Photo by Luke Nankivell, photo editor
Students know Cowles Library for its countless shelves of books, cozy study spaces and its newly renovated coffee shop. But, it also has its own collection of DVDs available for students to check out. There are over 1,800 different titles to choose from and they can be found along the north wall of the commons area.
For many students, this may provide a much-needed break from the limited DVD collection they were able to snatch from home and an economical alternative to going to the theater.
“The selection is quite impressive. I will definitely be utilizing it in the future,” Shelby Derrick, first-year, said after checking out the collection.
Teri Koch, head of collection development and management at Cowles, emphasizes that while the library recognizes the need for students to have entertainment outlets, their primary goal is to support the curriculum.
The library is allotted roughly $1.4 million every year to purchase new material, this includes books, journal subscriptions and databases. Though this may seem like a large sum of money, the items add up quickly. Every year, when the library gets the budget from the school, it allocates the money between the many different colleges and their departments.
The staff takes into account the costs of material associated with various disciplines. For example, a science-based text tends to be much more expensive than its humanitarian and social science counterparts. Then a specified library liaison is contacted from each college who then decides an appropriate way to spend the money. This is a prime example of Cowles’ dedication to supporting the Drake curriculum and the students.
Another source that the Cowles’ staff is starting to tap into is e-book technology. Students are able to browse thousands of books that the library does not necessarily own, but pays a rental fee for it once a student accesses the material. Once the e-book has been rented four times, it is automatically bought by Cowles. This is a way to avoid paying for material that students may never access.
Koch refers to the method as a “just in time” approach versus a “just in case” approach. Koch, along with other library staff members, are looking to do more “weeding,” meaning removing books that may not be necessary, with the current books on hand to make more space for student study areas.
Though the move to online sources and databases is increasing rapidly, there are still many journals in disciplines of arts and humanities that are available only in physical form, and many students still prefer paper to a LCD screen.
Koch said when she started working at Drake information was accessed with a card catalog or a CD-rom index. In the middle of this whirlwind of ways to access information, Cowles is constantly working to strike a balance between the online and hard copy worlds.
Because the goal is to support students, it is important for students to be involved in the process. Under the frequently asked questions tab of the Cowles Library page is a place that shows students how to request various materials for the library.
It also constantly looks for feedback and ways to be continually student-centered. Anyone interested in having their voice heard can contact Teri Koch at email@example.com.