Join me on March 19th for the Panel Discussion on Journal Publishing & Faculty Authors

Why did Oxford mathematician Timothy Gowers call for a boycott of publishing giant Elsevier? How did his boycott not only garner more than 7,800 signers by early March, but also capture the attention of the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York Times, Wired, and Forbes? Gowers’ complaints focused on Elsevier’s (1) “exorbitant high prices;” (2) bundling of journals into “Big Deals,” and (3) its support of SOPA, PIPA and the Research Works Act, all of which Gower maintains will unnecessarily restrict access to information. His boycott was triggered in part by Elsevier’s $1.6B in profits for 2010. In response to concerns expressed by researchers, Elsevier withdrew its support for the Research Works Act on February 27. The same day, the bill effectively died. The underlying issues, however, live on.

On Monday, March 19, four ECU professors will speak on a panel designed to engage fellow faculty in some of these underlying issues:

  • Journal pricing: especially how large commercial presses compare to university or association publishers
  • Bundling: how do we know whether ECU’s “Big Deals” are good deals for our university?
  • Publication practices in the disciplines: is the literature of a discipline concentrated in the hands of just a few publishers? There are alternatives, ranging from SCOAP3 to BioMed Central, and faculty do have a role to play in controlling the literature of their disciplines.
  • Evaluating a publisher: what factors come into play when faculty members select a journal and/or publisher to disseminate their work?

Please join me in this Panel Discussion, which is jointly sponsored by the Faculty Senate Libraries Committee and the administration of ECU Libraries.



A Message from the Dean

I have been thinking about the definition and role of the Academic Library, both in general and in particular for East Carolina. In the last decade, developments in printing and publishing technology and the rapid growth and availability of electronic information have wrought incredible changes in academic libraries and the delivery of services to our students and faculty. Research that used to take weeks and months poring through printedindices and retrieving sometimes hundreds of books and bound journals, can now be done in weeks if not days or hours—and often without physically coming to the university library itself.  What we sometimes forget is that obtaining and maintaining those electronic databases, journals, and e-books requires the hard work and expertise of highly skilled and experienced librarians, who just like the librarians of yesteryear who painstakingly built, organized, preserved and protected the great research libraries we revere and remember. And, just as vital as ever are library buildings themselves.  Less space in them may be devoted to shelving books and even less to printed journals, but they are still important and integral to the success of our students and faculty.  Providing safe, comfortable and invitingspaces coupled with state of the art technology, information retrieval services, and knowledgeable, approachable and proactive librarians and staff will always be important. Readers, moreover, still need a quiet reflective space and access to the collections.  Joyner Library provides all of these—and we invite you to visit, virtually and in person.

Stuart Wright: A Life in Collecting

I continue to be so excited about the Stuart Wright Literary Collection. Today we had a sneak preview of an exhibit, Stuart Wright: A Life in Collecting, that will open officially August 1. The show, mounted in six cases scattered throughout the 4th floor Special Collection Reading Room features but a few of the more than 3000 books and 5000 manuscripts to be found in the Collection, but it is more than enough to give you a clue as to the great depth of the treasures to be found within. Many thanks to Matt Hagler, our summer intern, for doing such a fine job creating the exhibit and to all who have been working so hard on getting the collection ready for the public–this has been the work of many, many hands and thousands of hours!

July 2011

July is two-thirds over—in just a little over a month, classes will begin again.  Summer is a slower time, or so our gate count would lead you believe.  Still there is so much going on.  We continue to buy books and journals.  The reading rooms remain open, and students and community users are happy to find a quiet, welcoming place to study, read, and collaborate.

The last finishing touches on the new STEPP Learning Cove (on the second floor) are being completed, and the faculty, staff, and students for that program will shortly begin their “boot camp.” It will be wonderful having this dynamic program as one of Joyner Library’s partners in learning. The Teaching Resources Center is coming back together—renovations have added 50 additional seats, more computers, an instruction room, and a new, more visible service desk.  I invite you to drop by for a visit soon, and be on the look out for invitations to the opening celebrations for both of these areas.

While we are excited about the new spaces and additional seating, we are also troubled by the drastic cuts that this campus and the Library will be facing this academic year and, unfortunately, for years to come.  With permanent cuts amounting to more than 7%, on top of the nearly 20% reductions we have experienced over the last three years, we will have to very carefully examine and evaluate all of our services and resources.  Even though our budget is decreasing, inflation, especially for serials and journals, has not abated, and we will need to begin cutting or eliminating journal titles, if not this year, then almost certainly in the following. We will be asking the entire campus to participate in this conversation, because Joyner Library is your library—the students and faculty of ECU.

February 2011

As Chancellor Ballard expressed in the State of the University address, these next couple years will be difficult. The University could be facing cuts of as much as 20%. What will this mean for Joyner Library and Academic Library Services? We have no crystal ball to reveal what the future portends, but all of us in Joyner are working to ensure continuity of service and the availability of materials and resources despite potentially painful budget cuts.

We will possibly have to reduce the number of books, databases and journals that we receive or provide to our students and users. In the months ahead we will use our time to do that in a thoughtful, collaborative, and data driven process. Our Collection Development and Acquisitions librarians will carefully analyze usage and cost per use statistics before recommending any journal or database cancellations. Faculty will be consulted before cancellations are made. We will almost certainly buy fewer monographs next year, but we also promise to do our utmost to obtain the books that faculty specifically request.

Libraries within the UNC system have always cooperated, and ECU Library users have benefitted from this cooperation. The combined collections of the 17 UNC schools represent an invaluable and un­matched resource for research and study. Our Inter-Library Loan Department can often obtain a copy of a journal article within hours of the request and a book in two or three days. You can count on that excellent service continuing. Our first line of defense will always be communication, so I urge you to contact me or our Assistant Direc­tor for Collections and Technical Services, Eleanor Cook, if you have any questions.

ECU Faculty Authors








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January 20, 2011.   Joyner Library Hosts Inaugural Program Honoring ECU Faculty Authors

January 2011

A new year and a new semester begin. After a few quiet weeks over the holidays, activity in Joyner Library is once again picking up. I am proud of our dedicated faculty and staff and our focus on student learning resources and services. Recently I was able to review the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) Executive Snapshot 2009 for East Carolina University.  ECU student responses often compare well with the national norm.  However, there were two areas where ECU student responses compare less favorably. Fortunately, I believe that Joyner Library can help improve them.

Only 17% of freshmen report that they wrote more than 10 papers or reports—this compares with 31% of freshmen nationally. Barely 14% of these same ECU freshmen report having made a class presentation, compared to 33% nationally.  Joyner Library provides access to hundreds of research databases and thousands of electronic journals, but making sense of this cornucopia is often daunting. Each academic year, our faculty librarians provide more than 1000 library research classes and conduct hundreds of individual research consultations, but they would be willing and, in fact, would be delighted to be asked to do more. If you are faculty member who requires your class to produce a research paper, I would urge you to contact our Coordinator of Instruction, Amy Gustavson, to discuss research orientation classes.

Finally, Joyner Library’s Presentation Practice Room is a state of the art, technology rich facility that is available to students and their teachers.  Using the room’s recording and editing software and equipment, students can incorporate audio, video, and other electronic research data into their reports, practice and hone their individual and group presentation skills, and produce and save a final electronic copy.

December 2010

It’s a crazy and exciting time here at Joyner.  Throughout this past semester the students have responded to our new Collaborative Learning Center by coming in greater and greater numbers—singly and in groups to study, research, write and receive tutoring, writing, and research assistance.  Overall library usage is up nearly 20%, and Reading Day, December 8th, was one for the record books: the single day gate count was 4292, and, at 7:00 p.m., with more than 900 people in the building every table, desk, carrel, and group study room was occupied.  Moreover, our always ingenious and inventive students created their own impromptu study areas, sitting on the floor clustered around any available power plug. Laptops, Ipads, and smart devices were everywhere, and the Library’s wireless network was sorely tested. Our Senior Security Officer, David Perkins, says he has never seen anything like it! December 8th also saw the Library marking another important but more intimate milestone, with a ceremony to present the first Bassman Honors Thesis Award Winner (see page 4). The prize, created to honor the outstanding, student-centered  career of Dr. Michael Bassman, will be given annually for the best researched and written Honors Thesis. This year’s recipient of the prize was Landon Allen who graduated last May summa cum laude with a BS in Chemistry and Biology. Let me close by wishing all of our readers a wonderful and restorative Holiday from all of the faculty and staff of Joyner Library. We will continue to work throughout 2011 to maintain and enhance the high level of service you have come to expect.

Bassman Honors Thesis Award Winner 2010

November 2010

This past week was National Philanthropy Week, and we were able to celebrate it in a big way here at Joyner Library.  Joyner is fortunate to be the recipient of the single largest individual gift to the East Carolina University.  In 1998, Mrs. Verona Lee Joyner Langford donated much of her $8 million estate to create an endowment to “provide support for the purchase of books, publications, equipment, furnishings or other resources to supplement the educational and research opportunities available to students and faculty at Joyner Library.” Since the creation of the endowment, the Langford Endowment has been used to buy books and equipment and to upgrade and enhance the Library’s electronic instruction rooms as well as many, many other things beyond the Library’s state provide budget. To say thank you to Mrs. Joyner and to recognize the many other wonderful donors who have contributed to the enrichment of our collections and facilities, Mrs. Joyner’s niece, Emily Monk Davidson, hosted the third annual Verona Lee Langford birthday celebration. Birthday cake, in the shape of a purple pig, and iced tea were served to the hundreds of students and other guests who turned for this special ceremony. All of us at here at ECU have benefited immeasurably from Mrs. Langford’s gift as well as from the philanthropy of Joyner Library’s many, many friends. So thanks to all of you–students, faculty, staff and community supporters; without you Joyner Library would be unable to provide many of the wonderful services and collections of which we are so proud.

Verona Joyner Langford's Birthday Dean Larry Boyer @ Verona Joyner Langford's Birthday

October 2010

Last month, we hosted colleagues from the History Department for lunch and a discussion about Library services and faculty needs. Joyner Library, with its 1.5 million volume collection and rich special collections and electronic access to more than 300 databases, 40,000 journals, and 600,000 e-books, is an incredible source for information and research. Our faculty and staff are always delighted to be consulted about our collections and services. Although our building will not be adequate to meet the needs of an institution experiencing the current and projected rate of growth, we have recently been able to increase our seating capacity by nearly 200 and to enhance the learning environment with new furnishings and equipment. We are constantly seeking ways to improve both our physical environment and resources.

The lunch forum provided us with some specific improvements which we are seeking to implement quickly, including adding online catalog computers in the second and third floor stack areas and increasing signage about maintaining quiet in the study areas on those floors. We will also redouble our efforts to communicate and consult with faculty about weeding or collection changes.

The History Department’s observations and suggestions were very informative and helpful, and I would like to meet with other departments to explore faculty library and research needs, so I will be contacting other departments in the next few months to set up a Library Dean’s Lunch Forum. But do not feel that you need to wait for the next lunch forum to phone or e-mail me. I look forward to hearing from you.