Massachusetts Library Snapshot Day at the Bentley Library

On Wednesday, April 11, the library participated in Library Snapshot Day, a statewide event scheduled to coincide with the American Library Association’s National Library Week. On Snapshot Day, libraries throughout Massachusetts collect statistics and other information to illustrate a typical day in the life of the library – a snapshot, as the name implies.

snapshot daySnapshot Day shows the value and contributions of libraries to communities around the commonwealth, whether the community is a school, a town or city, or a college campus. Like most other libraries, we collect these numbers every day, but they’re mostly for internal use. Last week they were meant to be shared.

Here’s a picture of April 11, a typical Wednesday at the Bentley Library:

  • More than four thousand people visited the library – 4,640, to be exact.
  • Around 100 people attended the Desserts & Downloads program celebrating the launch of our new downloadable audiobooks and ebooks. During the event, users downloaded 46 titles to their laptops, iPads, smart phones and other mobile devices.
  • Patrons performed 999 searches in the library’s online catalog and 1,559 searches in the ProQuest databases.
  • The group study rooms were busy, with a total of 305 reservations.
  • The circulation desk handled 425 items for 170 patrons: 271 items borrowed and 154 items returned, including course reserves.
  • The circulation desk also inventoried 80 new items for the library’s collection.
  • The interlibrary loan department received 40 requests for materials from Bentley patrons and those at other libraries, including 17 borrowing requests and 23 lending requests.
  • The technical services staff was also busy. In one day, they:
    • Checked in 25 new periodical issues and received 75 new books
    • Paid invoices for 264 publications, including periodicals, videos, serials, books, and electronic services
    • Cataloged 126 new titles and added 136 new items or volumes to the collection
    • Added bibliographic records for 408 new ebooks to the catalog for the Books 24×7 collection
  • The reference staff fielded 40 questions, including 27 questions about research or academic help and reference sources. The total of 40 includes questions asked in person and those that came in over the phone and through instant messages or email. Top question topics were:
    • Researching World War II battles
    • Finding and reading company annual reports
    • Citing sources in a particular format
    • Finding the full text of a journal article
    • Downloading an ebook to a particular device

We also asked patrons using the circulation and reference desks to complete a short survey telling us how they were using the library that day. Here’s what a small, unscientific sample of 58 Bentley Library patrons had to say about what they were doing at the library last Wednesday.

What did you do at the Bentley Library today?

  • Check out an item: 10
  • Homework: 24
  • Research: 14
  • Quiet place to study: 19
  • Read: 15
  • Use the Internet: 18
  • Attend a meeting: 18
  • Attend a program: 14
  • Other: 9

We’re here to serve the entire Bentley community, so we also wanted to know who was using the library on Snapshot Day.

What is your role at Bentley? (Some respondents selected more than one option.)

  • Undergraduate student: 34
  • Graduate student: 8
  • Faculty: 3
  • Staff: 14
  • Waltham resident: 1
  • Other: 2 (includes alumni and retired staff)

We also asked about how the library helps patrons with their academic work, research, and teaching. As was the case last year, two of the major themes in your responses were quiet study space and access to resources such as books and databases. This year, many patrons mentioned our new downloadable ebooks and audiobooks as a major attraction of the library.

Here are some highlights from the comments:

“Indispensable.” –Faculty member

“Gives the students a quiet, comfortable alternative place to do their work, as opposed to a dorm room or house.” –Undergraduate student

“Provides a nice comfortable space to do work with no distractions. The computers also have good programs for free.” –Undergraduate student

“… a quiet and distraction-free zone. Everything is so technologically advanced and I love the study rooms for group work.” –Undergraduate student

“…The search engines help with research and rooms are perfect for meetings.” –Undergraduate student

“They assist me in accomplishing a variety of tasks as well as improving my productivity.” –Faculty member

“Borrow books, do research, relax, read magazines, DVDs! I love my library!” –Staff member

“MANY resources and MANY reference librarians are always available when I need library services.” –Staff member

“It is a quiet place for me to go, and the cubicles on the second floor provide zero distractions! I also enjoy going to the larger tables when I have easy work to do and just like to spread out.” –Undergraduate student

“Love the current bestsellers.” –Retired staff member

The library staff would like to extend a big thank-you to everyone who helped out with Snapshot Day. Your comments and suggestions about how you use the library are always welcome – on Snapshot Day and throughout the year.

Bentley Library Information Literacy Series: “The Future of Information Literacy”

Please join us on Thursday, March 29, for the spring installment in the Bentley Library Information Literacy Series, featuring Laura Saunders, assistant professor at the Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Light refreshments will be available in LaCava 325AB at 3:30 pm, with the event getting underway at 4:00 pm.

“The Future of Information Literacy”

Bentley Library Information Literacy Series


Laura Saunders, Assistant Professor, Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science

Prof. Saunders is a former academic reference and instruction librarian who holds master’s and doctoral degrees in library and information science from Simmons. She is an expert on information literacy and will speak about the future of information literacy—how research and evaluation skills transfer from high school to college, and from college to beyond, and how faculty and students both contribute to students’ ongoing learning of information literacy skills and concepts.

More information about Prof. Saunders and her research and teaching is available on the Simmons College GSLIS website.

Please RSVP to Liz Galoozis by March 15 if you plan to bring a class to the event or will require students to attend.

For library colleagues attending from other institutions, a tour of the Bentley Library will follow the talk.

An Update on Unattended Belongings in the Library

If you’ve been in the Library to study over the past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed slips of paper that look like this:

Library warning slip: Please do not leave your valuables unattended. Seats should not be reserved by leaving personal or library property at a seat.
Please do not leave your valuables unattended. Seats should not be reserved by leaving personal or library property at a seat.

Members of the Library Services staff have been walking through the building and leaving the slips on unattended items. We’ve been doing this for a few reasons.

With the closure of the Client Services computer lab on the lower level of the Library over the summer, we’ve lost seats in the building, leading to a noticeable uptick in complaints from students who can’t find a place to sit and study. Several students have mentioned to us that they notice seats being reserved with personal or library property.

Being popular is a strange problem to have, but the fact is that the Library is one of the busiest buildings on campus and offers some of the most plentiful and comfortable study space. When some people are staking out seats they’re not using, it means that other people don’t have a place to sit. The library staff has a responsibility to make sure that the spaces in the building—whether they’re carrels, chairs, tables, or group study rooms—are available for everyone to use.

While we’re talking about unattended belongings: Theft is not a major problem in the library, but thefts have occurred. Whenever you leave your belongings unattended—even in a safe place, like the Bentley campus—you are leaving yourself vulnerable to theft. We’d rather have library patrons take precautions than risk having valuable items stolen.

We know it can be jarring to get up to use the bathroom and come back to find a warning slip on your chair. But we would be neglectful if we didn’t respond to student concerns. It’s simply an effort to make the Bentley community aware that library space is shared space and to ask people to treat each other with respect.

Got a question about this or anything else at the library? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

It’s Banned Books Week! Banned & Challenged Books are On Display.

From September 24 through October 1, the Bentley Library joins libraries around the country in observing Banned Books Week. During Banned Books Week, we celebrate the freedom to read by bringing attention to efforts to curtail that freedom. From classics to children’s books to nonfiction, hundreds of books are challenged in the US each year for a host of reasons, with the most frequent from 1990 to 2010 being sexually explicit content, offensive language, and violence. Real numbers are much higher since so many challenges are never reported to the American Library Association, which has been tracking challenges since 1990. Most challenges take place in schools, school libraries, and public libraries, but academic libraries are not immune to questions about controversial materials, and academic libraries’ dedication to research and free inquiry means that we have a particularly strong obligation to protect access to ideas and information of all kinds.

Stop by the library to view our display of banned and challenged books. You’ll find a sampling of classic and contemporary titles that have been at the center of controversy at schools and libraries in the United States and abroad, along with a description of why each title was challenged.

You can celebrate Banned Books Week in many ways:


Who Wrote This and Why Should I Care? Evaluating and Understanding Information in a Business Context

In the classroom and in the business world alike, the ability to evaluate information for context, credibility, and accuracy is valuable for success, whether that means getting a good grade on a research paper or making a pivotal financial decision that will affect your company’s future. In order to successfully analyze information sources, users must know what to look for, and how to look at it. What goes into the writing of a news article, a business report, or a press release, and how do these documents differ from one another? How do reporters, analysts, and other writers evaluate the sources they use to prepare a piece of information that you will use? How do businesses evaluate and use information, and what are the costs and benefits to businesses of accurate information evaluation?

A panel of experts from journalism, education, and business will convene at Bentley University on Wednesday, October 26, to discuss these questions and many others related to the production, evaluation, and use of information sources. Sponsored by the Bentley Library, the panel will take on a topic that is always timely but is of particular concern as electronic resources become increasingly ubiquitous.

Please join us in LaCava 305AB at 6:00 pm for light refreshments, with the discussion getting underway at 6:30 pm.

“Who Wrote This and Why Should I Care? Evaluating and Understanding Information in a Business Context”

Organized and Sponsored by the Bentley Library


Dan Kennedy, Assistant Professor, School of Journalism, Northeastern University

Elizabeth LeDoux, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Media and Culture Program at Bentley University

Cynthia Robinson, Research Director, Bain Capital


Chris Beneke, Associate Professor in History and Director of the Valente Center for Arts and Sciences at Bentley University


Check Out the Self-Checkout

Don’t like lines? Feeling self-sufficient? The library’s self-checkout station, located at the Library Services Desk, is the place for you.

Equipped with sensors underneath the counter, a monitor, and a barcode reader, the self-checkout is a quick and easy way to get your library materials checked out so you can get on your way. Onscreen prompts guide you through the process of checking out your items. Next time you have books and DVDs (but not audiobooks, which have to be checked out by hand!), stop by and give the self-checkout a try. Just make sure your ID is registered with us and has a library barcode, and you should be good to go.

Bentley Library Self-Checkout
The library's self-checkout station is located at the Library Services desk on the main floor.

Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Electronic Textbooks But Were Afraid to Ask

Recently we’ve gotten some questions in the Library about electronic textbooks, so we’re keeping an eye on developments in this evolving market. A recent survey suggests that 75 percent of college students still prefer print textbooks, while 12 percent prefer electronic versions. Regardless of the format you prefer, here’s what you should know about etextbooks as you prepare for the start of the 2011-2012 school year.

Be prepared to do some research and legwork to find what you need. No one site has every etextbook that’s available, so don’t be surprised if you have to check with a few vendors to find what you need. The Barnes & Noble at Bentley Bookstore has electronic versions of some of the books assigned in classes, so you might begin your search there. When you go to the bookstore (in person or online) you’ll be shown if the textbook you need is available in digital form. Campusbooks, a price-comparison website, has a database covering several of the largest textbook vendors, including CourseSmart, Barnes & Noble, Kno, and The Campusbooks database doesn’t cover all of the vendors out there, and it also doesn’t include academic repositories and open learning sites, so don’t give up if you don’t find what you’re looking for right away.

Free books are hard to come by. Expect to do some extra digging if you want to find free textbooks. Free textbooks are titles that are either in the public domain or have been made available under an open source license allowing you to use the book for free with some conditions, but many free textbooks are hard to find because they are available through an author’s website rather than an academic repository or a publisher. You can browse MERLOT and College Open Textbooks for listings of free textbooks. WikiEducator also offers links to free and open textbooks available on the web, and Connexions has a variety of free academic materials, including textbooks. Flatworld sells etextbooks but also allows you to read any book for free online. Bear in mind that the specific textbook your professor has assigned—or if you’re a professor, the book you want your class to read—might not be available on a free site because of the restrictions publishers place on availability.

Rentals are common. If you’re about to click “checkout” on a site selling etextbooks, make sure you understand what you’re paying for. In many cases, you’re not buying the book to own it permanently—you’re paying for a rental, often for about six months. You’ll have the book for a semester or so, but you won’t be able to use it in subsequent semesters, whether it’s assigned in another class or you simply want to refer back to it for a paper or to refresh your memory, without paying for it again. CourseSmart, Amazon’s Kindle textbook rental service, and Kno are among the sites operating on the rental model. Consider your needs and whether a rental will meet them.

Know what you’re getting. Make sure you understand what you’re downloading, whether it’s a free textbook or one you’ve purchased. Are you getting the correct file format for the device you’ll be using to read the book? Have you read and understood the terms of service for the site or service you’re using, and do you know your rights as the end user of the textbook? Even if you’re purchasing an electronic textbook rather than renting it, your rights are probably more limited than they would be with a printed book—you’re likely limited in your ability to lend the book, for example, and you can’t resell it after you’re done using it. Also, make sure you’re aware of what’s included in the download. Flatworld offers packages including audiobooks, flashcards, and other study aids in addition to the electronic textbook itself. Again, it’s wise to consider your needs before purchasing additional electronic materials, just as you would do with printed items.

What’s happening at Bentley? While the Library staff has started to hear some buzz about etextbooks on campus, we haven’t seen widespread adoption of them by students or faculty members. Nicole Dube, manager of the Barnes & Noble at Bentley Bookstore, confirmed this, telling us that etextbooks make up a small but growing percentage of textbook sales—currently about 10 percent. Although the library purchases ebooks covering a wide variety of business topics from Books 24×7, EBSCO eBooks, and Safari Books Online, we do not typically buy print or electronic textbooks for our collections. Some faculty members place their own copies of a textbook on reserve for a class, so ask your professor or check the library website’s course reserves section or Blackboard to see if your class is one of these.

As always, please feel free to contact a librarian if you have questions about textbooks or any other subject. We’re here to help and are happy to answer your questions.