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 FaxZero.com. 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.

Book Wasn’t In the Catalog But It Was On the Shelf. What Happened?

I was searching for a book from home using the Libraries’ online catalog system – I connected to it through the Libraries website. According the information I got from my search of the catalog, the book I wanted was not available – there was no record for it. But the next day I was at the library looking for another book and low and behold, the book I was searching for – the one the catalog didn’t list at all – was the first book that I saw sitting on the shelf. How is it possible that the book wasn’t in the catalog yet was there on the shelf. Something’s wrong. Can you explain this?
The next issue, with the same book, is the call number. I believe the number is incorrect. It is numbered as a book for Computer Aided Design (CAD) programs when it is actually the information gathering portion of designing a building also called programming. I think you should correct the call number.

We are grateful that you brought your problems with this book to us, and doubly grateful because finding it required some extra work on your part.  The book did not, as you say, display in Diamond (our online catalog), because at some point in the process of being checked in, or checked out,  or moved from one location to another, or even because it went missing for a while, the record for the book was removed from public view.  We are pleased to have been able to restore the information about the book to you and others who might need it.

As for the shelf number of the book: here at Temple we use Library of Congress classification, which divides subjects and genres more or less arbitrarily into an A-Z range.  The NA range is for architecture and contains a large number of topical and geographic subdivisions.  Which subdivision a book is placed in is based largely on a correspondence with the Library of Congress Subject Heading that is chosen by the cataloger.  In this case the cataloger was actually at the Library of Congress, and chose the topic—and sub-topic  “Architectural design–Data processing,” apparently on the basis of the title word “programming.”  As you mention, this involves a misunderstanding of what “programming” means to architects and other design professionals, and so the book wound up in the wrong classification. It’s worthwhile to help people looking for books on your topic by reclassifying the book.

That said, cataloging is a highly cooperative enterprise involving the work of professionals all over the U.S. The Library of Congress itself is considered the “gold standard” for cataloging.  For this reason, Library of Congress cataloging is merely given a low-level quality control check here at Temple, along with a  little physical processing.  We kept the original classification, as did the other 250 or so libraries that I can find that have the book.  In our field there is something of an understanding that all libraries that hold a book keep the original classification unless there’s some very good reason to make a change.  So when you’re through with the book, we’re going to take another look at it, just to be on the safe side.  In the end we will most likely follow your advice.


Make it Easier to Find My Subject Specialist

It’s great to know we have librarians who serve as subject specialists for the different disciplines. Many students and faculty could take advantage of their research expertise. However, it is not easy to find out who these librarians are. Can you make a link to the subject specialists more prominent on your website – even putting it on the home page?

Glad to hear you plan to take advantage of our subject specialists. They are a great resource for the Temple Community. Right now the fastest way to get to the list is to click on the ASK-A-LIBRARIAN link on the home page. It’s on the next page. You can also bookmark the subject specialist page:


Thanks for your suggestion. We will give it some thought and see we might do a better job of publicizing the specialists. You may know we do highlight the specialists on the home page by rotating their photos. If you have other ideas, share it in a comment.