Places to Practice Presentations

Is there anywhere on campus – either in the library, or elsewhere -that could function as a space to privately practice presentations? Most places are only available to groups, which means it’s hard if you need some privacy to rehearse an individual presentation. I have tried using the library group rooms when they are unoccupied, but the walls are very thin; the people outside the room could hear me, and I could hear them! Do you have any recommendations? I am a commuter so I unfortunately can’t practice in a dorm.

One of the reasons Temple University is planning for a new library building is to equip students with the type of learning spaces that best meet their needs. As you discovered, the study rooms in Paley Library were never intended to be presentation practice spaces.

While you could practice a presentation in our study rooms, as you point out, they hardly offer the soundproofing this type of room needs – nor are the rooms equipped with the right type of technology. What if you  wanted to record yourself making the presentation for later analysis?

The good news is that you can find presentation practice rooms in the TECH Center. There are breakout rooms specialized for presentation practice. It is true that the rooms are usually available to groups but you can go to the consultant’s desk in the TECH Center to inquire about personal use of the room. If the consultant is able to make the room available it can be used for one hour.

Good luck with your presentation.


Robotic Retrieval and Library Browsing

I’m confused about how the whole robot retrieval system will work at the new library. Will patrons be unable to stroll the shelves and browse through books?

When the new Temple University Library opens in 2018 it will contain print books. Lots of books. The number of books will be about equivalent to what is currently contained in the Paley Library. The majority of the books will be stored in a robotic retrieval system. The quick answer to your question is yes. There will be books on shelves. Patrons will be able to stroll and browse in what will be a smaller physical collection of books than now found in Paley Library.

The new library will have a robotic storage and retrieval system that is referred to as an Automated and Storage Retrieval System (ASRS). Some of your confusion can be eliminated by familiarizing yourself with the ASRS, which you can do by watching this video or possibly this one. Either one will give you a better sense of what the ASRS does. It is almost becoming the norm for any new academic library building to take advantage of ASRS technology. This is because an ASRS allows for high-density storage so that the per volume cost of storing a book is as much as one-fourth of the cost of stack storage. Even the new library and learning commons being built at the much smaller Marywood University includes an ASRS.

Why are 21st-century library buildings incorporating the ASRS? It is a matter of efficient space utilization – and thinking ahead about how people will use research libraries 20, 30, 50 years and beyond into the future. Instead of having 29 miles of shelving and two entire floors devoted to book stacks as the current Paley Library does, the new Temple University Library will feature only one floor dedicated to open book stacks. That means a far greater amount of floor space may be devoted to to an environment where students, faculty and librarians can engage with each other for learning and research.

The new building will feature great resources such as the new Center for Learning and Student Success, a faculty suite for digital research and visualization lab, over 40 hi-tech study rooms for students, four instruction rooms, student-librarian consultation rooms, an innovation center, a dedicated reading/quiet room, a one-stop service zone, much improved spaces for events, a 24/7 cafe, an expanded Special Collections and Research Center and much improved display space. The only way to achieve all these enhancements is to shift floor space currently dedicated to book stacks to new people space.

While the number of books on stacks will be less than what Paley now offers, some 200,000 titles will still be available in open stacks for browsing. We are currently performing a collection analysis to identify the sections of our collection that are most sought after for browsing, such as the arts, architecture, music, literature and others. Disciplines such as business and technology, where books are less sought after, are primary candidates for the ASRS.

At Temple University Libraries we understand the value of book browsing for the exploration and discovery of new knowledge. As much as possible we will seek to continue the tradition of serendipitous discovery in our collections. Over the next two years we will also be exploring new technology, already being tested at other libraries, that offer a much improved library catalog search experience that brings the feel and power of book browsing to the computer screen. Our technology team will be working to develop an integrated shelf browsing app that will bring together all our holdings in single virtual shelf environment. As the new library project evolves we will be sharing more information about the building with the Temple University community. Look for more to come in 2016.

What Good Is An E-Book Only One Person Can Read?

What is the point of an e-book if only one user at a time can view it? I was thrilled to discover that a text for one of my classes was available as an e-book on Paley’s website, but it looked like another student had beat me to it. When I attempted to view the first chapter, I was notified that multiple users cannot access the e-book simultaneously. If websites can handle multiple visitors, than why not e-books? We are talking about two simultaneous readers – not 2,000. E-books are supposed to provide the flexibility that physical texts cannot provide. Is there any way that Paley’s e-book collection could permit multiple readers?

You do indeed raise a good question. If another student beat you to the physical version of the single copy of a  textbook in our collection there isn’t much you could do. You could put a hold (to be the next borrower) on it but that wouldn’t help you get it right away – which is what you want. Because pretty much everything on the Internet can be accessed immediately and by unlimited numbers of users (e.g., the latest cat videos on youtube). So it’s totally reasonable to expect that a library e-book would also be available, simultaneously, to more than one reader. The only problem is that commercially published e-books don’t always work that way. I asked our Head of Collections to provide some context for the problem you encountered:

While many of our e-book collections do allow for unlimited simultaneous users (see for further info) other publishers think it necessary to limit the number of similtaneous users in order to protect their revenue from the sale of books.  This is particularly true in cases such as yours, where a book is serving as a text for a class.  From the publisher’s perspective, they stand to lose money if a library is able to purchase a single ebook which is then used by multiple students in lieu of the students each purchasing their own print or ebook copy.  In some cases, a publisher will allow multiple users for an ebook, but only if the library pays a very high price premium – something that we are unable to afford.  We agree that it certainly is counter-intuitive to have these sorts of artificial usage constraints on ebooks and would prefer to only offer unrestricted use ebooks, but, unfortunately the current library ebook market does not allow for this.

I hope this explanation is helpful to you. If you go to the ebook guide mentioned above you will see that quite a few of our ebook collections have no restrictions on simultaneous usage. We can only hope that eventually all the ebook publishers will catch on to the value of eliminating usage restrictions. As you say, even allowing 2 or 3 simultaneous users would help. We agree.


Why Is It Called “Ask Here”?

You should replace the “Ask Here” banners with something like “Catalog Computers”.

Also, you should add an arm to the mounting bracket that those computers are on, to provide a flat or tiltable surface for the papers or electronic devices whose screen the user is typing from. If one hand has to hold the information source, all we can do is hunt-and-peck one-handed, which takes a lot more time.

Thanks for contacting us about changing the banner. Those banners actually say exactly what we mean. Let’s clear up one thing. Yes, there are computers right below the banners that you can use to search the library catalog. Those computers are there primarily for quick lookups – no chairs as you noticed.

The banners really have nothing to do with those computers. “Ask Here” is our way of letting students know that they’ve arrived at the right location to ask a library staff member a question. That’s what that big round desk is for. The people sitting there can help you find what you need, help you with research, recommend research resources and much more. Our librarians are subject specialists who have expertise in many of the subjects taught at Temple University.

So the next time you have a question – go ask it there.

We have explored the possibility of adding some sort of platform where students can put their books or device while they type on the keyboard of those lookup computers. We’ve not been able to find a good solution that will fit that particular space. But it’s been a while since we last looked and perhaps we need to try again.

Thanks for your suggestion.

Steven Bell
Associate University Librarian


How Come I Can’t Find a Fax Machine at Temple U?

I once made an inquiry about faxing options on campus, and I was told that there are no fax machines in the library. (Please correct me if this is untrue). Consequently, my only option was to scan in my document to a computer and use free fax websites online such as The issue with such sites is that they typically have a page limit, and longer faxes require a monthly membership fee which can really add up for students on a limited budget. I would like to suggest that Paley Library invests in a fax machine. Even though it is 2015 and faxes are widely perceived as archaic, I still find myself needing to send faxes on a fairly regular basis. Please consider acquiring a fax machine for student use, In the meantime, if you know of any places on campus that allow students to send faxes, please publicize them! Thank you for looking into this.

Whoever told you that there are no fax machines in the library is totally correct. We eliminated our public fax machine several years ago owing to a sharp decline in the demand for fax service, and as a cost savings measure. We had to pay for the phone line connected to the fax machine whether we were faxing or not.

However, there is a place you can go to send and receive faxes on campus. It’s a service provided by the UPS Store in the Student Activity Center. Faxing is identified as an available service on the SAC webpage’s list of service partners. That’s another reason we eliminated our fax service in the library. We knew that students who needed to fax could still go to the UPS store for that service.

You may want to go back to that person who told you there is no fax service on campus and let him or her know they need to get their “facts” straight (pun intended).


How About Adding Video Games We Can Borrow?

Does the Temple Media Service have video games rentals? This would be an interesting addition to the media services.

Thanks for your suggestion about adding video games to Media Services – and by the way…Temple Libraries always allows students to freely borrow its materials like books and DVDs. Rental is not our thing.

You may be pleased to know that our Media Services unit already does lend video games and game playing equipment. We currently have a Wii, Wii U, and PS3 available for four-hour in-house checkout and use in the Gaming Den, as well as a small collection of video games available for use with these systems. The Gaming Den is located on the third floor of Paley Library at room 308. Our library catalog lists the games we offer through Media Services for in-library use in the Gaming Den.

As you review the games we offer, do keep in mind that the library’s primary mission is academic support and our collection has been built from titles requested by faculty who use games in their courses, as well as from suggestions from the campus Gaming Guild. For this reason, we treat the collection more like a reserve collection, as students and faculty need access to complete their assignments and hold guild meetings.

If you are interested in using our games and equipment, use the reservation form we provide to reserve the Gaming Den. The key to the Den, plus the consoles and games, can be retrieved at the Media Services Desk.




Desk Staff Need To Be Attentive

I find it frustrating when I approach one of the Library’s service desks and the student workers are looking at a device, reading a book or otherwise not paying attention. Then I feel like I have to interrupt that person in order to get their assistance. How about reminding the students that they need to have their heads up so they are more approachable and are ready to assist us library users.

Thank you for sharing your observations with us. Our objective is to give Temple University community members the highest quality service, and if any members of our staff are not meeting that expectation than we need to fix that problem. Students who work at public service desks do receive customer service training so they are aware of the importance of being approachable and ready to assist. At our Circulation/Reserve Desk the students are not allowed to use any personal electronic devices when they are working at the desk so they are not distracted by these devices.

Your concerns will be shared with all the library staff who supervise the students who work at the service desks so that we can work to improve the quality of the service. However, if you feel, at any time, that you are not getting the quality service you expect, \you and all Temple community members are welcome to speak to the unit supervisor. You can ask to speak with that person at any desk or you have access to our complete staff directory if you prefer to contact the unit head by phone or email.

Limitations of Library Catalog’s Text Message Feature

Hello!  One feature of the online Diamond catalogue I love is the ability to send a library record to my phone via a text message. This is very convenient and I do it constantly. However: if the title or other information is too long, the text message that comes through does not include the call number, probably because it gets cut off — and that is the most important part of the message! Is there a way to ensure that the call number is always transmitted in those texts, even for books with a very long title?

UPDATE: As of 2/16/15 we have modified the structure of the catalog text messages so that the call number always appears at the top of the message. That way, if the bibliographic information exceeds the SMS message character limitation, the call number will always be transmitted in the text message. Thanks for your suggestion!

Thank you for using Temple Libraries. We are glad to hear that you appreciate the text messaging feature in the Diamond Catalog. It’s a convenient way to keep track of the information you need to locate the book once you get to the library stacks.

Unfortunately there are going to be records with significantly long titles or many authors and when that is the case you may not receive all the necessary information (such as the call number) owing to the character limitation of a text message – which happens to be 160 characters. When this happens some of the information you need will be left out of the message.

We currently do not have an immediate solution, but out library technology team is looking into the problem to determine if they can come up with one. If they do it will be reported here.

Please keep in mind an alternate, albeit not quite as convenient, option. You can also save a catalog record to your “My Library Account” – everyone at Temple has one in our catalog system. You can access your account by clicking on “Renew My Books” in the upper right corner of the library homepage.

When you find a record in your catalog search you can elect to save it to a “list”. You can have multiple lists with any number of books in the folder. The list feature works quite well with our mobile site, so any book you save to a list can be retrieved on your phone. This will allow you to have a more permanent record of your books that is also retrievable on your phone. Admittedly, it takes a few more steps than the text message feature. It may be an option you wish to explore.

Concerns About Accessibility at Paley Library

As an ally for individuals with physical disabilities, I am deeply troubled by the lack of access at Paley Library. On a surface level Paley appears to be accessible–yes, there are elevators, yes, the library entrance has an electronic button for individuals with physical conditions. We mustn’t forget, however, the multitude of heavy doors within Paley. Using the ladies’ room requires pushing two heavy wooden doors in succession–a challenge for anyone, let alone a person with limited arm strength. The vestibule between the doors is scarcely wide enough to accommodate individuals with a loaded backpack, let alone someone in a wheelchair or with a walker. While it is understandable that renovating these bathrooms is a significant undertaking, there is no excuse for a world-premier university to have a library devoid of accessible bathrooms.

The fact that there are wheelchair-accessible stalls within the bathroom is irrelevant if people with physical disabilities cannot enter the restroom in the first place. Equally problematic are the East and West wings of the second and third floors; both are closed off by heavy doors which do not have an option for automatic opening. Please correct these issues to ensure that Paley Library is accessible for every member of our university community.

Thank you for sharing your concerns about accessibility problems you confronted in Paley Library. Part of the difficulty in maintaining a building of Paley’s age is keeping it compliant with accessibility standards, and we are clearly challenged to make our facility as accessible as possible – though as you point out the bathrooms are a place where we must do better.

Given the problem you encountered it appears we should be checking the pull weight on the doors in the bathrooms and the stack areas. We will contact Temple University Facilities to have them make sure these doors meet the prevailing legal standard for accessibility. If the doors are set to the correct standard pull they should be easier to open. We will make sure that is the case.

Please know that only entry doors need be equipped with automatic opening devices. Interior doors do need to be set for a certain maximum pull/push weight that meets the correct standards. We will definitely have this checked.

If you continue to encounter difficulty with the interior doors, please report it directly to personnel in the Library Administrative Office on the mezzanine level of Paley Library.


Sorry But Paley Library’s Roof Is Off Limits

How about building a geo/biodome on the roof of Paley Library. It would make a great study space – like an artificial jungle. While you’re at it, can you give students free coffee on Monday mornings?

Thanks for your creative suggestion for an improvement to Paley Library that would no doubt put our library on the map. How many university libraries have a biodome on the top of the building? Unfortunately, as much as we might like that study space, Temple University Facilities department might look less favorably on this type of project. This is not the first time we’ve received a suggestion or request involving students doing something on the roof of Paley, and the Facilities folks are pretty strict about access to the roof – as in they don’t allow it. For now we will do our best to make sure the roof is sealed tight. We don’t want any rain leaking in that might damage our books.

While we’d love to hand out free coffee to students as a great way to start the week, we need to be responsible stewards of the funds that we receive from the University. That means purchasing all the important resources that make Temple Libraries a great research collection. But we also understand the importance of freebies. Don’t worry. It’s coming. For the last several years, during finals, students are invited to come to Paley Library for late-night coffee and cookies. We’ll be offering it again this year during finals week. It’s just one of the ways Temple Libraries supports the Temple student community.