By Martin J. Kidston
Pitting a shrinking budget against the rising costs of operation has forced the Vande Bogart Library at MSU-Northern to wear a different mask the mask of transition.
Relying more on computer information, web-browsers and electronic databases has allowed the academic library to fight decreasing funds by sharing the cost of operation with other schools.
The idea: Four sources of information are better than one. The working equivalent sees Montanas state universities sharing their costs, and expanding their resources by doing so.
Academic libraries in general are flat in university budgets, said Library Director Dr. Will Rawn. Costs are going up sharply. To detain those rising costs, we are building cooperative arrangements with other schools.
Rawn said such arrangements allow students and faculty to gain access to a wider range of media. If the Northern campus doesnt have a certain book, per say, the student can access the Bozeman campus through an electronic index. If Bozeman has the book, it will be mailed to Northern. Periodicals can be shared, and if the periodical is an articles from a magazine, essay or paper, it can be sent instantly on a compressed file.
Information flows freely in cyberspace, but learning to use it takes more know-how than thumbing through ancient card catalogs.
Using the library requires more knowledge, Rawn said. Were in the process of searching for a reference librarian to help users learn the system.
According to Rawn, the librarys search for a reference librarian is a priority. Once the position is filled, the candidate will serve as a bridge, carrying library users from their needs, across the waters of confusion, to the other side: Their source. No matter where the information may be hiding, Rawn said, the reference librarian will need to know how to find things.
We want to make our library more service oriented, Rawn said. We want to put you in connection with other stuff, anywhere.
Rawn said the library was once a depository, either it had what you were looking for, or it didnt. Now, one can access a quick list and search periodical indexes and databases on a unified network; whatever youre looking for, it can be found, whether its in house or not.
Rawn reminds the public that the Vande Bogart Library at MSU-Northern is open to the general public.