UW Libraries Blog

May 22, 2020

Libraries Superheroes: Procuring eBooks for UW Students

UW Libraries

Tadoku bookshelf

The Tadoku bookshelf in the Tateuchi East Asia Library

As faculty across campus raced to prepare for spring quarter, there were many concerns over how classes could be conducted without access to the Libraries. For example, Izumi Matsuda, a senior lecturer in Asian Language and Literature, was considering not offering her Tadoku class because of its reliance on the physical books available in the Tateuchi East Asia Library.

“My course was scheduled to meet every week in the Library, where we had access to over 400 physical books on the Tadoku Bookshelf,” said Matsuda.”  I wasn’t sure how we would be able to facilitate this class in an online learning environment, but the Tateuchi East Asia Library staff made it possible to offer the course as scheduled.”

“the Tateuchi East Asia Library staff made it possible to offer the course as scheduled.”

Lucky for these students and faculty, Japanese Studies Librarian Azusa Tanaka was already on it.  Azusa anticipated this need and began researching options immediately. Her quick actions and conscientious focus ensured that this popular class remained on the schedule.

Historically, certain types of Japanese eBook options are limited, especially when it comes to academic titles. In fact, there were only 55 eBook titles that were suitable for the Tadoku course. But that didn’t stop Azusa and the Tateuchi East Asia Library (TEAL) team from going the extra mile to procure the full order of requested books for this class. After an extensive search, Azusa and Saori Tachibana, an acquisition specialist, helped rush-order 51 eBooks available for purchase.  However, they wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this heroic feat without the work the planning and negotiating the Libraries had done BEFORE COVID-19.  Earlier in the year, Faye Christenberry, the UW Libraries Collection Strategy and Licensing Librarian, worked miracles with the vendors to create new eBook license agreements—without her work, none of the new eBooks would have been ready on time for remote learning.

But Azusa and team didn’t stop there. They continued their search for open-source materials, locating an additional 272 titles to meet and exceed the class goal of 200 books. For students to access these books, they had to be catalogued first. Ebook cataloging requires more advanced skills than typical cataloging. So when the pandemic hit, TEAL’s Chinese Cataloging and Metadata Librarian, Jian P. Lee, changed up the training schedule to teach these critical skills and ramp up training for Keiko Hill, a new Japanese Cataloger/Tateuchi East Asia Library Serials & Electronic Resources Librarian. Keiko quickly learned the procedures and successfully cataloged all of the purchased eBooks by the second week of the spring quarter. Amazing!

They continued their search for open-source materials, locating an additional 272 titles to meet and exceed the class goal of 200 books.

It is nearly impossible for even a seasoned cataloger to catalog so many eBooks in a few days—so while Keiko cataloged, Azusa wanted to provide a way for students to view/access books immediately. Rather than just copy all the titles into an excel spreadsheet (the easiest solution), she thought about it from the students’ point-of-view. She knew seeing the books visually would help to encourage more reading, so she took the extra step of copying 378 individual books (information and book cover images, when available)  into her LibGuide page, which was completed two days before the quarter began. Azusa’s student assistants also helped to save the day—one working in Seattle, and another working remotely from Tokyo. Two students from both sides of the Pacific worked tirelessly for a week straight to achieve this amazing feat of Librarianship!

“I attended the first session of the Tadoku class to explore the LibGuide page with the students. I was very happy to see the students reading the books from the Guide with curious eyes.” – Azusa Tanaka, Japanese Studies Librarian

But there are more Libraries superheroes in this story who helped save the day, even after spring quarter started, and not all of them were Librarians.  When one of the eBook platforms’ remote access was not functioning, Mike Reynolds from Libraries ITS quickly figured out the complex technical issue and corrected it so students could continue to access the eBooks from home.

They trained staff before the pandemic so they could jump right in to use the platform, which has been an essential tool during this crisis.

Christine Tawatao, head of Libraries web services and UW librarian Dan Mandeville, Nordic Studies & Linguistics Librarian helped many of our librarians to maintain and develop their LibGuide pages. They trained staff before the pandemic so they could jump right in to use the platform, which has been an essential tool during this crisis. Corey Murata and the entire collections team are constantly working on new e-resources: databases, electronic platforms purchasing, and subscriptions. Heather Spence from the Libraries financial office helps pay the invoices (note: Remote learning cost more than $100,000 in unplanned Libraries expenses to support remote teaching and learning this quarter.)*

Whether it’s a resource from TEAL, or any of our 16 UW Libraries, providing one eBook takes a team of Libraries superheroes!

*If you would like to support the Libraries COVID-19 Emerging Needs Fund, you can make a contribution HERE.

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