Within the walls of Alkek Library are resources and books of all kinds. Dissertation writers, book worms and last-minute test crammers swarm the building by the thousands every day.
Faculty and staff collaborate to find the best material to help students get the grades and expand their research to fill eight stories of knowledge.
Requests for material can come from anyone. Students and guests can put in a request through Alkek’s web page, stating the urgency and format of the material. Each department has faculty liaisons and subject librarians who use a system that alerts them when a new title for their designated subject is available.
Faculty liaisons look for material best suited for research, while subject librarians are more focused on student needs, said Paivi Rentz, head acquisitions librarian. The subject librarians see what resources students request every day and try to fill that need.
Acquisition librarians look for awards and reviews for requested material to see if it would be a good buy. These librarians allocate money for each department, determining where the biggest need is and renewing subscriptions.
Rentz said the books can come from academic distribution centers or commercial bookstores, depending on the availability and reputation of the company.
The material is ordered every fiscal quarter. Doing so helps the purchasing system run and conserve money for requested material.
While the allocation covers all types of resources, some departments put more emphasis on nonconventional material. The division of dance, for example, has eight to 10 databases of choreographed video and documentaries.
The Department of Theater and Dance looks for different formats of plays based on the ones requested by students, said faculty liaison John Fleming. There are also radio play versions so students can hear professional actors’ dialogue.
Requesting up-to-date material can also aid the expansion of a department’s possibilities.
“We had to show that we had adequate library material for MFA,” Fleming said. “We got as much creative stuff as possible. We actually have more material than UT Austin.”
To keep the standard for an MFA, the Department of Theater and Dance is working on getting a catalog of more than 2,000 plays in both electronic and hardcopy form. These new plays will be used mainly for auditions and class projects throughout the year.
The items gathered aren’t just for academia. Many provide information for working in that particular career after graduation.
“Our military science does have history books about Amazonian women and World War Two. There is even an e-book about Medal of Honor recipients,” said collection development librarian Selene Hinojosa. “However, there are also guides to being security personnel and interviewing skills needed for police officers. We try to provide everything students need to be successful.”