City University (London)

Quinsee, Susannah. “Facilitating e-Learning.” Library Association Record 103, no. 10 (October 2001): 616-617.
The development of a Masters in Geography Information (MGI) program via WebCT at the City University in the UK is described in this case study. Issues like feeling of isolation vs. community building in an online café, preferred access to the materials and information overload are addressed. The development of the virtual library, authenticated by Athens (an access management system that controls access web-based subscriptions services; used primarily in the UK), was vital to the design of the MGI course and was later expanded to be a comprehensive information resource. Some problems are identified with the digital resources (e.g. copyright clearance, licensure, cost, time, effort), but the biggest challenge was digitizing the existing course materials without changing the module structure or content. Despite all the challenges, the virtual library was successful. The author concludes by discussing the future of e-learning for the MGI course and recommends further work in the areas of developing an online community and for provision of central authentication. M. Chakraborty.

Edge Hill College of Higher Education

Black, Coral and Sue Roberts. “Staff Without Walls: Developing Library and Information Staff for e-Learning.” In Libraries Without Walls 5: The Distributed Delivery of Library and Information Services, edited by Peter Brophy, Shelagh Fisher, and Jenny Craven. London: Facet Publishing, 2004, 19-30.
The virtual learning of today makes heavy demands on library and information services staff. In such an ever-changing environment, information professionals are forced to perform work and undertake roles that go far beyond the training that they received before starting their careers. The need for continuing staff development and training cannot be emphasized enough. The staff development practices at Edge Hill College of Higher Education in northwestern England are presented as a case study. A. Lawrence.

Roberts, Sue and John Davey. “VLEs and Information Services: Redefining Distance Learning and the Role of Information Services Within the Virtual Learning Environment.” In Libraries Without Walls 4: The Delivery of Library Services to Distant Users, edited by Peter Brophy, Shelagh Fisher, and Zoë Clarke. London: Facet Publishing, 2002, 73-84.
The Information and Media Services (IMS) staff and the Teaching and Learning Development Unit (TLDU) at Edge Hill College of Higher Education have taken the introduction of virtual learning environments – in this case, WebCT – as an opportunity to create new working relationships. By working in hybrid academic teams, both IMS and TLDU staffs have been able to create a truly integrated learning environment for their first fully online program. The authors offer as their case study Edge Hill’s “Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Clinical Practice Programme;” a continuing education program for clinical practitioners who teach new members of the medical field. Rather than focusing on the technology, the teamwork and changes in the traditional structure of the college’s services is examined. B. Reiten.

London Business School

Edwards, Helen. “Helping the Librarian to Help the User: The HEADLINE Personal Information Environment.” In Libraries Without Walls 3: The Delivery of Library Services to Distant Users, edited by Peter Brophy, Shelagh Fisher, and Zoë Clarke. London: Library Association Publishing, 2000, 143-153.
Project HEADLINE (Hybrid Electronic Access and Delivery in the Library Networked Environment) is an ongoing development and research program between three UK business schools. The ultimate goal is to provide an integrated management system of library resources, both for users and librarians. Through a technical discussion of the development and implementation of HEADLINE and its PIE (personal information environment), the author offers a glimpse of the efforts required in the creation of a system of this nature and how the workflow can be combined with preexisting library systems. B. Reiten.

London School of Economics

Secker, Jane and Kris Roger. “Learning Technology at the LSE.” ASSIGNation 19, no. 3 (April 2002): 33-35.
The London School of Economics (LSE) in 1999 established a Learning and Teaching Technology Group to provide services and support for distance learners. Growth in distance education led to the further creation of the LSE Centre for Learning Technology to support more distance education courses with more staff and services. Departments developing online education can apply for grants to employ a research assistant that works during the development phase of the course to develop the information research aspects of the course. Involved in the responsibilities of this research assistant are the development of web pages and electronic course packs for the course. The author ends by describing a multi-university project in the area of global media and communications. T. Summey.

Loughborough University

Gadd, Elizabeth. “Meeting the Library Needs of Distance Learners Without Additional Funding.” Library Management 23, no. 8/9 (2002): 359-368.
Acknowledging Loughborough University’s (LU) intention to expand distance learning (DL) offerings, the LU Library established a DL working group in 2001. The working group was to “tailor Library services to the needs of [distance learners], as resources permit.” After researching DL at LU, they discovered what many DL practitioners have found – there is no centralized DL system on campus and, consequently, there is no single distance learning student profile. Library services to distance learners, therefore, need to be different to respond to the needs of the individual student. The working group first gathered information by undertaking a number of surveys including LU’s distance learners, the academics teaching DL courses, and two groups of higher education institutions – a regional group and a peer group. The working group then took the information they gathered and combined it with previously existing library services for DL and created a series of recommendations for further development. Throughout this process, one of their goals was to find a way to “enhance library services for a diverse DL student population without additional funding.” B. Reiten.

Northumbria University

Bailey, Pam, Glenda Cook, Elaine Thynne, Eunice Weatherhead, Sheila Glenn, and Angela Mitchell. “Distance Learning in Post-Qualifying Nurse Education at Northumbria University: Implications for the Role of the Library and Library Staff.” Health Information and Libraries Journal 21, no. 1 (March 2004): 66-69.
Northumbria University provides distance learning courses to nurses who are often returning to school after long gaps in their education. Using an action research approach, distance learning nursing students kept a diary of their experiences with their information needs. They filled out a questionnaire about their experiences and approaches with distance learning and participated in focus group interviews. Students indicated that access to electronic resources was important even though not all students used them. Some students were aware of their lack of computer skills. Due to difficulties with electronic communication, some students were interested in face-to-face contact with library staff. Many students remain unaware of all the resources available. The library staff needs to develop more printed and online material to assist students. The librarians note that working with students involved in the study helped close the gap between librarians and students. I. Frank.

Open University

Baker, Kirsty. “ENABLE – Open University Library Project Looks at Enabling Open Access for All.” Impact: Journal of the Career Development Group 4, no. 2 (March/April 2001): 24-25.
Following the launch of the Open University’s (OU) Open Libr@ry web-based library service, the ENABLE project was instituted. The goal of ENABLE is to ensure that the Open Libr@ry, as well as other OU services, is fully accessible to those with disabilities. Accessibility to all, especially those who have been somewhat alienated from traditional education, is an OU commitment. The ENABLE project will combine research outside of the university with user studies. B. Reiten.

Bradbury, David and Georgina Payne. “OPAL: Building a 24/7 Automated Online Enquiry Service for Open University Distance Learners.” ASSIGNation 19, no. 3 (April 2002): 36-39.
Open University is the largest UK distance learning institution educating over 200,000 students worldwide. To assist in providing reference or enquiry services to those students, in November of 2000 OPAL was developed. OPAL, or the Online Personal Academic Librarian, was created with several goals or objectives in mind. These included 24/7 access to answers, the ability to provide answers to routine or repeat questions, the capability of responding to natural language inquiries, and last of all, developers wanted a generic system that could be used in other libraries. The article describes the project and how the system functions during its first fourteen months of operation. The system has yet to be evaluated and assessed to determine its future direction. T. Summey.

Bradbury, David and Georgina Payne. “The OPAL Project: Developing an Online Digital Reference Service for Distance Learners.” Library Hi Tech News 18, no. 9 (October 2001): 28-29.
A project team from the Open University (OU) library and other partner institutions are in the initial planning phase of the OPAL project. The goal of this project is to create, initially, an automated system able to answer standard reference and technological questions. Eventually, they hope to build a system that can actually perform complex reference work by crawling through separate databases to answer in-depth research questions. This project is prompted in part by the realization that 50% of OU Library assistance inquiries are made outside of standard working hours. The authors are providing a “Research in Progress” report, with the promise of more information to come as the project progresses. B. Reiten.

Bremner, Alison. “Meeting the Information Needs of Distance Learners: The Open University’s Response.” Vine (London), no.122 (March 2001): 54-58.
The history, current status and future developments of the UK’s Open University (OU) Library are discussed. Initially developed to support institutional researchers and course writers, the OU Library in its early days was expressly not intended to serve students. Rather, students were expected to use course materials or nearby libraries for their information needs. The transformation of the OU Library into one that serves students is discussed. Developments such as the creation of a database of UK academic library access policies, access to online databases, ROUTES (a database of evaluated Internet resources), and other user support services are described. A 1999 survey revealed that many students were unaware of services available. Publicity efforts, as well as plans for future developments, are detailed. J. Markgraf.

Bremner, Alison. “Open University Students and Libraries Project 1999.” Library & Information Research News (LIRN) 24, no. 76 (Spring 2000): 26-38.
In an attempt to understand students’ information seeking and library usage habits, the Open University (OU) library’s Learner Support team created and administered a survey of both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Over 1,500 students were surveyed in the second stage of the Delphi study. For the first 20 years of its existence, OU offered no library services to students, instead supporting only the academic staff. In the early 1990’s, student demand led to the institution of library services for students. The OU library intends to use the survey results in the improvement of current services and the creation of new services. The author presents the second-stage survey questions along with graphs and discussions of the aggregated responses to each question. Contrary to one of the Learner Support team’s pre-survey assumptions, they found that undergraduate students needed and desired the support of the OU library as much as the postgraduate students. B. Reiten.

Clarke, Sarah. “Access to Electronic Journals for Distance Learners.” Vine (London), no. 110 (1999): 30-33.
As an addition to its growing services to students, the Open University (OU) Library is actively investigating electronic journals. At the time this article was written, there were still many obstacles to the provision of widespread access to these resources. The author discusses a number of these issues, including the availability of electronic journals, access questions, a widely dispersed user population, licensing, security and authentication issues, and subscription fees. The eventual goal for OU Library is to provide access for its students to as significant a collection of electronic journals as possible. B. Reiten.

Flett, Margaret. “Developing an Electronic Libr@ry. Open University, 26 March 2001. CoFHE Mid-West Circle.” CoFHE Bulletin, no. 93 (Summer 2001): 14-15.
The Open Libr@ry at the Open University (OU) is seen here through the eyes of an outsider who took part in a CoFHE Mid-West Circle seminar at OU. The focus of the daylong seminar was on the Open Libr@ry and the OU Library’s various other services for distance learners. One interesting point made is, that while many of the actual services provided aren’t unique, the scale of OU’s distance learning population (180,000 – 200,000 students) provides an excellent example for other institutions with growing distance learning populations. B. Reiten.

Ismail-Kaye, Nazira. “International Centre for Distance Learning (ICDL) and Services to Distance Learners.” Paper presented at the AAOU Pre-Conference Seminar on “Outreach Library Services for Distance Learners,” February 20, 2002, New Delhi, India. Online. Available:
The International Centre for Distance Learning (ICDL) is a centre for research, teaching, consultancy, information and publishing activities. It is based in the UK Open University’s Institute of Educational Technology. Three databases provided by ICDL are available to the public via the ICDL website. In one database a list and descriptions of providers/institutions offering distance learning programmes is provided. Another database contains descriptions of various distance leaning courses in the UK. The third database is focused on the literature surrounding distance education. A description of three projects that the ICDL is involved with is provided along with accompanying URLs. Finally, library services for the Open University’s Master of Arts (MA) in Open and Distance Education are outlined. The MA is offered online via the conferencing system FirstClass. Reference assistance and document delivery services can be obtained via an “Ask ICDL” icon within the conferencing system. J. Wheeler.

Love-Rodgers, Christine. “Electronic Resources for the Arts: Supporting Distance Learners at the Open University.” Art Libraries Journal 26, no. 3 (2001): 4-7.
While overall technical support for distance learners is found in the Learner Support area of the Open University’s library, subject responsibility still lies with the subject specialist librarians. In the past, the Arts library team primarily assisted the academic staff in the design and production of course documents. Now, their role has expanded to include the web site design of the Open Libr@ry and its components, as well as providing direct support to students and academic staff. The concept of “student specific design” has been incorporated within the Open Libr@ry web site, allowing information and technology skills teaching to occur in an organic way. The primary example chosen to support this idea is ROUTES, a database of Internet resources selected to support specific courses. B. Reiten.

Love-Rodgers, Christine. “Opening the Book: Developing e-Book Resources at the Open University Library.” Vine (London), no.125 (December 2001): 12-17.
Electronic books, or e-books, provide distance learners with new opportunities for research and study resources. Open University’s Library has developed an electronic library service to provide information resources to its distance education students. While this service offers databases and electronic journals, students began requesting electronic books be made available as well. In response, the library added resources such as Electronic Text Center, Project Gutenberg, Literature Online, and electronic versions of reference works to its database of web resources. To begin building a collection of e-books for its students, Open University Library purchased two collections of material from netLibrary. A general collection contains reference books and books on distance learning. The other collection supports the Religious Studies program and was selected with input from the academic department staff. The use of this collection will be monitored and evaluated over a one-year period to determine the effectiveness of this type of resource. Several issues to consider when evaluating the e-books and their use include how can text be printed, how can students find what e-books are available to them, and how can the text of the e-books be viewed. The library is looking at several ways to improve and upgrade e-book use and access to accommodate the needs of students and faculty. S. Heidenreich.

Needham, Gill. “Information Literacy – Who Needs It?” In Libraries Without Walls 5: The Distributed Delivery of Library and Information Services, edited by Peter Brophy, Shelagh Fisher, and Jenny Craven. London: Facet Publishing, 2004, 109-119.
The United Kingdom lags behind North America and Australia in acknowledging the need for information literacy, and there is a lack of nationally accepted definitions and guidelines in the area. The Open University’s information literacy course is a 12-week for-credit online course offered twice a year and can be taken as part of a degree program or as a stand-alone. The majority of the students that took the two courses offered in 2002 were women ranging in age from 30 to 59 with a broad range of educational qualifications. An examination was done of student expectations for the course and whether or not these expectations were met. A. Lawrence.

Needham, Gill. “Open University – Open Libr@ry: How the Open University Library in the UK Supports its Students.” Paper presented at the AAOU Pre-Conference Seminar on “Outreach Library Services for Distance Learners,” February 20, 2002, New Delhi, India. Online. Available:
The Open University (OU) in the United Kingdom serves over 185 000 students. In the past, the University provided the material needed to complete course work. As such, the OU’s Library mandate had been to provide support to academics in their course development. This changed in the 1990’s, and in 1996 the Library was given the challenge of providing library services to directly support students. In order to meet this challenge, the Library underwent an expansion in staff, and created a Learner Support Team (LST). LST surveyed students on their library needs. From this survey five key objectives were identified: investigate students’ needs, help students’ access local library resources, provide access to relevant content, help students develop skills, and provide support and guidance to students. A detailed description of how these objectives were met is provided. In particular, a number of initiatives surrounding helping students develop skills are described. These initiatives include online tutorials, information literacy assessment, embedding information literacy in to OU courses, and offering face-to-face training to academic. The options and challenges in providing reference support to students are also discussed. J. Wheeler.

Needham, Gill. “Reflections on Eating an Elephant (With Apologies to Vegetarians) at the Open University.” SCONUL Newsletter, no. 20 (Autumn 2000): 7-10.
“Eating an elephant” seems to be a rather apt analogy for the Open University Library’s development of its services to distance learners. The OU Library’s Learner Support Manager offers a three-year review of the steps taken to provide library services to over 180,000 distance students in this society newsletter article. One point emphasized is that part of OU Library’s success came from starting slowly, forming alliances in an area open to experimentation. B. Reiten.

Needham, Gill and Evelyn Simpson. “The Online Personal Academic Librarian (OPAL): A Virtual Librarian for a Virtual Student Community.” In Libraries Without Walls 4: The Delivery of Library Services to Distant Users, edited by Peter Brophy, Shelagh Fisher, and Zoë Clarke. London: Facet Publishing, 2002, 99-108.
The OPAL project is an ambitious plan being developed at the Open University (OU): “the development of an online, 24-hour, fully automated enquiry service capable of handling routine natural-language questions and providing a near-immediate response to the user.” The authors outline the five key stages of the project, giving details of how they have or will be dealing with each stage. To gain an understanding of the potential users and their interactions with any system, a series of experiments was held, involving 60 students in all. These experiments provided some interesting, and sometimes surprising, results that are being incorporated into every part of the OPAL prototype. B. Reiten.

Needham, Gill, Jo Parker, and Kirsty Baker. “Skills for Lifelong Learning at a Distance: Information Literacy at the Open University.” New Review of Libraries and Lifelong Learning 2 (2001): 67-77.
Following the creation of a number of online resources to support the distance learners at the Open University, accessible via the Open Libr@ry, it was discovered that the need for information literacy and skills training was just as strong as the need for access to library services. To focus on this need, an Information Literacy Unit (ILU) was created in 2001. The ILU is working on all aspects of information literacy, including promotion, curriculum integration, instruction, and resource development. They have rolled out a number of ambitious projects, but many of these are new enough to not have been evaluated as of yet. B. Reiten.

Needham, Gill, Una O’Sullivan, and Anne Ramsden. “ROUTES: A Virtual Collection of Resources for Open University Teachers and Students.” In Libraries Without Walls 3: The Delivery of Library Services to Distant Users, edited by Peter Brophy, Shelagh Fisher, and Zoë Clarke. London: Library Association Publishing, 2000, 115-120.
One of the centerpieces of the Open University’s Open Libr@ry is the ROUTES (Resources for Open University Teachers and Students) database. The development of ROUTES was a joint project, combining the subject specialists in the library with the academic course teams. The intent of the project was to provide proven quality Internet resources within the context of a given course. The authors provide a project overview, including the all-important goal of integrating ROUTES with the core work of the library. One unexpected, but not unwelcome, outcome of the project is the change in relationships between the library and academic staff, as both recognize the expertise of the other group. B. Reiten.

Parker, Jo. “Putting the Pieces Together: Information Literacy at The Open University.” Library Management 24, no. 4/5 (2003): 223-228.
Initiatives to teach information literacy skills at the Open University (OU) are described. The author advocates “total integration of information literacy into the curriculum” but acknowledges that in reality this approach is often unfeasible, and offers two alternative approaches developed at OU. SAFARI (Skills in Accessing, Finding and Reviewing Information) is a collection of interactive information literacy materials that have the flexibility to be used together or independently. MOSAIC (Making Sense of Information in the Connected Age) is a short credit course in information literacy. The author outlines the challenges in offering the credit course, such as accessibility, overcoming student feelings of isolation, and assessment. Unexpected benefits of the course, such as using it as a staff development tool and as an avenue to bring more library staff into contact with students, are highlighted. J. Markgraf.

Payne, Georgina and Michelle Perrott. “Librarians On Call: An Instant Messaging Enquiry Service for Open University Distance Learners.” Library & Information Research 27, no. 85 (Spring 2003): 11-21.
For three months in the spring of 2002, the authors participated in a pilot study of “Librarians On Call,” a service where library personnel answered questions from Open University students using online chat software. The project specifications called for software that did not require the user to download any applications to their computer and also fit within a limited budget. PagePerson Pro software was chosen due to features such as a user-friendly interface, access to statistics and archived sessions, pre- and post-chat surveys, page-push technology, customization, and the ability to transfer chat sessions. During the pilot period, 304 people used the Librarians On Call service, 172 submitting questions during live chat session and 132 via email. Users of the chat service were spread relatively evenly among various disciplines, and a significant number lived abroad. Even though half of the users (48%) had never used a chat service before, a large majority (78%) found Librarians On Call very easy to use, and most reported a better experience with the chat service than either telephone or email options. The authors also discuss the perceived benefits and problems of the chat-based reference system, while labeling it a success due to the continuation of the service beyond the pilot period. J. Brandt.

Payne, Georgina F. and David Bradbury. “An Automated Approach to Online Digital Reference: The Open University Library OPAL Project.” Program 36, no. 1 (2002): 5-12.
Online Personal Academic Librarian (OPAL) is an Open University research project looking at the development of a fully automated 24/7 online system designed to respond to routine and repeat enquiries from Open University’s distance learners. The article outlines the desk and field research conducted to date and the need for such an automated question-answer service. The current digital reference climate is discussed and a range of technologies are described, including the use of real-time technologies such as chat and Web contact software, and also the use of fully automated online conversational robots. Drawing on data collected through field research and data analysis of user e-mail enquiries, enquirer behavior and patterns are examined. Further research has also revealed the importance of the user’s context and the need for user profiling in delivering an appropriate response to the user. The authors conclude with a description of the OPAL prototype to date and look ahead to some possible future directions. F. Devlin.

Perrott, Michelle. “Open Libr@ry: The Open University Response to Supporting Distance Learners.” ASSIGNation 19, no. 3 (April 2002): 27-30.
The Open University at UK has up to 200,000 students worldwide. Mostly offering correspondence courses with integrated materials, the University initially felt that it was impractical to offer library services to these students. With the changes in distance learning, that initial belief needed to be changed. In 1998, Open University began to develop and establish library services for distance learning students. To assess needs, a survey was administered that assisted in service development. It was determined that to reach distance learning students, a separate web site should be developed in the spring of 2000, the Open Libr@ry website was launched. The article describes the services offered through Open Libr@ry and its future developments and directions. T. Summey.

Ramsden, Anne. “The OU Goes Digital.” Library + Information Update 2, no. 2 (Febrary 2003): 34-35.
As a part of a reexamination of its course production model, the Open University developed initiatives to increase the use of information technology and online learning resources. In response to these initiatives, a study of university academic staff was conducted. The results indicate a desire for more numerous and up-to-date library resources, to exploit new technologies to enhance library services, and to improve coordination between the library and course instructors. The author outlines library initiatives designed to meet these challenges, including development of personalized online library services, embedding e-resources into the curriculum, streamlining remote authentication to online resources, and developing 24/7 just-in-time support for library users. J. Brandt.

Ramsden, Anne, David Turpie, and Jonathan Rea. “Managing the Internet: Trying a New Tool.” Vine (London), no.124 (September 2001): 36-45.
The Open University Library in the UK developed a pilot project for a staff Intranet using Zope and the Content Management Framework (CMF) toolkit. The key Intranet issues were content management and sharing, easy workflow – from creation to publication of the content, defined roles for security and consistency of the content, storage and retrieval of information through metadata, and full-text search capabilities. Content and content mapping were the focus in designing the Intranet and staff ideas and working needs were taken into consideration. Despite the steep learning curve for the team and lack of documentation and training in UK, CMF still was a satisfactory choice as it proved to be a highly flexible set of tools for developing an information-sharing Intranet. M. Chakraborty.

Ramsden, Anne and Una O’Sullivan. “ROUTES: Creating a Tailored Learning Resource for Distance Learning Students at the Open University.” Program 33, no. 4 (October 1999): 339-346.
The Open University Library’s ROUTES (Resources for Open University Teachers and Students) database provides several benefits to the university and library. Not the least of which is the ability to create a grouping of quality, reviewed Internet sites for distance learners in support of their courses. In this paper, originally presented as part of the Microlib 99 conference, the authors offer a detailed look at the workings of the ROUTES project. This includes discussions of the ROADS (Resource Organization And Discovery in Subject-based services) system underpinning it and the importance of metadata to a project of this nature. B. Reiten.

Thomas, Judy and Vickie Arrowsmith. “Working in Partnership to Deliver an Innovative Pre-Registration Nursing Programme.” Health Information and Libraries Journal 19, no. 3 (September 2002): 161-163.
As an outcome of two UK government reports on healthcare practice, the Open University (OU) began offering a nursing programme for healthcare workers that would like to be nurses,. This program aims to encourage healthcare assistants to be reflective practitioners by applying theory and values and viewing the patient as a whole person. In response, the OU’s library service, Open Library, focused on providing access to bibliographic databases and electronic journals that would support the new programme. The librarians worked with the curriculum committee to incorporate increasing levels of information literacy and competency in the courses as the students progress through the programme. Open Library is addressing several issues: ensuring that students have basic IT skills to use Open Library, ensuring that all the electronic resources needed are available, and assessing the students’ information literacy skills. E. Onega.

Whitsed, Nicky. “In Support of Distance Learners: Some Developments at the Open University Library, Walton Hall.” LASERLink, Spring/Summer 2000, 6-8.
In a “state of the service” format, the director of the Open University Library provides a brief overview of their services to distance learners. The primary focus is on the two strategies being developed: the Learner Support Strategy, which involves direct contact between librarians, academics, and students; and the Interactive Open Learning Centre Strategy, which addresses “the role of library services in the development of multiple media products.” B. Reiten.

Sheffield Hallam University

Bye, Dan J. “Information Services for Distance Learners at Sheffield Hallam University.” ASSIGNation 19, no. 3 (April 2002): 31-32.
The Distance Learner Support Service, established in 1994, is briefly described in this article. Information regarding the staffing of the service is presented along with a description of the services offered by the unit to support distance learners. The services offered include: book loan and article delivery through the post or mail, electronic resources and a search service for those unable to access databases, the facilitation of access to other libraries and reference services. Since it has been discovered that the needs of “traditional” students and distance students are blurring, distance learning support services in the future may be offered as support for everyone. T. Summey.

Bye, Dan J. “The Distance Learner Support Service: Sheffield Hallam University.” In Library Services for Distance Learners: Proceedings of the Seminar at University of Surrey, 13th January 1999, edited by D. A. Lock. Guildford: Information Services, George Edwards Library, University of Surrey, 1999, 9-12.
A library’s responsibility to provide access to distance learners is comparable to that of providing physical access to students in wheelchairs, argues the author. Recognizing that although distance learning students are usually highly motivated, their retention rates are relatively low, the author outlines library services offered at Sheffield Hallam University that contribute to making the students feel like a part of the university. Among these efforts are designated campus contacts for distance learners, library database search capability, home delivery of books and articles, interlibrary loan service, established turnaround times for services, and a compilation of access policies at other UK libraries. J. Markgraf.

Donoghue, Angie. “VLE Information Adviser – What’s That?” SCONUL Newsletter, no. 27 (Winter 2002): 4-7. Also online. Available: (in pdf format)
The author was tapped to be (VLE) Virtual Learning Environment information advisor representing the learning centre information services within the Sheffield Hallam University’s institute on learning and teaching. Blackboard is the main courseware used for the entire university. The Learning and Teaching Institute (LTI) staff, along with other units on campus, address implementation, technical, copyright, and accessibility issues as well as other issues associated with the use of Blackboard and with e-learning in general. There is a link to the learning centre catalog from the Welcome screen of Blackboard. Library resources are integrated in other ways as well. The Learning Centre provides advice on available electronic resources and services. Faculty members are encouraged to include library-related resources in their courses. In addition they are taught how to link to these resources. In order to improve student information literacy competencies, the Learning Centre has embedded a tutorial, InfoQuest, within Blackboard. Resources and services are publicized through the Learning Centre and the Learning and Teaching Institute. In order to keep up with e-learning and library issues, the VLE Information Advisor attends conferences and workshops and reads material published through the JISC (the Joint Information Systems Committee). I. Frank.

Moore, Kay. “Embedding Information Skills in the Subject-Based Curriculum.” In Libraries Without Walls 5: The Distributed Delivery of Library and Information Services, edited by Peter Brophy, Shelagh Fisher, and Jenny Craven. London: Facet Publishing, 2004, 79-86.
Sheffield Hallam University developed an information skills tutorial called InfoQuest, consisting of five modules. InfoQuest has a basic generic framework which can be customized easily at specified points so that subject specific concepts, resources, and activities can be introduced. Although it took two years and much staff time and effort to create the tutorial, the goal to offer a skills program that was timely, relevant, and engaging to the students was met. Since its generic base remains the same, new subject specific customizations can be made whenever needed. A. Lawrence.

University of Birmingham

Jenkins, Ruth. “Supporting E-learning at the University of Birmingham.” SCONUL Newsletter, no. 25 (Spring 2002): 53-56. Also online. Available: (in pdf format)
Collaborative efforts among librarians, tutors and Information Services (IS) staff in supporting WebCT courses at the University of Birmingham are described. Liaison librarians work with tutors to incorporate electronic journal articles, textbooks, databases and other information resources into online courses. While collaboration currently relies on the initiative of the individual librarians and tutors, the author recognizes that such an approach is not readily scalable. As the number of e-learning courses grows, it will be increasingly difficult to continue with the one-on-one efforts and a more systematic and automated process in the future is desired. The author also recognizes the need for a more user-centered approach to presenting the library’s suite of services to e-learners. In an effort to learn more about the e-learning landscape and address the challenges, the author and her e-learning colleagues are participating as e-learners in a WebCT course entitled “E-learning in Higher Education.” J. Markgraf.

Kent, Tracy. “Information Services Support for Distance and Part-Time Learners at the University of Birmingham.” New Review of Libraries and Lifelong Learning 2 (2001): 115-134.
Recognizing that traditional library services weren’t serving distance students well, the University of Birmingham Information Services set out to develop services that would help fill the gap. They created a new set of services that were first made available to students in the School of Education in a pilot study. The services were postal loans, remote photocopying, and remote literature searching. When the results of the pilot study appeared to be positive, the decision was made to open the services up to all schools. The author summarizes the services and the evaluations performed during the first full year of open participation. A number of their findings relate to seemingly non-library things, such as publicity and campus accounting methods. B. Reiten.

University of Central Lancashire

Hilton, Judith. “VALNOW – Providing Services to Off-Campus Users at the University of Central Lancashire.” CoFHE Bulletin, no. 90 (Summer 2000): 14-16.
As they are preparing to move into a pilot program extending services to distance learners, the Head of Distributed Services at the University of Central Lancashire (UCL) Library offers an overview of their existing virtual library, VALNOW. UCL partners with seven Associate Colleges to offer franchised courses in those regions. VALNOW (Virtual Academic Library of the North West) has operated in a similar fashion to many distance learning support programs, except the College libraries have been the clients, rather than individuals. Going into the pilot, UCL Library hopes only a few changes will need to be made to their existing services to meet the new challenges. B. Reiten.

Livesey, Suzanne and Peter Wynne. “Extending the Hybrid Library to Students on Franchised Courses; User Profile, Service Implementation Issues and Management Strategies.” Library Management 22, no. 1/2 (2001): 21-25.
The franchised student – one who takes courses franchised from one institution by another – has many similarities with distance learners. The best solution to library support for both would be a hybrid library, one that “seeks to integrate print and electronic material within a seamless interface.” The University of Central Lancashire (UCL) recently implemented HyLiFe (Hybrid Library of the Future) alongside its pre-existing VALNOW service. The authors discuss the user profiles of franchised and distance students, HyLiFe service implementation issues, and service management strategies. B. Reiten.

University of Leicester

Guinea, Janet. “Targeting Library Services for Distance Learners at the University of Leicester.” ASSIGNation 19, no. 3 (April 2002): 17-19.
In September of 1999, the University of Leicester created the Distance Learning Unit to support the research and course needs of distance learning students. The University has over 7,000 distance learning students worldwide and is very diverse with many different experiences and needs. In order to effectively reach these students the library designed a portal that serves as a gateway to library resources and services. The author describes modifications to the library catalog, along with document delivery options and how students are tracked and statistics gathered on the use of the services. Since the students were used to finding information on their own, the University has used targeted E-mails to promote the services available to the distance learning students. T. Summey.

Hinton, Danielle and Lou McGill. “Chat to a Librarian: 21st Century Reference for Distance Learners.” Vine (London), no.122 (March 2001): 59-64.
When the Library of the University of Leicester established a Distance Learning Unit its staff examined several forms of electronic communication to support the program. In October 2000 chat was chosen as the method to use to answer questions about services and resources submitted by distance education students. After testing several chat software programs, HumanClick was selected to provide immediate, real time assistance from librarians. Chat icons were placed on appropriate Web pages along with tracking HTML code. With HumanClick librarians can receive information about the user to help provide more effective service. This includes information such as IP address and host information, browser and version, a history of pages visited and time spent on each page, and transcripts of any previous chats. There is a privacy policy in force and elements of it are outlined. A number of issues related to HumanClick are discussed including the cost, staffing, complexity of questions, training, and technical difficulties. A transcript of a sample chat is provided. S. Heidenreich.

Keeble, Heather and Louise McGill. “Guerrillas in the Mist: Breaking Through Boundaries to Provide a First-Class Remote Library Service.” Serials 17, no. 1 (March 2004): 19-24.
Guerilla librarians are those who take a “proactive role within academic environments,” according to the authors, and they describe their efforts to do just that in serving distance learners at the University of Leicester. Working from the premise that all students are diverse, the authors advocate a departure from standardized approaches to providing service in favor of flexible and creative approaches that address the unique needs and circumstances of each student, and emphasize equitable rather than equal service. One recommended strategy is the development of a Distance Learning library team comprising multi-skilled members who, through a single point of contact for the student, can solve a multi-faceted problem without having to refer a student to several library staff members, each of whom have a specific area of expertise. The authors also emphasize the importance of addressing the library’s image on campus, advocating a proactive role for librarians in course and program development and in defining their role as teachers rather than trainers. J. Markgraf.

McGill, Lou. “Global Chat: Web-Based Enquiries at the University of Leicester.” In Libraries Without Walls 4: The Delivery of Library Services to Distant Users, edited by Peter Brophy, Shelagh Fisher, and Zoë Clarke. London: Facet Publishing, 2002, 87-98.
In fall 2001, the University of Leicester Library Distance Learning Unit (DLU) ran a three-month trial of the Human Click chat software. The decision to trial a chat reference system was based on a number of factors, not the least of which is that the DLU’s research has shown that their students prefer having access to several different methods for contacting them. Some of the advantages to chat are that the user doesn’t have to disconnect from the Internet to use it, and it is synchronous. The author provides a summary of the preliminary decision-making process, as well as a detailed analysis of the trial. The DLU is re-evaluating their results and the available software, having discovered that their needs are broader than originally realized. B. Reiten.

McGill, Lou. “Measure for Measure: Using Statistics to Monitor Service Take-Up of the University of Leicester Library’s Distance Learning Unit.” Library & Information Research News 26, no. 82 (Spring 2002): 16-25.
In 1999, the University of Leicester Library established a new Distance Learning Unit to serve the needs of over 6,000 distance learning students. The Unit needed to demonstrate the value and effectiveness of its service in order to secure funding beyond the initial three-year funding period. Accordingly, a comprehensive procedure was established to record transactions which included both manual and computer-generate data. Statistics were collected to aid library management, provide information to academic departments and for broader University management. The quantitative data revealed a significant growth in all service areas and qualitative feedback was very positive. There have been several positive outcomes as a result of collecting this information and staff remain highly committed to collecting this data. F. Devlin.

McGill, Lou. “Any Which Way You Can: Providing Information Literacy to Distance Learners.” New Review of Libraries and Lifelong Learning 2 (2001): 95-113.
The University of Leicester’s Library created a Distance Learning Unit in 1999 to provide focused services to distance learning students. The author who leads the Unit provides a summary of the challenges they are trying to meet, as well as the methods they are using to meet those challenges. One key point is that librarians need to not only recognize the existence of various learning styles, but must learn to provide information skills training utilizing different styles; the “one size fits all” session truly won’t work in the distance learning arena. To be able to reach all distance learning students, academic staff buy-in and support is vital. The changing relationship between the Distance Learning Unit and the academic staff is also detailed. B. Reiten.

McGill, Lou and Brian Marshall. “Information Skills Support for Distance Learners.” In Seven Pillars of Wisdom?: Good Practice in Information Skills Development: Proceedings of a Conference held at the University of Warwick on 6-7 July 2000, edited by Sheila Corrall and Helen Hathaway. London: SCONUL, 2000, 89-90.
The report describes a workshop at the conference, led by Lou McGill and Brian Marshall, on information skills support for distance learners available at the University of Leicester. IT and non-IT solutions to distance learning problems were discussed by the group. Leicester’s future plans involve utilizing IT in more imaginative ways to help students, such as using e-mail as a user education tool and establishing a chat reference desk. F. Devlin.

University of London

Chambers, Sally and Paul McLaughlin. “University of London – Virtual Campus Project. Information Resources for Distance Learners: The Implementation of a Model.” In Libraries Without Walls 4: The Delivery of Library Services to Distant Users, edited by Peter Brophy, Shelagh Fisher, and Zoë Clarke. London: Facet Publishing, 2002, 29-39.
The University of London has begun a period of development and reformulation in its Extended Campus offerings. A large part of this is the development of a Virtual Campus, mirroring on campus offerings as much as possible. One of the core services to be developed within the Virtual Campus Project is the Virtual Library Service (VLS). The authors provide a project overview using the first program, the Law Program, as a case study to integrate the VLS. Since the VLS is being developed as part of a larger campus endeavor, the integration of library services with coursework is happening from the outset. B. Reiten.

University of Reading

Cipkin, Christopher. “Using a Virtual Learning Environment to Integrate Information Skills into the Curriculum: A Subject Librarian’s Experiences.” SCONUL Newsletter, no. 27 (Winter 2002): 7-10. Also online. Available: (in pdf format)
As a librarian and the music subject specialist, the author describes using Blackboard to develop four units on library and information skills for first and third year musicology students at the University of Reading. With the success of this initiative, the music program now includes library and information technology skills as stated learning outcomes. The course material and worksheets for assignments are on Blackboard. Assignments include developing an annotated bibliography, accessing and critiquing material found via online databases and websites, and preparing a literature review. Handouts with access and support information were distributed in the students’ first face-to-face class meeting. Most students managed to complete the material with little intervention, though some students did contact the library for help. Anecdotal feedback indicates that both the students and their academic tutors were pleased with the course. I. Frank.

University of Sheffield

Cowan, Barbara. “Vigorous Engagement: Distance Learners, Learner Support and Libraries.” In Networked Lifelong Learning: Innovative Approaches to Education & Training Through the Internet: Proceedings of the 1998 International Conference held at the University of Sheffield, edited by Sheena Banks, Celia Graebner, and David McConnell. Sheffield: University of Sheffield, 1998, 2.1-2.9.
The results and implications of two University of Sheffield surveys dealing with library service for distance and online learners are presented. One survey addressed the provision of core reading materials for online courses, comparing the advantages and disadvantages of providing recommended readings electronically or via mail study packs. The second survey attempted to get a current snapshot of library support for distance learners in Britain. Among the issues discussed are document delivery, reference assistance, remote access, user education, computing skills training, reciprocal library arrangements, and future directions in library support for distance learners. J. Markgraf.

University of Sunderland

McDonald, Andrew. “The Human Factors in Developing Electronic Library Services.” In [Proceedings of the] ICDE Librarians’ Roundtable, 11-12 October, 1999, The Open University of Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Open University of Hong Kong, 1999, 34-40. ERIC ED 438 832. Also online. Available: (in pdf format)
For electronic libraries to be successful, we need to adopt new or different organizational and managerial cultures. These human factors involved in creating electronic libraries are what interest the author, Director of Information Services at the University of Sunderland. As many libraries have discovered by trial and error, the development of hybrid libraries has led to a need for librarians with a blend of qualities, able to function in both the analog and digital worlds. In addition to the librarians themselves, the changes needed in the organizational and managerial cultures will have effects upon the parent institution, the library’s service culture and values, and library users and suppliers. Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, the author also provides a sample position specification for a digital librarian. B. Reiten.

McDonald, Andrew. “New Library Services for Distance and Lifelong Learners at the University of Sunderland, United Kingdom.” In [Proceedings of the] ICDE Librarians’ Roundtable, 11-12 October, 1999, The Open University of Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Open University of Hong Kong, 1999, 14-15. ERIC ED 438 832. Also online. Available: (in pdf format)
In his presentation at the ICDE Librarians’ Roundtable, the Director of Information Services at the University of Sunderland presents the new services the library has created for distance learners, along with some goals for the future. In addition, he discusses the present and future of the Libraries Access Sunderland Scheme (LASh). In this collaboration, all who live, work, or study in Sunderland have access to the University library, all public libraries, and the four learning centers belonging to Sunderland’s Further Education College. This access extends to remote access to a citywide electronic library. B. Reiten.

McDonald, Andrew. “Supporting Distance Learners.” Keynote paper presented at the AAOU Pre-Conference Seminar on “Outreach Library Services for Distance Learners,” February 20, 2002, New Delhi, India. Available online (in pdf format)
A discussion of what constitutes “distance learning” is undertaken at the beginning of this paper. This discussion is then put into the context of the University of Sutherland (UofS). Approximately 1,000 students at the UofS are classified as distance learners and the number is increasing. Along with this, the UofS is recognized in the United Kingdom as being a leader in attracting students from diverse socio-economic levels. The distance library services at the UofS are outlined, along with the challenges facing the Library in developing appropriate library support for this group of users. Students surveyed on library services suggested that more or better of the following was needed: marketing of services, assistance in using the services, technical support, local library support, and electronic databases. As well, some students expressed interest in an overseas textbook loan service. Finally, other factors in developing successful services are discussed. These factors include following national guidelines (if available), influencing university managers, working closely with academic colleagues, ensuring services are sustainable and affordable, changing the culture of the library, and collaborating with other libraries. J. Wheeler.

Stevenson, Christine. “Distance No Object: Bridging the Library and Information Gap for Distance Learners.” SCONUL Newsletter, no. 28 (Spring 2003): 8-11. Also online. Available: (in pdf format)
The author describes her work supporting distance learners that is ongoing since the first distance learning courses were offered in 1998 at the University of Sunderland. Based on their reading of a survey done in 1998, librarians recognized that distance learners were required to use library resources in order to successfully complete their course work. Users were interested in getting help to find relevant library and internet-based resources and access to local library services. In response, the library provides services such as online library registration, reference support, document delivery, access to online full text resources, mediated literature searching, and access to local libraries. Information skills training also emerged as an important need. The library is developing and delivering information skills training using WebCT. This strategy is useful for on-campus students as well as distance learners. As a result of this work on behalf of distance learners, the author received the Robinson Award from CILIP, the Chartered Institution of Library and Information Professionals. I. Frank.

Stevenson, Christine. “Information Skills for Distance Learners.” Library + Information Update 2, no. 4 (April 2003): 48-49.
Since 1998, librarians at the University of Sunderland have provided services to distance learners, including many overseas students who never visit the main campus. After collaborating with academic staff in developing course content, the library’s portfolio of online services included reference service, document delivery services, access to databases and journals, mediated searching, and access to local libraries. Analysis of a survey of distance learning students identified top library priorities to be support of students’ information skills through seminars, assistance with database and Internet searching, development of more electronic services, and improved access to local libraries. A discussion of the library’s response describes the development of an information skills support section of the website and an accredited WebCT-based module. J. Brandt.

University of Surrey

Downham, Gill. “Meeting the Needs of Distance Learners at the University of Surrey: DILIS.” ASSIGNation 19, no. 3 (April 2002): 20-22.
Initially established as a pilot project, the Distance Learners Information Services (DiLIS) at the University of Surrey has become an integral part of the library services offered by the university. The author describes the department and it work along with the services offered to the over 1,500 distance learning students associated with the university. The services used most often include the Postal Loan Service and Article Requests. In the upcoming year the Library will be evaluating the service and seeking feedback in order to assess the department and its work. T. Summey.

Fulcher, Glenn and Debbie Lock. “Distance Education: The Future of Library and Information Services Requirements.” Distance Education 20, no. 2 (1999): 313-329.
Distance learning systems can be placed in various locations along four continua: contact hours (from none to local groups), personal support (from minimal to extensive), use of technology (from none to high), and time (from open to structured). Courses at the University of Surrey can fall anywhere within these parameters, creating complex library support issues. Following extensive research, both via the available literature and surveys of current distance learning students, the library developed the Distance Learner’s Information Service (DiLIS). DiLIS is providing a range of services and evaluating those services throughout a 12-month pilot. Using a theoretical base, as well as case studies within the English Language Institute at the University of Surrey, the authors discuss the role of library support for distance learning as it stands now and where it is likely to go in the near future. B. Reiten.

Fulcher, Glenn. “Library and Information Services Requirements: A Course Developers Perspective.” In Library Services for Distance Learners: Proceedings of the Seminar at University of Surrey, 13th January 1999, edited by D. A. Lock. Guildford: Information Services, George Edwards Library, University of Surrey, 1999, 3-8.
Distance learning programs with no onsite equivalent, no required face-to-face contact, and students dispersed among 42 countries pose challenges for those providing library services. The University of Surrey’s experiences in providing support for two such programs are described. The author discusses the transformation of the library’s role from the provider of “course packets” to that of teacher of information literacy or “information tutor.” Those providing library services to students of diverse technological capabilities and resources are cautioned to be cognizant of and responsive to the increasing disparity in access to information. J. Markgraf.

Lock, Debbie and Jennifer Nordon. “Hybrid Librarians and Distance Learners: The Fact Controllers?” New Review of Libraries and Lifelong Learning 1 (2000): 155-172.
Are we truly hybrid librarians yet? Or, as asserted by the authors, are we still the “missing interoperability link” that keeps us in the center of things as the fact controllers? The University of Surrey Library’s Distance Learners’ Information Service (DiLIS) project provides the framework for this largely theoretical discussion of the current and future states of distance learning librarianship. The DiLIS project was established to determine the specific needs of distance learners and to create those services deemed feasible. After an initial pilot study, the services and DiLIS itself have been integrated into the mainstream of library services at the University of Surrey. B. Reiten.

Lock, Debbie and Jennifer Nordon. “The DiLIS Project at the University of Surrey.” In Library Services for Distance Learners: Proceedings of the Seminar at University of Surrey, 13th January 1999, edited by D. A. Lock. Guildford: Information Services, George Edwards Library, University of Surrey, 1999, 13-22.
The George Edwards Library at the University of Surrey conducted a survey to ascertain the information needs and resources requirements of its distance education students. A 12 month pilot project, Distance Learners’ Information Services (DiLIS), was established to address the following areas: a written library policy, a postal loan service, a document delivery service, a staffed help line, a literature searching service, a Internet based information service, and user education programs. The initial DiLIS project used post-graduate students, in various locations around the world, studying in four subject areas. The goals of the project were to test new and modified services, to assess the costs of these services, and to develop a service that could be made available university wide. A web site for DiLIS was established to provide students with an information gateway to resources and library and information skills programs. A number of challenges have arisen during the project and will need to be addressed. These include copyright issues, agreements with other libraries to support the students, and authentication problems related to accessing electronic journals and databases from remote locations. A table provides service standards and performance measurements for postal loan service, document delivery service, help-line service, information skills training, and literature searching. Also included is a sample Service Agreement drafted for the DiLIS project. S. Heidenreich.

University of the Highlands and Islands

Mackay, Mary. “Collaboration and Liaison: The Importance of Developing Working Partnerships in the Provision of Networked Hybrid Services to Lifelong Learners in Rural Areas.” Library Management 22, no. 8/9 (2001): 411-415.
The article reviews the implications and challenges for management and staff at the University of the Highlands and Islands Millennium Institute (UHIMI) as they strive to implement changes which will support students studying courses in remote, rural communities who previously had little or no library support. The author reflects on the findings of a project that undertook to provide access to networked hybrid resources to their distance students. Increased interaction and partnerships played an important role in the successful implementation of networked learning resources in a distributed environment. The article focuses on the need for increased interaction between all sites and staff involved in the implementation and provision of networked resources: senior management, academic staff, lecturers, technical and library staff and the increased use of technology to facilitate this. Implications for staff development and training in a distributed networked environment such as the UHIMI are also examined. F. Devlin.

Mackay, Mary. “The Provision of Networked Access to Hybrid Resources at Small or Remote Sites.” Library Management 22, no. 1/2 (2001): 26-29.
The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) has the responsibility for providing educational access to those living in some of Scotland’s most remote areas. Partnering with thirteen colleges within those areas, they are testing the HyLiFe Project (Hybrid Library of the Future). Central to the provision of educational support is the creation of purpose-built learning centers throughout the region. These centers serve as the technological connections in the UHI/Scottish Telecom wide area network, allowing remote students access to training rooms, computers, videoconferencing, and web access. The author discusses the services provided for print and electronic resources, as well as looking forward to a national network of learning centers. B. Reiten.