Library Project

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See also: Notes for Future Librarians


Our club library is pretty impressive, for 1980. We should seriously consider changing this to the present. Content decisions seem to generally be made by strongly opinionated individuals whereas we should be focused on providing resources for anyone on campus who is interested in computer science.

  • Update and improve library content.
  • Set up some method of keeping the library current in the future.
  • Re-evaluate the purpose of our library.

Books Wishlist

Split to Books Wishlist

Pruning the Library

Split to Book Pruning

Guidelines for Library Funding

In the past, our budgets have failed to focus much attention to the library, even though our textbooks keeping getting older and less relevant, and courses and frontiers in Computer Science evolve. It is a shame that we don't have a book on multi-core programming, or artificial intelligence! The following guideline provides a detailed strategy for budgeting for books in the future :

This guideline is likely high, because most undergrad courses are moving towards printed course notes rather than textbooks.

  • Did you know that every year approximately 20% of the courses in SCS change their books & edition?

This equates to something like $1000 of new material per year. As a result :

    • We need to raise at least $1,000 annually to keep up with the material used to cover courses in SCS
    • We will need to raise most of it during the Fall & Winter terms since :
      • First offerings of courses occur in the Fall/Winter term each year and that is when the new textbooks arrive
      • Historically we get higher memberships and people on campus so more funding
  • Did you know that CS is a constantly changing field?
    • New fields within CS are discovered every year
    • New technologies and paradigms (e.g. multi-core programming) occur every 5 to 10 years?
    • New knowledge is discovered in the field that replaces our older (less accurate) knowledge?

We therefore need to allocate roughly $1,500 per year to have a library that accurately reflects the current and state of the art of computer science. To say that our library is not state of the art in CS is an extreme under-statement. This funding could be equally spread out to $500 per term from mathsoc.

Currently our library is very much outdated and does not have textbooks that reflect the courses that CS students are currently taking. From my estimate we need approximately $5,000 to have an up to date CS library. Therefore for the immediate strategy we need to get at least $1,500 per term from Mathsoc/MEF to allow our library a chance at staying current with the department's offerings. Therefore we should try to budget in $2,000 for Fall,Winter and Spring to get our library updated to the CS courses as well as to cover some of the frontiers and state of the art in computing that will serve our library into the future.

A great deal of discussion has been spent talking about our library equipment and possible hardware (barcode upgrades for instance). However I don't think it would be responsible for us to look at these areas and especially to budget these improvements in if we don't have a vastly updated library.

Fixing the Library

A statement : The only way to get the library fixed is through terms of growing and pruning. As mentioned above, we need to grow our library to reflect the courses offered in SCS, as well as to cover the current and state of the art in CS.

At the same time it is important that we prune down our library to contain relevant and updated material. There is no point in having a cluttered library that makes it hard to find reference material because we must hold on to books that are 20/30+ years old. We don't need to have books on APL/360 programming, and having these old unnecessarry books will pollute our library with irrelevance and outdatedness.

The only way the library can be fixed is to find the solutions to the direct problems in our library. That is rather than worrying about the irrelevant technical details of the library system, we need to take a look at our inventory (that is our books) and see what needs growing and pruning. We can build the technical layers once we have built the paper layers (that is the physical books have been purchased or have been planned to be purchased). It will take courage and will to follow this procedure since we will have to let go of things that need letting go.

Proposed Library Update Plan

One of the problems in keeping any library relevant is to ensure that reference material is up to date and current with the area of study in question. This is especially true in the area of computer science and technology where ideas change fast. The following are some suggested considerations which could aid in keeping our library up to date now and into the future.

  • Safari Bookshelf Subscription

Safari Bookshelf is a online web service that allows you to read any O'Reilly book for a subscription fee (usually around $40/month). This service will give the CSC an excellent online library resource, where members can login and view all of the latest O'Reilly books including those yet to be published. Access control would be a concern which would need to be addressed in using such a system, however the concept of having an electronic resource of continually up to date reference material is tempting.

  • What are the new technologies and ideas in computer science?

This is the question that we should be asking ourselves at least at the beginning of the term to determine what new books need to be purchased to fill the reference gap that builds going from term to term. We should have a firm commitment of purchasing at least 10 reference books per term to ensure that we are getting the breadth and depth requirements of having a successful CS library, especially when it is common for dozens of new CS books to be released every term.

  • What are the official CS course textbooks?

The CSC should have an up to date library of all of the required textbooks for all of the CS courses offered at the University. This will allow our members to quickly access their course reference materials should they ever leave their books at home, or need to look at the book desperately for an assignment that is coming due soon. The CSC be a source of reference for CS students who need the references that drive many of their CS courses.

  • What books are getting old?
    • How relevant is the book's content today?
    • Has the book gone to a new edition?
    • Have their been fundamental changes in the topic which are not reflected in the current book?
    • How popular is the book? (This can be determined by how many times it has been checked out from the library system)
    • Does the material fill a large gap in our reference material?

Library Accessories

There has also been some talk for suggested accessories or tools for our library system. The following is the current list of such accessories and reasons behind getting such accessories.

  • Magstripe Member Cards

Each CSC member could have a magstripe member card which would allow them to check-in and checkout books by swiping their card at a swiper and then scanning the book in question. This could speed up the check-in/check-out times since they do not need to enter information into the system, but rather scan their cards. The magstripe cards could later be extended with CEO to allow term renewal via card swipe, as well as other value added features.

  • Wireless barcode scanner.

The wireless barcode scanner will allow us to go up to the books and scan them in, rather than having to move the books over to the barcode scanner to have them scanned. This will allow for a degree of more freedom when scanning in books (especially when we receive the stack of new books)

  • RFID tags

When we receive new books, RFID tags encoded with book information is attached to each book. Whenever, someone checks-in/checks out books, all you need to do is wave the book in front of a scanner without having to locate the barcode, which could speed up the process of checking in and out books