March 14th, 2000
by Jennelle L. Harper
Although some students are not aware of it, Colson Hall has made a leap into the 21st century by creating an electronic reserve system where students can access documents via the Internet, eliminating the hassle of making a trip to the library.
To access the system, students can go to the West Virginia University Libraries homepage (www.libraries.wvu.edu) and click on the link to the e-reserve.
However, not just anyone can access a professor’s reserved readings. The professor must first ask Colson to put his or her articles on electronic reserve and the professor must give their students the password to access the readings.
The reason the readings can only be accessed by using a password is because of the copyright law, which prohibits use of information without crediting the author.
“We just can’t put these readings on the Internet and let anyone have access to them,” said Carroll Wilkinson, department head of Access Services. Using the password to view the readings ensures limited access to the general public.
According to professor of history Mark Tauger, putting reserved readings online can help raise overall performance in classes, since students feel that the service is much more convenient than going to Colson Hall to copy the information.
Tauger uses e-reserve for his History 220 class and has noticed that students seem to be doing better in the class.
“The students seem to be reading the material more now,” he said. “I appreciate Colson getting the service prepared efficiently and quickly.”
Frank Fragomene, a junior history major, has been using e-reserve for Tauger’s class.
“It keeps me from having to walk to Colson Hall all the time, and I can read these articles at my leisure,” he said.
So far, the process has proved very easy to use. As of last week, 139 professors had reserved readings on e-reserve, according to Wilkinson. Most professors who use e-reserve are located on the downtown campus, but a few were at the Health Sciences Center.
Stats for student hits on the e-reserve site were very high, Wilkinson said.
During the spring 1999 semester, which was the first semester e-reserve was fully operational, Colson Library mailed out a survey to professors who were using e-reserve in their classes to be completed by the professors and their students. Of the 255 responses received by Colson Library on overall satisfaction with e-reserve, 151 were very pleased with the service, according to the survey.
The process of putting the reserved readings onto the Internet for access via e-reserve is simply scanning the hard copies of the readings into a computer. The images are saved in PDF format, just like a picture would be.
The downfall to the process, however, is in the PDF formatting itself. On older computers, the images’ download and print time is sometimes slow.
Despite the drawback, many teachers still see the new system as beneficial.
“The plus side of the service is that it is accessible to students anywhere,” political science instructor and doctoral candidate Rebecca Klase said. She uses e-reserve for her Political Science 140 classes. The remote access to reserved readings saves students on the Evansdale campus, as well as on the downtown campus, a trip to Colson to check out materials.
Professors and instructors can refer to the WVU Libraries Web page for faculty guidelines on getting their reserved readings online or call Colson Hall at 293-2640.