Richter Library adds new services, upgrades over summer

In an effort to make the library-going experience more user friendly, the Otto G. Richter Library has made several changes to its services for the new school year.

The library’s Web site was completely overhauled over the summer and given a simpler, sleeker look. It now includes a suggestion box that allows users to send comments or input to the deputy university librarian, Yolanda Cooper.

The comments are screened and used to help provide library patrons with the services and resources they need. Previously, students could only submit suggestions in a box at the library, which still remains available.

Cooper responds to a student’s suggestion directly if they provide an e-mail address, and some comments are publicly addressed on the library’s website if they may be of interest to other students, she said.

“I believe we are here to support and serve the UM community and if it’s within reason and it’s within our budget, we’ll do our best to address the suggestions received,” Cooper said. “I’m very pleased that they’re coming in.”

The IBISWEB catalog received a makeover as well. The new website allows users to search topics by keyword, and the results are automatically grouped and ranked by relevancy and year of publication. Users are also able to quickly switch back and forth from IBISWEB to other sections of the library’s website by clicking on a banner at the top of the screen.

“Our goal is to save students time because we know it’s pretty precious,” said Jane Schillie, director of marketing and external relations.

Library-goers may also sign up for a MyLibrary account this year, which allows them to view items currently on loan, pending hold requests and outstanding fines. The initial MyLibrary account screen is tailored to fit the immediate needs of each user by displaying issues which need attention, such as an outstanding fine or bill. MyLibrary also displays the number of renewals left on items currently on loan.

The library is also offering a series of workshops intended to teach students how to maneuver through the library and its services.

Jessica Rouan, a junior, thinks the new workshop will be especially helpful to freshmen. “If [freshmen] learn early on, it will help them later,” she said.

The RefWorks workshop introduces students to RefWorks, a bibliographical management tool which helps users automatically format references in a number of citation styles. Students may reserve a spot in a workshop at the library’s information and research assistance desks or via email request.

The library’s Survival Skills workshop takes students on a tour of the Richter Library and teaches the basics of the IBISWEB catalog and the library website. One of the goals of the program is to teach students which online database to use when looking up information.

Though the library subscribes to over 300 databases, many students do not know about them or have trouble finding information, Schillie said. The first UM Survival Skills workshop is Sept. 28 at 2:00 p.m.

“The library can be big and confusing,” said Ayelet Firstenberg, a sophomore who said she’d consider attending a workshop.

The information commons on the first floor of the library is now home to a new digital services alcove featuring four new Apple Macintosh computers and four Dell Optiplex computers for video and audio editing, image creation and web design. The computers are available by reservation during all library hours.

The media lab was formerly located on the third floor, but Bryanna Herzog, the digital media lab manager, hopes the first floor location will introduce more people to the library’s digital services.

“Once students find out about the digital media lab, they’re always in it creating things for class and campus organizations,” she said.

Herzog will lead sessions on how to use the Macs and create digital media.

“We really tried to be responsive to what students want,” Schillie said, noting that the library changes are still “a work in progress.”

Stacey Weitz may be contacted at