Reserved materials could soon be available online

Carrie Koch

More students may soon find it easier to access all of the course reserve materials for their classes. The new electronic reserve system at Mabee Library allows literature, that was once only found in the library, to be accessed online.

The system, which is still in pilot project mode, started its test run in fall of 2005, but is not available to all students yet. In this new system, course reserve materials, such as articles, journals or whole chapters from books, are scanned into a PDF format and then are available on a Web site organized by Docutek, a document managing provider. Students can either read the material online or print it out.

“It could save students from having to come to the library to pay 10 cents for copies of paper versions. Also, they can have clean copies instead of copies of used, hard materials,” said Andrea Leon, circulation manager of Mabee Library.

Students who wish to access the Docutek Web site and take advantage of the online materials must have been issued a URL and password by their professor.

Since the system is so new, only a few professors are trying it this semester. This will be history professor Kim Morse’s second semester using the new system. Three of her sections have access to it.

“I like the reserve system. I use a lot of reserves for my classes, and this system is easy and efficient for the students to use. They find it beneficial,” said Morse.

It may be too easy though. Students who do not regularly go to Mabee Library will have another reason not to since the reserve materials are available with any internet connection.

“We’re going to have to find new ways to get students to the library. There are so many other resources there for them to take advantage of,” said Morse.

Another problem that has arisen is copywriting. Each piece of course material posted on the Docutek website is subject to copyright. Some materials have been taken down because copyright permission was not granted.

As for the overall success of the Docutek electronic reserve system, it is too early to tell. Tweaks are still being worked out. Policies, procedures and guidelines are still being written to help the system perform at its best available capability.

“The whole thing is ideally great. If it works well, it would be a great system for the entire campus to use,” said Leon.