Wil Weston began his role as Head of Collections Management at San Diego State University’s Malcolm A. Love Library in 2008 and quickly learned that the library collections had never been weeded. Most problematic was the unwieldy bound journal and periodicals collection, which was so large, parts of it were located on two separate floors.
“That had to be exciting for researchers,” Weston quipped, “if they had to ride the elevator, or worse, climb the stairs, up and down over and over between the first and fifth floors.”
The overgrown collection also limited the kind of student experience and services the library could offer. As Weston and his colleagues enacted a plan to remedy these challenges, disaster struck the library’s microfilm collection, leaving much of it irreparably damaged. Then, less than two years later, the university had to close campus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a recent webinar, Weston described this series of events and how ProQuest’s Title Matching program ensured library users could access content they needed – and helped open nearly 2,000 linear feet of space to expand in-demand seating and extended services.
The Love Library’s overgrown collection created a significant space issue in the building. According to Weston, the library is a unique space for learning and socializing, critical for a positive and successful student experience. However, students often had to sit on the floor because there just wasn’t seating to accommodate the all of users who congregated there.
Weston also noted that students’ needs are evolving. Not only is the library committed to expanding content and services for its institution’s diverse communities, but also to accommodate the diverse interests of students and researchers.
Additionally, Weston pointed that most of the graduate students at San Diego State University are “non-traditional students.” This means they require flexible access to materials like news, scholarly journals and primary sources around their other commitments, like family and full-time jobs.
This is particularly an issue for students in the master’s and doctoral programs in the education department, Weston explained, most of whom hold demanding positions as teachers or school principals, which make it difficult for them to spend time on campus.
Weston and his colleagues created a 10-year plan that included reducing the physical footprint of bound materials and shrinking the periodical collection to just one area of the building, with the goal of developing a more welcoming physical and digital space for all students.
By 2014, Weston and his colleagues worked with various vendors and publishers to shrink the library’s journal and periodicals collection to the fifth floor, opening room to expand other collections, services and study areas. Special collections found a home on the library’s first floor. This included the new science fiction reading room; a designated reading area for comics; and an expanded Chicano/Chicana reading room which will be adjacent to a forthcoming Latinx Student Center.
Then, in 2018, an urgent new challenge arose for Weston and his colleagues. When a steam pipe burst where the microfilm collection was housed, library staff wasn’t immediately informed of the problem. While the floors were cleaned and ceiling tiles were replaced, the microfilm collection was left moldering for weeks. As a result of extensive damage, there were gaps in the microfilm collection and five entire runs were completely ruined.
That’s when Weston was introduced to ProQuest’s title matching program. The program made it easy and affordable to provide digital versions of the materials that sustained water damage. This not only ensured continued access to lost content but expanded the library’s digital collection for more flexible availability (and more successful scholarship).
In March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic shut down campus and all classes quickly transitioned to online only. This meant library users couldn’t access essential materials that had been only available in physical form. But based on previous experience, Weston and his colleagues knew what to do.
They called on their ProQuest customer service representative Dawn Devine to extend their title matching service to include periodicals and ebooks.
In addition to the urgent need for digitally accessible content during the shutdown, Weston was eager for a solution that could also address the on-going space issues in the library. Fortunately, this ability is a critical feature of the title matching program.
“Wonderfully, ProQuest ran a report for us,” Weston said. This report looked at the library’s goals regarding fiscal concerns, linear feet that could be repurposed and the kinds of content that would maintain or gain usage by being available online.
The library’s title-matching report determined that 98 highly used titles would be made available digitally with ProQuest’s Periodical Archive Online Foundation Collection 1. This resulted in a savings of 1,530 feet of shelf space. And with ProQuest’s News, Policy and Politics Magazine Archive featuring Newsweek, seven titles were made digitally available for a savings of 276 ft of shelf space.
“Working with ProQuest a pleasure, and [this program] has been remarkably successful,” Weston said.
“And when we get back into the building, we’ll be taking a look at adjusting our shelves to make use of nearly 2,000 feet of space!”
Title matching for books and periodicals is just part of a series of programs to support flexible teaching and learning on campus and online. Developed based on market feedback, input from library and higher ed organizations and discussions with customers around the world, ProQuest’s E Now programs include: