Campus libraries use tech to streamline student searches, staff work

Nine of 10 students who own a smart phone use the device to access the internet, according to the Ball State survey, conducted by journalism professor Michael Hanley, director of the university’s Institute for Mobile Media Research.

The use of smart phones on college campuses doubled between 2009 and 2010, according to the institute’s research.

The campus library application also could be useful in tracking book circulation data, budgets numbers, and a host of other information that would be most convenient in one location instead of a dozen databases that take hours to sift through.

“The bottom line is that the libraries recognize the need to understand who is using their resources, and where they should focus their budget,” said Brett Jackson, CEO of LogiXML.

Book collecting and inventory – the efficient way

Linda Moore, director of career services at Eastern Illinois University (EIU) in Charleston, Ill., said the campus library used to hire extra help to check in more than 80,000 volumes of books each semester, and two employees would take about two and a half days to record inventory of every textbook in the library.

“It was a lot of labor,” Moore said. “It always looked like a little ant farm.”

Taking EIU’s inventory now takes a couple hours, she said, thanks to a system called Ultrasort, made by Minnesota-based TechLogic. And students no longer have to stand in line for 45 minutes during peak textbook return hours. They’re in and out in 15 minutes.

The university is one of only a few in the country that has its own textbook rental service, although many campuses use third-party book rental companies, and popular websites like Chegg and BookRenter save students hundreds each semester.

The Ultrasort system automatically checks in students’ books when they drop them into one of nine collection bins that can only be accessed with a student ID.

Inventory is made easier because Ultrasort comes with electronic checkout pads that scan the radio-frequency identification (RFID) of each textbook. This means many books can be checked in and out of the EIU library at once, rather than library staff members entering the textbook information one at a time.

Moore didn’t disclose how much the university spent on the Ultrasort system, but she said EIU’s savings would be “in the five figures” with the new technology. The university is the first in the country to use the Ultrasort system, according to TechLogic.

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