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Missio Seminary

Maintain library resource access during transitional periods

Lydia Putnam helps students at Missio Seminary
Lydia Putnam helps students at Missio Seminary

"We were able to maintain student access to library resources, even when our library was in a different city from the campus, because WorldCat Discovery makes it so easy for them to browse and get millions of electronic resources."

Lydia Putnam
Webmaster & Technical Services Coordinator, Missio Seminary

The library staff at Missio Seminary knew that moving the library to another city would be a lot of work. For one thing, the new library building would be much smaller, so they’d first have to dramatically reduce their print collection without limiting student and faculty access to resources. And they’d face at least one semester during which most of campus had moved to Philadelphia while the library was still 30 miles away in Hatfield. “Honestly, I don’t think it would have been possible without the reports in WMS [WorldShare® Management Services] and the remote access options in WorldCat® Discovery,” Webmaster & Technical Services Coordinator Lydia Putnam explained.

The staff already had some experience supporting remote users. “Our classes are all hybrid with an online component, and we’ve set up links to course reserves in WorldCat Discovery for each class,” Lydia said. “The other thing that really helped us maintain services, even from another city, was joining the Digital Theological Library, the organization behind the Open Access Digital Theological Library. We were able to give our students access to literally millions of resources in a matter of hours, just by turning on collections in WorldShare Collection Manager.”

With confidence that e-resources could meet many research needs, Lydia and Director of Library Services Rachel McConnell began shrinking the print collection. “Our goal was to make sure that we kept the books that were core to the topics of study our users need,” Rachel explained. Using the comprehensive inventory reports in WMS, Lydia worked closely with faculty to evaluate books in their subject areas. “They would ask, ‘What year is this from?,’ ‘How often is this used?,’ ‘Does anyone else own it?’ and I was able to answer those questions really easily.”

“One student said he was having trouble finding peer-reviewed articles, but it turned out he was using Google. So, I got on the phone with him and said, ‘Guess what? We’ve got something better than Google.’ I walked him through a search and pointed out the ‘peer-reviewed’ facet in WorldCat Discovery, and now he can do better research on his own.” –Rachel McConnell, Director of Library Services, Missio Seminary

In just nine months, Rachel and Lydia reduced the print collection by more than 78% to about 12,000 books. “Now when you come in, you can find exactly what you’re looking for. The shelves are more concise and on topic,” Rachel said. Since many of Missio’s classes are offered in the evening to working professionals and in the hybrid format, she added, “The majority of students really do prefer the electronic platform because they can access them at any time.” Lydia agreed, “We’ve been able to support our students in Africa or Australia almost to the same degree that we support our local students.”

Rachel and Lydia completed the library move in January 2020. “We moved the books on Monday, and I could have checked them out right away as they came off the carts on Wednesday,” Rachel said. Just to make sure all 12,000 books made the trip, she’s been conducting an inventory with WMS’s Digby app. “I can just click, click, click right on my phone instead of wheeling a cart through this much smaller space,” she said.

Rachel and Lydia have also configured WorldCat Discovery in helpful ways to enhance the user experience, such as by placing the “request item” and “interlibrary loan item” buttons in the same place, depending on whether Missio owns the item. Rachel appreciates that “WorldCat Discovery lets students feel very independent, even when doing extensive research. They can find what they need at any time of day or night.”

Location

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Library at a glance

  • Supports a Christian seminary of fewer than 200 students, largely working professionals seeking graduate-level theological degrees
  • Offers LIB101, an online introduction to library services
  • Partners with more than 100 libraries through the ATLA, SEPTLA, and TCLC consortia

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