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SmartLibrary: Innovations, Mobility and Personalized Services

By Carrye Syma, Arlene Paschel and Donell Callender, Texas Tech University Libraries | June 01, 2011

L-R: Carrye Syma, Arlene Paschel and Donell Callender ROLAX QR Code

At Texas Tech University (TTU) Libraries, innovations, mobility and personalized services (IMPS) have significantly changed the way we do business. From the era of “library as place” and “librarian behind the desk,” students and faculty have moved to accessing library resources anytime, anywhere through the library's mobile website. Librarians are incorporating IMPS into websites and pedagogy, and using them to reach students and faculty across campus.

Creating group study areas

By absorbing the reference collection into the stacks, the library was able to repurpose space as collaborative and group study areas called GroupWorks. This area is full of interactive technology such as electronic whiteboards and media tables. Cameras, microphones and software in group study areas enable students to not only work collaboratively onsite, but also allow students or faculty from anywhere to join the session.

Deploying Qwidgets

On the web, library widgets help users in their information quest. QuestionPoint's Qwidget is available on the library website, is in beta phase on the mobile website, and is being integrated into the research tab on the library's Facebook page. Quick response (QR) codes abound in the library building. QR codes on the Knowledge Imaging Center (KIC) scanners link to tutorials on how to get the best use out of the scanners, and codes in the stacks link to the mobile site or the Ask a Librarian chat. Other innovations in the works include iGoogle gadgets, the ability to text call numbers, Text a Librarian, and a customized personal library with a user's accounts, favorite databases, and specialized library services.

Introducing personal librarians

Subject librarians are no longer behind the reference desk. You've heard of personal shoppers? Our campus has personal librarians for students, staff and faculty members in all disciplines. Laptops and, in some cases, iPads give librarians the freedom to come to various learning communities, classrooms and specialized groups, or to have office hours in the department. Personal librarians are available daily in their offices by appointment, but walk-ins are welcome and are often referred by the reference librarian or service desk staff. Librarians use Jing, Office Live Meeting or TeamViewer to communicate with distance students.

Meeting users where they are and getting away from the notion that a person has to visit our website or building is working, but the library has also discovered the importance of marketing to increase use of library services. Marketing plays a significant role in the successful implementation, utilization and assessment of IMPS. For example, the change from reference librarians to personal librarians was introduced by three-minute videos on YouTube entitled, “Meet the Librarian.” These short videos highlighted librarians' outside interests, from tennis to stained glass artistry, and showed their personal sides in addition to their passion for librarianship.

Initiating awareness campaigns

TTU Libraries' award-winning Marketing Department uses awareness campaigns to blast our users with the information they need to hear, see and learn about our services in an innovative and always creative way. TTU Libraries recently won a Thomson Reuters' “Focus on Your Library” competition. As a result, our innovative L?ST cart, which travels around campus to do reference, was featured during National Library Week on a Times Square billboard. This same cart saw lots of action during our football fan phenomenon called Raiderville, where students camp out at the stadium a week before a big game. The L?ST cart staff reached out to students around the camp, assisting them with research.

The marketing team also found a way to market the library and highlight the features of our animation studio by producing a Susie Sunshine animated short, a tutorial on how to use our KIC scanners for efficient, paperless copying. Videos on the library's YouTube channel familiarize users with the 3D animation lab, literature review, EndNote Web and much more.

For more information about our marketing awareness campaigns, see our news pages at