (lectures, tours, orientations, independent studies, research consultations), as well as reference and research support (faculty liaisons, co-curricular/program liaisons, reference desk, e-reference, research portal, research guides, virtual tour).

Hear Professor Chiappinelli's views on library services.

Teaching/Instruction

Librarians teach in a variety of ways: formal lectures, tours, orientations, and one-on-one consultations. By including all public service librarians in the teaching rotation, the Advanced Legal Research course can now be offered both fall and spring semesters. Additionally, the Library continues to offer courses on specialized research topics such as International and Foreign Legal Research (taught by Bob Menanteaux and Kerry Fitz-Gerald in fall 2004), and will be introducing a new specialty research course in 2005 (Kristin Cheney’s Advanced Electronic Legal Research). The librarians teach legal research in the Legal Writing program during the fall and spring, offering lectures and research tours tailored to the legal writing assignments, such as the Research Refresher for 2L Students and the Cite Checking Workshop.

Librarians also lecture in substantive law courses, providing in-class topical research sessions and they deliver research-related presentations to visitors, CLE attendees, and students from other campus departments. During fiscal year 2003-04, the librarians taught more than 100 instructional sessions to over 2,500 attendees on a wide range of legal research topics.

Each year the law librarians welcome the new first year students by participating in summer and fall orientation sessions and providing library tours. Library information packets are distributed, augmented by our web-based guides on the first year of law school and exam taking for incoming students.

Over the year, the reference librarians engage in numerous one-on-one research consultations with students for course writing assignments, journal article preparation and other research projects. With the faculty's recent passage of the revised independent study guidelines, law students must consult with an "assigned research librarian." The librarians worked with approximately 35 students on their independent study projects during the 2003-04 academic year on a diverse range of legal issues.

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Reference and Research Support

Liaison program

The Library’s liaison program has been extremely successful. Instituted in 2001, the formalized faculty liaison program is designed to foster greater contact between faculty and the librarians. Each faculty member is assigned a librarian liaison who monitors and proactively responds to the faculty member's instructional and scholarly needs and serves as the faculty member's primary contact person within the Library. The liaison program has expanded to include the growing number of visiting faculty and visiting scholars as well as various co-curricular programs. Since the program’s inception, the average number of faculty members assigned per librarian has increased from 15 to 20. Librarians are also assigned as liaisons to various co-curricular programs, including: ATJI, Center on Corporations, Law and Society, Law Review, SJSJ, ARC, LLM, Moot Court, ADR and CLE. While the over 70 adjuncts are not assigned individual librarian liaisons, they are increasingly availing themselves of librarian research support.

The goal of the Law Library's liaison program is to assist faculty with their scholarly research and teaching endeavors and to provide academic support for co-curricular programs. All new faculty receive a faculty library services guide and welcome letter from his or her assigned librarian liaison. Many faculty have shown their appreciation for librarian research support by acknowledging the librarians and library personnel in their scholarly works. The Library continues to evaluate the program to expand and refine services.

Library faculty liaison services include:

Scholarly Support
The librarians provide research support on a broad range of topics, including legal and non-legal information.
Tailored Lectures/Research Guides
The librarians provide in-class or in-library lectures and demonstrations on research techniques and materials in specific topical areas. Web- or paper-based resource guides can be prepared that are tailored to specific classes: http://www.law.seattleu.edu/library/startingpoints/

Student Research Consultations
Faculty who teach seminars on advanced topics and courses with writing projects often encourage their students to set up individual research consultations with a librarian to review research resources and strategies.

Research Assistant Training
The librarians train and work with RAs on effective research strategies and suggested resources.

Current Awareness
To aid faculty in keeping abreast of developments in particular areas, the librarians recommend current awareness tools and set up regular electronic clip searches. Additionally, the librarians run preemption checks to see if others have published on a particular topic of interest. The librarians routinely keep faculty apprised of new materials (print or online) added to the collection and scan catalogs and bibliographies to inform faculty of important new literature and forthcoming publications.

Course Preparation
Librarians provide research support and background information for faculty developing new courses or updating existing courses. In preparation for new courses, the librarians will review library resources and make suggestions for additions to the collection within budgetary parameters.

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Reference Desk

The Reference Desk is a key service point for law library patrons to obtain research assistance, ranging from quick information to in-depth research projects to point of need teaching on legal and non-legal research techniques. During the academic year, the Reference Desk is staffed over 60 hours per week, including nights and weekends by the Library’s five reference/research librarians with help from the technical services/systems librarian and the collection development/associate executive librarian. We average 40 questions per day (with a high of 90 and a low of 25) covering a wide variety of topics. In a typical day, questions at the desk run the gamut from short answer queries, (e.g. whether we have a certain resource in the collection, request for the text of a particular judicial opinion), to longer research projects (e.g., legislative history of a Washington initiative, application of the European Human Rights Convention to British territories).

While our primary patrons are Seattle University law students, faculty and staff, we do receive a number of questions from alumni, main campus patrons, affiliated users, and local librarians. We have also been called upon to provide service to displaced members of the local bar, pro se patrons and public when other local libraries (UW and King County) have been temporarily closed or renovated. Providing reference service to such a diverse patron base presents challenges in terms of the resource(s) utilized to assist the patron (many online resources restrict usage), the type of research technique employed, the scope of the legal research and analysis and the ever present conflict between providing superior legal research without engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. However, the librarians working at the Reference Desk thrive on meeting the challenges inherent in a dynamic work environment.

Our library reference philosophy as explained by Bob Menanteaux.

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Reference in an Electronic Environment

Patrons are increasingly using web interfaces or online databases to conduct their research from remote locations. In response, the Library is constantly seeking innovative ways to reach out to our patrons. To ensure that those working from remote locations have reference assistance, the Library implemented an e-reference service for alumni, students, faculty and staff. E-reference patrons fill out a form explaining the nature of their question, and the reference librarians monitor and respond to requests during regular reference service hours. E-reference questions can be tricky to answer since the librarian is not involved in a face-to face interaction

Additional remote assistance is provided through a variety of online research guides. Authored by the librarians, these guides direct patrons to resources of interest and are available on our public research portal. The Law Library research portal is available 24-7, and includes our online catalog, database listings, and suggested internet links. Our award winning virtual library tour allows remote patrons to familiarize themselves with the Library and its collections. In the future, we hope to increase our assistance to remote patrons by developing self-guided, interactive online tutorials.

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Circulation, Interlibrary Loan Services and the DDC/Computer Lab

The Seattle University Law Library Circulation Department is a key service unit in the Library, administering such essential operations as material check-out/return/renewal, course reserves, looseleaf filing, fines, interlibrary loan and document delivery, as well as running the Document Delivery Center/Computer Lab. The Circulation Department is staffed with four experienced library staff members and employs approximately 30 student assistants. Together, they cover the over 100 hours per week of scheduled service desk hours and provide a broad range of services offered to law library patrons.

As the Circulation Desk and DDC/Computer Lab are the only service desks in Sullivan Hall operating on extended hours, the circulation staff plays a dual role in maintaining library operations while monitoring security issues. While the students and staff are trained in basic security procedures, the Law Library relies heavily on off-site campus security to address security needs, especially when the Library is open and unstaffed for periods of time.

Patron Access and Outreach

The Law Library is open to all Seattle University faculty, staff, students, and alumni who are engaged in research or studies that require the use of legal material (see our access policy). Circulation privileges are limited to faculty, staff, currently enrolled students, and individuals, law firms, or alumni who purchase library memberships. Members of the general public can purchase a $5 day pass for access to the Library with no circulation privileges.

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Alumni Outreach

In 2003, the Law Library expanded service to our alumni with a new membership plan. The plan entitles the holder to one year of library borrowing privileges for an annual fee of $25. Our previous policy allowed alumni unlimited in-house access to the Library, but no material could be checked out. Now alumni can check out five circulating items at a time, with a thirty-day loan period. We are pleased to report that our alumni membership has increased to fifty-six members and alumni have been very receptive to this service. The Law Library Alumni Services & Policies Guide describes our full range of alumni services and the Library continues to respond to alumni needs and research interests.

Community Outreach

With the summer 2003 closure of the Gallagher Law Library, and the reorganization of King County Law Library, our law library’s patron load increased substantially. UW law students were given free access to our resources (subject to licensing limitations). The number of attorneys and pro se patrons increased, as did the number of requests for services, including reference. We also loaned more materials to other libraries via interlibrary loan while the UW and King County collections were inaccessible. Although these events kept the library staff quite busy, the increased patron traffic in the Library did not deter us from providing continued assistance to our current law students, faculty, and staff.

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Circulation Services

As is true of most research libraries, only a portion of our collection circulates. Overnight reserve books, course reserve items and exams circulate frequently, with our expanded study aid collection also in high demand. In response to a request from the SBA, the Law Library is now making available one copy of each required first year casebook for two-hour check out. The first year casebook collection is available for quick reference or limited photocopying and is not intended as a substitute for student purchase of casebooks.

Some materials in our collection are almost too "popular" and have been steadily disappearing (e.g., study aids, WSBA desk books, Washington Practice). A new locked door has been installed behind the Circulation Desk to secure the materials in the library closed reserve section. Additionally, certain materials which were formerly housed in the open reserve collection have been moved to closed reserve for the same reason. For photographic examples of missing and defaced materials in the collection, see our article entitled, Ripped Off: Stolen and Vandalized Books Hurt the Library and Users.

The Library’s growing video collection prompted the addition of two 27” flat screen combination color TV/DVD/VCR viewing units for the MultiMedia Room (204). This new equipment is in direct response to heightened demand for audio-visual formats in support of classroom teaching and individual study.

Because a large part of the Library collection is on microfilm and microfiche, the Library recently purchased a Minolta MS 6000 high speed digital microform scanner which features sharp, clean images and can scan images from microform to a connected PC for use on Web sites, in e-mail, or in desktop publishing.

The newly acquired dual flat screen monitors at the Circulation Desk facilitate teaching patrons how to search our catalog, find library policies, fill out ILL request forms, and look at their record online without leaving the circulation service area.

Additionally, the Library has several web-based guides explaining general library policies and procedures as well as outlining student, faculty, and alumni services.

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Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary loan (ILL) provides access to material needed for academic purposes that are not available at the Law Library or at Lemieux Library. ILL requests may be made through our online form, at the circulation and reference desks, or for faculty via your librarian liaison. The ILL department reports that interlibrary loan requests have risen steadily in the last few years and recent ABA statistics confirm the trend. In the 2003 ABA report, Seattle University Law Library was ranked 48th out of 186 law schools for the items borrowed via interlibrary loan, a rate comparable to larger research libraries. The upsurge can be attributed to a number of factors, including vigorous faculty scholarship, varied student independent-study projects and two successful law journals. Although the Library is processing more requests, our overall cost of doing business has significantly decreased. This is remarkable considering many libraries now charge between $10 and $30 to borrow a single item from their collections. Several factors have contributed to our success in keeping costs down. The Library takes advantage of relationships with a variety of consortia under which libraries across the country agree to share resources at no cost (e.g., LVIS Libraries Very Interested in Sharing). The acquisition of ARIEL, an online document delivery service, has saved us both postage and handling costs. The interlibrary loan staff strive to select the most cost effective tools and methods available to obtain material without sacrificing fast, efficient service.

In Spring 2004, the Law Library and main campus Lemieux Library became members of a regional library consortium, called the Orbis Cascade Alliance, serving more than 180,000 faculty and students from 27 member institutions. The consortial catalog, Summit, provides information on more than 22 million books and other materials owned by university and college libraries in Oregon and Washington. Direct borrowing is available to students and faculty at member institutions. As an aid to quick delivery of borrowed items, the consortium administers a courier service providing daily pick-up and delivery of library materials at 60 libraries in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. It also supports a cooperative purchase program for databases, electronic journals, electronic books, and other digital library material.

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Document Delivery Center (DDC)/Computer Lab

The Document Delivery Center/Computer Lab contains computers, printers and photocopy services for law students.

Lab assistants monitor and sort printouts and field basic questions. Lexis and Westlaw representatives hold office hours. Although the School of Law requires that all entering students own laptops, there is consistent usage of the DDC/Computer Lab. The Library now has two dedicated Westlaw printers and a Lexis printer to accommodate the high volume.

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Public Services Facts and Figures for 2003-2004

  • Reshelved 170 books per day on average
  • Filed 6,000 looseleaf/supplement pages per week on average
  • Filed 1,300 fiche cards per week on average
  • Handled 37,000 checkouts, checkins and renewals of materials annually
  • Borrowed 736 items on interlibrary loan annually
  • Loaned 222 items on interlibrary loan annually
  • Supported 1,200 hits per week on the library research portal
  • Welcomed over 2,000 alumni, membership and public patrons throughout the year to the library
  • Answered 40 reference questions per day on average
  • Taught over 100 research classes
  • Advised on 35 independent studies

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Aspirations/Challenges

Reference and Research Services

The expanded scope of the reference librarians’ teaching and liaison responsibilities have presented staffing challenges. Other members of the Law Library staff have supported these efforts by taking on additional reference shifts, assisting with document delivery and retrieval and providing administrative support. The Library has also utilized interns and law students on various projects and has employed temporary/contract librarians at the reference desk. The law school administration has acknowledged that these measures do not address the workload issue in a consistent and systematic way and is currently exploring various options to address the issue on a long term basis.

Circulation, Interlibrary Loan Services and the DDC/Computer Lab

With a permanent staff of only 4, the Circulation Department relies heavily on both undergraduate and law student workers. This ever changing group of student workers poses both scheduling and training challenges. Although new student workers automatically receive introductory training on policies and procedures, in response to our recent LibQUAL survey, future training will also address demeanor, appropriate attire and work expectations. It is hoped that cross-training computer lab and circulation student assistants will provide additional flexibility in meeting the needs of both areas.

The Circulation Department will continue to investigate additional ways to streamline our ILL procedures (e.g., e-mail notices, correspondence templates, increase Ariel usage) as well as our check-out process (self-checkout and renewal).

Security remains an issue. The Library simply does not have enough permanent personnel, nor can it attract an adequate number of students, to staff the library during all access hours (7:00am - midnight daily). This inability to consistently monitor library activity is an ongoing concern.