Library and information services for Morehouse College are provided by The Robert W. Woodruff Library (RWWL) of the Atlanta University Center. The Robert W. Woodruff Library also provides library and information services to Clark Atlanta University (CAU), Spelman College (SC) and the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC). In January 2004, the Robert W. Woodruff Library was incorporated as a separate not-for-profit organization. The formal agreements providing evidence of this reorganization include the Library Support Agreement, the Bylaws, Articles of Incorporation, Articles of Restatement and Library Board Policies and Procedures.
The Library is governed by a Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees include the presidents of each member institution (Morehouse College, Spelman College, Interdenominational Theological Center, and Clark Atlanta University), up to three at- large members, including a member with national library experience and a member with significant financial expertise who serves as chair of the Library Board Finance and Audit Committee. Ex-officio members include the chief executive officer/library director, the chair of the Council of Chief Academic Officers, and chair of the Library Advisory Council. The chair of the Board is elected by the Member Trustees and thus always is one of the institutional presidents. Currently, the president of Spelman serves as chair of the Board. The Board meets quarterly. The list of Board members is provided.
The Library Advisory Council, comprised of two faculty members from each of the four member institutions, meets monthly during the academic year with the chief executive officer/library director. The meeting agenda is set by mutual consent of the Council chair and the CEO/library director. A copy of the Council’s bylaws is included.
A Student Advisory Committee, comprised of undergraduate and graduate student representatives from each institution, meets three times a year. Meetings are chaired by a student and facilitated by the CEO/library director. The committee exists to advise the CEO/library director on library services.
The Library’s budget, developed in consultation with the member institutions, recommended by the Board Finance Committee and approved by the full Board, is sufficient to support the collections and resources required. The Board reviews a three-year budget, thus giving the members a glance into projected expenses for the forward years. The most recent three-year budget reviewed by the Library Board is for the years 2007-08, 2008-09, and 2009-10. The FY2007-08 budget was approved in December 2006.
The Library is funded by the member institutions, each of which is assessed a percent of the Library budget based on a formula that takes into account FTE faculty and FTE student counts. Other sources of revenue include income from the Library’s $7 million endowment, as well as income from fees, fines and grants. The major grants received by the Library since 2003 include $175,000 in planning grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; $100,000 from CLIR (Council on Library and Information Resources) to fund a service redesign project; $900,000 over three years from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation to assist with Library operations and $2.5 million from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation to develop a safe and attractive streetscape for student access on Brawley Street in front of and across the street from the front entrance of the Library building.
The Library’s print collections include more than 382,000 print volumes, more than 1,500 serial subscriptions, and more than 35,000 bound periodical volumes. Robert W. Woodruff Library is a selective government depository acquiring materials at a rate of 28% of all government publications. The Library has an extensive reference collection and an Archives and Special Collections Department rich in primary materials documenting the African American experience. The rapidly growing electronic resources of the Library are accessible via the Library Web site. Remote access to virtual resources for students and faculty is provided through the EZproxy Server, administered by the Library’s Information Technology department. The Library is a member of the statewide consortium, GALILEO, Georgia Virtual Library. To date, 150 databases are available through GALILEO. Another 76 electronic resources are purchased directly by the library to complement those available as a result of Library participation in GALILEO. The Library also subscribes to full text electronic journals through its serials vendor, EBSCO, and the A to Z serials management software.
Library collections are selected by the Library subject specialists. Each librarian is assigned the responsibility of working with academic departments and programs to develop collections in support of curricula and deliver library orientation and instruction. The collection development policy was recently revised under the leadership of a Collection Development Task Force. The new policy takes into consideration the changing environment in libraries with respect to print, non-print and electronic resources. The Library’s acquisition budget is $1.574 million for FY 2006/07, and the three year Library budget plan includes increases of 8.5% for acquisitions in each fiscal year.
The Library also provides access to resources available from within the region though not in the RWWL collections. The Library is a member of the Atlanta Regional Consortium for Higher Education (ARCHE). ARCHE is comprised of 21 public and private institutions of higher learning, corporate and nonprofit and regional affiliated libraries. Through membership in ARCHE, Morehouse College students and faculty have reciprocal access, authorized through an interlibrary use policy to member library collections and document delivery. Additional benefits of membership in ARCHE are extended to students and faculty. The Robert W. Woodruff Library has an active interlibrary loan (ILL) program. It employs OCLC’s ILLIAD resource sharing management software for the automation of interlibrary loan functions. This software affords Morehouse College users the opportunity to self-initiate and monitor ILL activity. The Library also offers the ARIEL program for electronic document delivery. At least 80-90% of article requests are transmitted through ARIEL.
Since 2003, the Library has been actively engaged in a strategic planning activity and a service improvement process directed at fulfilling the vision of being the “First Choice” for information for students, faculty and staff. The vision is articulated in the Library’s 2006-2009 strategic plan and in the service strategy which was named “Project First Choice.” These plans serve as the map for development, delivery and evaluation of library services and operations.
Over the last three years, RWWL has implemented three formal assessments. In FY2004/05 the Library engaged the Caleris Consulting Group to administer an online survey to assess student and faculty satisfaction with services and operations. This instrument provided a baseline for user satisfaction and indicators for areas of improvement. An online survey was administered in spring 2005. Although the response rate was too low to be statistically significant, it does provide the library the opportunity to gain insight on perceptions of library resources, services, and personnel. An analysis of the data representing the Morehouse College responses of faculty and students is provided below.
Ninety-nine faculty members responded to the questionnaire representing approximately 15% of the more than 650 faculty members at CAU, ITC, Morehouse, and Spelman. Many of these faculty members taught in the areas of English (13.8%), psychology (9.6%), religion/theology (7.4%), biology (7.4%), and education (6.4%). The Morehouse faculty made up 25% of the faculty respondents.
Of the faculty respondents to the survey, 41% perceived that library collections supported their needs. Of the Morehouse faculty that responded, 34.1% perceived that library resources met or exceeded their needs. An overwhelming 95.8% of the Morehouse faculty would recommend the Library to a student. 62.5% of the Morehouse faculty respondents indicated that they would refer a colleague to the Library. It was interesting to note, that while the faculty would recommend RWWL to colleagues and students, 75% indicated they would choose somewhere other than the Library as their first place to go for their research needs. In addition, 70.8% of the Morehouse faculty perceived resources to be the biggest barrier to coming to the Library. These findings indicate that there is additional work needed in the development of the library liaison/faculty relationship as it relates to knowledge of library resources.
Morehouse faculty perceptions of library personnel and services were very positive. Of those responding to questions regarding personnel and services, 95% - 100% were satisfied with the assistance provided by their subject liaison and orientation and instruction, and they perceived the staff able to assist with their reference needs.
There were 152 students from the member institutions who responded to the Caleris survey; 42% were from Morehouse College (MC). Of the MC student respondents, 96.8% had visited the library since the beginning of the academic year. Conflicting responses were received as it relates to library resources. When asked if there were relevant resources available, 73% indicated that the resources met or exceeded their needs, while 42.9% indicated that the resources were a barrier to coming to Woodruff. In addition, only 44.3% indicated that RWWL would be the first place to go to complete course requirements; but 67.2% would recommend the Library to a friend or classmate. Morehouse student perceptions of library personnel were very positive. Satisfaction with library personnel’s knowledge, helpfulness, courtesy, and timeliness ranged from 84%-87%.
Respondents were asked to define their primary reason for visiting the Library. The primary reason for the students’ visits varied. The most selected reasons for visiting the library included visiting the library for a quiet place to study (38%); checkout materials (16.4%); and visiting the reference desk (13.1%). When asked about barriers to coming to the library, respondents most frequently selected the following: hours of operation (55.6%); resources (42.9%); and parking (25.4%).
Subsequent to the survey, a student advisory committee was established in the Fall 2005 term. There are two graduate members on the committee. This committee was charged with assisting the Library in re-surveying the student body in the Spring 2006. In addition, discussion elicited from the student advisory committee members indicated that overall students were please with most library services and resources. They also supported the perceptions that the Library is a noisy environment and it is sometimes difficult to find resources within the collection.
The Robert W. Woodruff Library is committed to formally assessing its effectiveness. In February 2006, the library established a permanent full-time position dedicated to planning and assessment of library services. The person in this position oversees coordination of all assessment activities. Assessments occur periodically, with the use of onsite exit and/or entry surveys and Web-based surveys. Students or faculty members provide feedback following orientation/instruction or other exchanges with library staff and on an ongoing basis, through the use of physical and virtual “comment boxes.” In addition, the Library placed into action a model for assessment, the internationally known LibQUAL survey instrument, that will be used to gather feedback from library users and inform the library about its overall strategy for the improvement of operations.
In Fall 2006, the Library implemented SurveyMonkey software to assist in assessment of its information literacy pilot program. The survey software is flexible and easily adaptable and will be used frequently for program and service level assessment. The data collected during the assessment of the information literacy pilot program provided an indication of program modifications needed for the Fall 2007 program. The results of the pilot served to improve library relationships with teaching faculty and assisted in identifying target concepts for future foci in library instruction. The library CEO/director is also a member of the Morehouse College Information Literacy Committee. The results of assessment are topics of discussion at meetings of the Information & Resource Services Department, attended by librarians, and at weekly meetings of library management.
Between April and May 2007 the library engaged in the internationally known LibQUAL survey produced by the Association of Research Libraries. The LibQUAL survey was administered both as an online and as a print survey to garner greatest participation. In this survey period, users were asked to respond to 22 core questions about library service, three general satisfaction questions, and five questions related to information literacy outcomes. Preliminary information on Morehouse college participation is available. There were a total of 2,469 surveys completed, representing a 24% participation rate for the AUC community as a whole. Of that number, 13% or 324 responses were received from Morehouse College; the majority of those responses were from Morehouse students. Fewer than four faculty members responded to the survey.
The LibQUAL survey better enables the Library to track, understand and respond to users’ perceptions of library services. It also facilitates benchmarking of performance against peer institutions. The Library will conduct the LibQUAL survey on a biennial basis.