Academic Tuesdays: Jan. 31, 2023

UAF Libraries - Resources and renovations

Karen Jensen, the UAF director of libraries, outside on the Troth Yeddha' campus in Fairbanks, Alaska.
UAF photo by JR Ancheta
Karen Jensen, the UAF director of libraries, outside on the Troth Yeddha' campus in Fairbanks, Alaska.

by Karen Jensen, Director of Libraries

The library is more than just books:

Professional librarians frequently debate the higher purpose of the library, especially as society and technology change. Are we a public meeting place? Are we an internet service provider? Are we an information gatekeeper? Are we all about books? Anyone using libraries lately knows that we are currently all of those things, and more; we are the heart of any community engaged in the pursuit of knowledge. Sometimes folks express surprise that the library still exists, because they believe that Google has “everything.” They think libraries nationwide must be closing down. If that is your perspective, you might be interested to know that there are more libraries in America than there are McDonald’s! That Big Mac is not going anywhere and neither are libraries. 

Changes in the Rasmuson Library:

The academic library however, is changing and so goes Rasmuson Library. During the last 20 years most of our journal subscriptions have moved to perpetual online access. Faculty used to complain about having to find their article online; now, our faculty might not even be aware that we still have some print-only journals! UAF patrons now download over 350,000 journal articles every year. E-books are more recent than e-journals, but their use at UAF has mushroomed – we now have access to more than 300,000 e-books! If you like numbers, add in our collection of over 60,000 online journals, and 184 databases containing indexing, full text, video, audio, reference works, and more. When you walk through the building, you truly see only the tip of the iceberg of information resources available to you.

Media Services and Special Collections:

One of the secrets we try not to keep is our media equipment lending program. Faculty and students can check out all kinds of equipment, from ordinary laptops or Chromebooks, to high quality digital cameras, to older format A/V machines such as VHS or cassette recorders, slide carousels, and 35mm film projectors. To ensure that older information is not lost to time, these machines help users access the content, and potentially update it for future use or preservation. If you need something, just ask; we might have it. The Alaskana, archives and special collections focus on all aspects of life in Alaska, the circumpolar North and Antarctica; these are on levels 2 and 3. Start your search in the Alaska Library Catalog, but if you don’t find what you need, consult with us. I strongly encourage you to visit the archives by making an appointment for the time that best suits your schedule. Instructors, please consider requesting a visit for your class so that you can expose your students to a wealth of unique content, most of which is not on the web anywhere; teaching students about these materials expands their intellectual horizons. Our world class collections of rare and unique manuscripts, papers, letters, photos, books and maps feature buried treasure with every archival box.

6th floor renovation:

With the on-going renovation of our 6th floor to create the new UAF student success center, we’ve removed books along with everything else from level 6. Do we still need any books? (Yes) Did you get rid of all of them? (No) Where did the books go? (level 5 and off-site storage) For printed book lovers, don’t worry! We still have three floors full of books. The general collection (all topics) has made its way to level 5 and I hope you’ll find more current and relevant content there now. Meanwhile, we’re still acquiring newly published printed books; check out our new books and bestseller collections on level 4.

When you renovate one floor of a large library such as the Rasmuson, you create ripple effects throughout the building. As funds and employee time permit, we’ll be making some improvements on each level of the library to better meet student needs. We are committed to maintaining both group and quiet study space and all the equipment students need to do their academic work. We continue to host programs and workshops to suit all interests; stay tuned on social media for the latest offerings.

I’d love to hear from you – what you like and don’t like, what you are hoping for in our newly renovated spaces, and how you can be involved. I’m happy to answer any questions you have and help you find the resources you need. Skip the Big Mac and come to the library!