Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Another thing stores and libraries have in common

There were a couple articles of interest in the past week on things libraries are doing in the digital space. The Daily Iowan had an article that detailed how UI's main library is bringing its special collections and artifacts online -- and the implications of doing so for education. Here's one quote from the piece:
“Many professors are really starting to emphasize teaching with primary documents,” said UI history Associate Professor Leslie Schwalm, who studies Civil War era history. “It involves a much closer examination of the subject, and it’s always a little more exciting for students than a textbook would be.”
Inside Higher Ed also had an article this week on libraries and the move to digital. The article points out indicators of the "declining value of the library Web site as information gateway." Wow. If campus libraries, with their specialists in information cataloguing and retrieval, are having problems creating environments that help faculty and students find information to support teaching, learning, and research, what hope, might you ask, do college stores have? It signals yet again that there are reasons for us to work with libraries to provide a unified environment to the resources students and faculty require to be successful.

The article references a 2008 report by Ithaka on the "key stakeholders in the digital transformation of higher education." The report is worth reading for college stores -- even though the authors somehow did not see stores as key stakeholders in the digital transformation of higher education. Perhaps another signal that stores are being marginalized on their own campus because they are not engaging in the campus discussion. In a survey we just completed at NACS among college stores, only 24.5% of stores reported knowing whether or not their campus had a committee that discusses digital course materials. Of those where a committee did exist, fewer than half had college store representation. To be part of the future, stores must be part of the discussion today.

The Inside Higher Ed piece continues with some lengthy discussion, but the last paragraph is perhaps in some ways the most relevant for the store environment. The author, a librarian himself, writes:
Put simply, the library portal as we know it today is unsustainable. It, along with a host of other indicators such as declines in reference questions and shifts from print to e-resources, signals that for academic libraries a “let’s just keep doing business as usual” mentality is a sure path to obsolescence. If academic librarians fail to grasp the urgency of needed changes to their portals it is quite possible we will read in a future article something along the lines of “Academic librarians thought they were in the information gateway business, but they were really in the learning and scholarly productivity business. They just didn’t recognize it.”

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? One could substitute "college stores" for "academic libraries" and the tale would read the same.

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