Undergraduate experience of university libraries

Library shelves, University of ManchesterA post by Brian Mathews (a librarian at the Georgia Institute of Technology) on his Ubiquitous Librarian blog compares undergraduate levels of library usage and satisfaction in UK and US universities. He looked at information from SCONUL and compared it with statistics from the US Association of Research Libraries (ARL). He notes that usage of libraries by undergraduates is much higher in the UK:

…86% indicate daily or weekly use, while the US is around 50%. When asked about using library web resources they were at 77% daily/weekly, while US was between 40-50%.

but that levels of satisfaction with space and resources are much lower and that our printed materials and journals are ‘barely adequate’. He expresses surprise at this, but it sounds like an issue of under-resourcing to me and probably won’t surprise staff working in UK universities. The difference in usage levels are interesting though – why are they so much higher here?

Irish blues

The library of Trinity College Dublin was featured in Material World this week on BBC Radio 4. The programme discussed the use of Laser Raman spectroscopy, which is a non-destructive way of analysing the contents of the pigments in the illustrations of the 9th-century Book of Kells. It had originally been thought that the blues in the paintings were made from lapis lazuli, causing elaborate theories of very early trade links between Ireland and Afghanistan to be developed. The new technique showed that the blue was in fact created from woad, which is slightly less exotic and exciting, but much more easily explained. Keeper of manuscripts Bernard Meehan and keeper of conservation Susie Bioletti both featured in the programme, which is available online until next Thursday.

And we thought indexing for the Hub was hard…

An accidental posting by Ellen Chapman (of the Archives & Manuscripts Department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa) to the US Archives and Archivists mailing list brightened my morning today. It was a link to an article by Philip O’Leary in the most recent edition of the Annals of Improbable Research about the complexities of indexing Celtic languages. The article is available in PDF format, and is definitely worth reading if you’ve been struggling with creating index terms in English.

Philip Pullman on libraries

There was a good promotional article on libraries and librarians in The Times on Saturday. Though I don’t think Philip realises quite how much librarians are involved in bringing information online and improving the quality of online information (not to mention providing online access within libraries).