Posted at 12:25 p.m., May 4, 2015

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Community college libraries show difference

Whether it has been student research, study or preparation, one place facilitates them all: the library.

In the past few years while attending Laramie County Community College, you might have found yourself frequenting the college library more than other community colleges in Wyoming. Don’t believe me? Well, compared to Casper College’s Goodstein Foundation Library in 2012, the Ludden Library has seen you and your colleagues visit an average of 4,918 times in a week.

This can be seen as an impressive figure because the Goodstein Foundation Library has seen its students come only 1,900 times in an average week despite the fact that the Goodstein Foundation Library is open nine hours more a week than LCCC’s library.

The 38 percent increase probably has you raising your eyebrows on how much of a difference there is for the two community colleges of the same size.

Since 2012, LCCC has added more materials than it originally held unlike Casper College, which who had more materials prior to 2012 and, therefore, added fewer. The Ludden Library added 416 more items in 2012, but this is because it has dealt with materials much differently than Casper College.

Materials outsourced

The Goodstein Foundation Library has changed how it processes its new books and has been in transition since. All its new materials were outsourced. The Ludden Library, on the other hand, isn’t concerned with outsourcing material; it has always processed internally. This year, however, other factors such as staffing and hiring a new director may have caused some institutional changes possibly affecting the outsourcing policies. Once the new director was hired, the issue of backlog surfaced, causing outsourcing to begin.

At LCCC, however, the librarians aren’t concerned with getting behind. “We manage to keep up,” said LCCC’s Library and Learning Commons associate dean, Karen Lange. “We have a very efficient system put into place.”

On the other hand, Casper College had 2.37 percent more materials before adding in 2012 with 78,111 held at LCCC. The reason is Casper College houses bachelor-level programs, which cause it to receive funds from the University of Wyoming. It receives legislative line item funds that go directly to Casper College for its library to purchase materials to support students in the upper-division courses, which LCCC does not offer.

Size of facility a factor

Another factor is Casper College’s Goodstein Foundation is a three-story facility. LCCC is the second to the smallest of all Wyoming community colleges, so it limits the size of its collection based on the size of the facility. LCCC’s size also factors in the number of materials it has per student. LCCC has an average of 17 magazines and books per student compared to Casper College’s 48, and in order to compensate for that the Ludden Library moved to purchasing electronic books.

The number of e-books the Ludden Library added in 2012 was 106 percent more than the Goodstein Foundation Library. “Purchasing E-books has been a response to and also the direction libraries are going,” Lange said.

Students today want immediate information, and materials the library must offer them anywhere, anytime, anyplace and in any environment. “We know that’s what our students want and that they expect, and so we want to provide that service to them.” With that comes one type of material that is used frequently in the library: audiovisual (AV) material.

Interestingly enough, Casper College never developed an AV collection until recently. The Ludden Library, on the other hand, has always had AV material because many faculty used it in the classroom.

“We’ve always been real heavy on the AV material here at LCCC, whereas Casper College has never focused on that,” Lange said.

As the Ludden Library is now removing old AV material like VHS and adding new ones, it has moved toward having three or four vendors from whom streaming media are purchased. This has become much easier in recent years because of the support from the Wyoming Legislature.

Legislature provides funding

In 2006, Lange was contacted by a state legislator, Mike Massie, who wanted to do something for Wyoming libraries. When evaluating the needs of each college’s budget and seeing they did not meet the needs for the electronic world, that something became $3.2 million from the Legislature as one-time funding in 2006.

Lange then went to the executive director of the Wyoming Community College Commission seeking out a way to make the funding permanent, enabling every community college in the state to purchase electronic materials. “I feel comfortable with it and the material that we have to offer our students,” she said.

Lastly, regarding the number or presentations attended, hours the library is open, and the number of visits in an average week, it is safe to say it’s not about the material but the service.

“Our librarians have done an excellent job of outreach to our faculty to stress the importance of information literacy,” Lange said about the way the librarians have helped students access the information and know how to use it.

Casper College has more staffing to allow for longer hours of operation, but the reason students come to the Ludden Library, Lange said, is the library itself is a friendly environment. “People find it an exciting, welcoming and comfortable environment, and that has been our goal,” she said.

Ludden Library

Goodstein Foundation Library

National Center
for Education Statistics