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The University Libraries: Teaching and Related Support

The following is a transcript of the "The University Libraries: Teaching and Research Support" multimedia presentation available here.

Hello. This tutorial will introduce the Libraries' services and resources available to Faculty, instructors, and teaching assistants at Northern Illinois University.

Imagine – your students just turned in their first research assignment for your course. You’re excited to read them, but something isn’t right.

Most of the papers were great, but some of them weren't as good. The students clearly just used a web search to find information. There weren't any scholarly resources from journals. A few students even cited websites instead of academic sources.

Fortunately, the library can help! Whether you want help preparing assignments or research instruction for your students, the library's subject specialists are here for you. The library also has services that can help you find materials to use in class or in your own research.

The Northern Illinois University Libraries system consists of Founders Memorial Library and 6 branch libraries which include the Faraday Library, the Music Library, and the NIU Hoffman Estates, Naperville, and Rockford Learning Resource Centers.

The library’s collection contains books, periodicals, media, and online resources.

The University Libraries contain over 2 million volumes as well as periodicals, government publications and maps.

The Rare Books & Special Collections Department keeps rare or important materials in a controlled environment for preservation. Although these materials do not circulate, they are available for tours, exhibitions, research, and other instructional opportunities. You can contact the department via the website to view the available materials or set up a class visit.

The Southeast Asia Collection was established in 1964 and holds a collection of approximately 110,000 volumes of library materials pertaining to eleven countries in Southeast Asia. Visit the collection’s website for more information.

Founders Memorial Library has a variety of media resources available in DVD, VHS, and 16 mm format. The media can be watched in the library's viewing rooms or you can check them out to view at home. Many of the resources would be ideal for you to show in class.

Many of the Libraries’ resources are available online, and may be accessed from off campus. The library subscribes to over 300 online research databases, and has full text access to more than 40,000 electronic journals.

Electronic books are available through NetLibrary and ebrary via the library’s website, and are also searchable through the online catalog.

In some cases, the University Libraries may not have the material that you are looking for. In that case, we may be able to borrow the item from another institution through interlibrary loan. We can borrow books, articles, and other materials from several sources. The amount of time it takes to get a particular item will depend on the type of material and how rare it is. You can request materials through the SFX link in the databases or by completing a form on the library's website.

Sometimes you need students in your courses to be able to read a few pages or a chapter of a book or article. Rather than asking students to buy the book for such a small amount of content, the library can help make it available by putting the material on reserve, either in print or online. Students can typically read print materials in the library for 2 hours. They can photocopy or read the materials anywhere they want within the library, but the materials cannot be removed from the building.

Online reserves can be read anytime. You can give us the materials in any format and we will making them available electronically. The materials will only be visible to students enrolled in your course – they will need to log in with their Z-ID to view the materials. You can easily post a link to the electronic reserves in your Blackboard course, but you do not have to use Blackboard in order to use the electronic reserves.

Guidelines for requesting either print or electronic reserves are available on the University Libraries website.

Some of the library’s most important resources are its people, the faculty librarians and professional staff.

The faculty librarians are subject specialists who serve a variety of functions. These specialists have a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science as well as an additional advanced degree or experience in their subject area. That means that the subject specialists know the library well and have insight into your field.

Subject specialists can collaborate with you to create assignments by pulling materials from the shelves or obtaining relevant sources so they are available to your students when they need them. They can also support students in completing their assignments.

Subject specialists also provide instruction in the use of the library, whether your students need a basic library orientation, instruction on searching the online catalog or research databases, or in-depth instruction related to materials in your subject area. They can also provide more general research instruction, including how to critically evaluate online information and what constitutes a scholarly resource.

Personalized reference assistance is available through the University Libraries. You can get help in person at Founders Memorial Library and the other branch locations, as well as over the phone, via email, and even through a live chat window available on the library website. Reference Librarians provide in-depth reference and research assistance not only for students completing assignments but also for faculty working on their own research and scholarship.

The library also provides assistance for people with disabilities, tailored to the needs of the individual. There is a designated staff person who can help identify and obtain copies of library materials in an appropriate format, like audio, large print, or braille. A fully-equipped specialized study room is also available. This study room has adaptive equipment, including magnification screens, screen-reader and speech-to-text software, braille writers, and much more.

The library offers some specialized services just for faculty members.

If you discover that an article you want is not available full-text online, but we have the article in print, you can always come to the library to make a copy. However, if you don’t have time for that, the we offer Campus Document Delivery. Library staff will scan the article and email you a link to it. You request the article using the same form for interlibrary loan requests. Campus Document Delivery is a “convenience” service, not an “urgency” service – requests take approximately 4 business days to process.

Sometimes, you just need to get away from it all, especially if you have to share office space with a colleague. Faculty can reserve a private study carrel in the library – a place all your own where you can bring a laptop and spread out.

Finally, faculty who have students working as research assistants can set up Proxy Authorization whereby you give a student permission to check out library materials for you in your name. This is a convenient service, but shouldn’t be taken lightly. Since the materials are checked out on your account, you are responsible for them no matter who has physical possession of them. To grant a student proxy access, you and the student must complete the proxy authorization application which is available at the Circulation Desk in Founders Memorial Library.

I hope this tutorial has helped you learn about the many services the library has to offer that can support your teaching and scholarly activities. If you have any questions, check out the University Libraries website or contact your subject specialist.

Last Updated: 9/10/2014