Annual Report 1993-1994 Hugh Blackmer

The second year of my appointment has gone very well; I feel in control of the Library's resources and have enjoyed the opportunity to extend the use of a number of electronic tools and teaching and learning in courses and reference encounters.

During the year I attended the following meetings:

     Nov 12 SIGWAIS (National Library of Medicine) [Mosaic demonstration]
     Mar 2 Computers in Libraries (Crystal City)
          [presentation on W&L electronic access with John Doyle]
     May 6 Virginia Library Association, Library Instruction and
          Microcomputer Interest Forum Meeting (U. Richmond)
          [presentation on "Gophers and Beyond in Library Instruction at W&L"]
I made visits to the Willamette and Reed College libraries during a trip to Oregon in November, and I spent an afternoon at the Electronic Text Center at University of Virginia in May.
Courses taught:
East Asian Studies 190 (Fall term course)
English 301 (3 lectures)
Religion 473 (3 lectures)
Biology 182 (4 lectures)
Psych 395 (Spring term course, with Tyler Lorig)
I appeared in the following courses and workshops, for most of which I also produced handout materials and/or electronic guides:
Parents' Day library tools and Internet demonstration
Ham Smith's Journalism 203 (Fall and Winter)
Darcy Russell's Biology 280 
David Harbor's Geology 395
Erich Uffelman's Chemistry 350
Tom Williams' and Bob Akins' Physics 401
Kary Smout's English 101
Phil Cline's Management 310/Comp Sci 310
Nancy Margand's Psych 265
Mary Ann Simurda's Biology 210
David Parker's History 332
David Parker's History 133
Malcolm Crystal's History 395
faculty workshops 10 June and 14 June
Summer Scholars library orientation sessions 5 and 6 July
I served as external reader for Matt Jackson's honors thesis in English.
Electronic Access

We create demand for information resources by finding them, publicizing their existence through gopher and WWW links, and helping students and faculty learn to use them. Sometimes a link's utility is clear only after it has been called to the attention of a possibly- interested party. This is no different in principle from the traditional work of Reference Librarians with print sources; we draw upon (and serve via the Internet) a truly global array of resources which continue to expand.

Improving access to electronic information resources has been a primary interest since my arrival at W&L, and this last year has seen important steps in both my own skill development and the training of users of our facilities and capabilities. Beginning in the spring of 1993 I had responsibility for the establishment and maintenance of the Libraries and Information Access portion of the W&L gopher, which entailed daily monitoring of new gopher additions (via Netlink) and editing of links. I produced a large number of online help files (viz: pathfinders) and centered most of my teaching around the integration of electronic and traditional print tools.

In the spring I solved the practical problems of retrieval and handling of Internet images (and presented a faculty workshop on images [Images]) and then began to explore Mosaic (with the material assistance of Bob Akins and Tom Ahnemann) as one of the next important tools for information access. Hardware difficulties have led me to center this year's process of reorganization and development of W&L's WorldWideWeb site in the text-based Lynx WWW browser rather than in the graphics-oriented Mosaic, but I have continued to explore Mosaic and expect that I will use it in courses in the sciences. A recent Editorial from Science underscores the importance of this medium:

NCSA Mosaic and the World Wide Web have made access to a marvelous range of information available to Everyperson. Mosaic software can bring the world of linked text, graphics, sound and video to anyone with a desktop computer and a link to the Internet. It is no longer necessary to be an expert to navigate through the world's available information space and find and retrieve items of interest... (Science 265:851)
I have been learning UNIX (a necessary part of tending gopher and web sites) and have produced materials to teach Liberty users the basics ( Bare Bones Basics). A similar process of learning and teaching has accompanied my work with HTML (HyperText Markup Language), the system of tags that defines WWW documents.

In the process of learning HTML I used lynx for several teaching and presentation opportunities:

Reorganization of W&L's Web site has occupied much of the summer; the results can be seen (W&L Home Page) and will soon be available via the Liberty menu.

My collection development and liaison responsibilities include the Science departments and, ina addition to tending gopher and WWW resources for the sciences, have included work on plans for the Science Library. A weeding plan for the science monograph collection is underway.

Bibliographic Instruction Program

Departmental Bibliographic Instruction courses had somewhat higher total enrollments than in 1992-1993 and there were two new courses added (East Asian Studies 190 and Psychology 395):

     Art 431 Senior Thesis Tutorial [8 students] (Warren)
     East Asian Studies 190 [9] (Blackmer)
     English 301 Fundamentals of Literary and Scholarly Practice [41] 
	(Blackmer 3 meetings)
     Politics 190, Journalism 190 [29] (Grefe)

     Biology 182 Use and Understanding of Biological Literature [70] (Blackmer)
     Politics 190, Journalism 190 [27] (Grefe)
     Religion 473 Senior Thesis Seminar [9] (Blackmer 3 meetings)

     Psychology 395 Electronic Information Resources in Behavioral Sciences 
	[18] (Blackmer and Lorig)
Bibliographic Instruction courses and numerous class appearances by members of the Reference staff have perforce included more attention to electronic forms of information, especially with the advent in this year of the FirstSearch databases and Lexis/Nexis. The emphasis is on student development of research skills (and not just on the details of how to search), and I have produced various on-line help texts to support this practical objective.

Workshops for incoming freshmen on the broad spectrum of electronic access are planned for the first week of the Fall term (in cooperation with the Dean of Students and University Computing); a repeat of the June faculty workshops will take place at the end of August.


The Circulation Department has continued to run smoothly under the expert hand of JoAnn Wilson, and shows increases in most measures of activity. Tammi Thomas (mornings) and Ben Skove (weekend nights) deserve mention for many hours of Circulation Desk duty. Student workers handled day to day operations with skill and good humor. Bruce Detlefson served as backup and filled in for Della Mayo during her recuperation after surgery.

An outline of Circulation statistics:
          books          all items
1993-94   53502          74531
1992-93   50964          70219
1991-92   45352          62562
1990-91   41804          59494
1989-90   34535          56125
1988-89   36549          54561
1987-88   32934          52031
W&L Undergraduates account for 61.6% of checkouts, Undergraduate Faculty for 10.4%, local (Rockbridge) residents for 6.9%, ILL transactions for 4.9%, local High- and Middle- Schhol students for 3.8%, and W&L Staff for 3.4%. Other patron categories (W&L Law students, W&L Law faculty, VMI cadets, VMI faculty, local scholars, alumni, other area college students) are below 2%.

Cage Reserve

1993-94   16059 (19% of total checkouts)
1992-93   14281
1991-92   14136
1990-91   15055
1989-90   15140
1988-89   14939
1987-88   18961 (includes videotapes)
(The perennial difficulties posed by very large Reserves for several courses are no closer to solution despite discussions with the faculty concerned).

Video circulation declined somewhat from the previous year:

1993-94   4801
1992-93   4949
1991-92   2957
1990-91   2446
1989-90   2278
1988-89   2956
Patterns of circulation by broad LC categories (Leyburn Library books only, and not including reserves) show the following pattern:
                         1993-94   1992-93
PN-PT (Literature)            21.4%     21.2% of total circulaation
D-DU (Old World History)      10.5%     11.9%
Q-TX (Science)            8.2%          10.4%
E-F (New World History)        7.6%          10.7%
N-NX (Art)                     6.8%           6.7%
BJ-BX (Ethics and Religion)    5.3%           4.9%
HB-HJ (Business and Economics)      5.1%           6.6%
B-BD, BH (Philosophy)          1.6%           2.3%
BF (Psychology)                1.4%           2.4%
HM-HV (Sociology)              1.0%           4.3%
Circulation in the branch libraries was down substantially from the preceding year:
               1993-94   1992-93
Journalism          424       654
Physics        211       333
Geology         64        61
Chemistry       18        48

TOTAL          717        1096
Since only Journalism and Physics have regular systems for entering checkouts into Annie it is all but impossible to assess the significance of these figures.
Objectives for 1994-95

I expect to continue to develop my computer skills, and anticipate work with Mosaic (using X- Windows equipment in the Physics Department and the Macintosh lab in Robinson until the requisite hardware arrives in the Library), both in support of the multimedia information needs of Science departments and in anticipation of broader use of Mosaic as interest grows in the W&L community. I have started learning PERL (the Personal Extraction and Report Language John Doyle uses in Netlink) and will continue to work with UNIX.

I intend to continue the development of instructional use of hypertext. Specific projects underway include bibliographic and research-process guides for English, East Asian Studies, and Biology (in support of English 301, EAS 190, and Biology 182 respectively --see Departmental listings in URL:

I intend to continue work in the Science collection, in preparation for the eventual move to the new Science Library. This will include weeding plans and development of electronic pathfinders to make the monographic, periodical and reference collections more useful and accessible. I anticipate more liaison activities with the Science departments, including current awareness services (via FirstSearch and UnCover) for some faculty and more activity in the realm of electronic searching (I will be attending a day-long DIALOG workshop in searching the chemical literature, and expect an increase in requests for Chemical Abstracts searching from younger faculty in Chemistry).