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Talis Aspire

If I Could Read Your Mind … Simple Collection Management for University Libraries

Stephen J. Belcourt

Between professors, adjunct professors, and other teaching staff, the number of people involved in the classroom side of post-secondary education can number in the thousands, per institution. 

Each of these subject-matter experts have different approaches to teaching and nuanced perspectives on their respective disciplines.   They all also determine which materials to share with students, and at which stage of their classwork.

The library, in a separate silo, strives to ensure that all of these types of resources are available when needed, either through purchase, borrowing, or working with faculty and instructional designers to maximize the use of current library investments, and to capitalize on new materials such as Open Educational Resources. 

If only the library had a clear line-of-sight across campus – they could help redirect certain choices, or ensure that others are provisioned to avoid turn-aways and frustrated students. 

Happily, Resource List Management Systems (RLMS), like the platform-neutral Talis Aspire, provide exactly that scope of insight into the instructional materials being used and proposed – across campus. 

As each instructor populates the websites, readings, videos, textbooks, and other materials making up their Resource List for a particular course, they are offered insight into whether their selected items are part of the existing library collection, so that they can be gently nudged to prefer those options as appropriate. 

This does not preclude adding non-library materials to a resource list. The Talis Aspire bookmarklet and browser extension are able to capture metadata from over 400 sites, including Discovery Services, journal platforms, Amazon, YouTube, and other sources. 

Once a list has been populated, structured according to the instructor’s pedagogical approach, and is ready for sharing with students, it can also be queued up in the Review section of Talis Aspire for library oversight.

The Review module provides libraries with a campus-wide perspective on the materials being used/proposed in all classes -in one place. Interpreting this data can lead to evidence-informed collection development – deciding which materials to acquire, based on lists which are essentially the aggregate of instructors’ wishlists. Alternatively, librarians can update faculty regarding availability of similar items, or point them to digitized versions of the materials when appropriate under copyright/license limitations. 

The inherent ability for faculty to notate their items for students is supplemented by an ability to also create private and confidential information notation for the library’s purposes.  In this screen-shot, both the Note for student and Note for library can be seen on the right side:

Instructors can designate whether an item is core, peripheral, background, etc., thereby giving the library additional guidance on the extent of provisioning needed to ensure student satisfaction.

Frequently, an item is used in multiple classes. Occasionally, new classes are added without the library being advised that an additional cohort will also need access to this item.  The Review section helps libraries manage these changes by tracking the number of students associated with each class, and summarizing the potential audience-size for each item being reviewed.  

Budgets matter too, and the Review section connects directly with a number of potential sourcing sites, giving libraries one-click access to their preferred purchase platform. For shared catalogues, the system indicates nearby libraries who may be able to supply a copy.

Having these decision-supporting criteria at hand streamlines the process and ensures that the library’s investments are maximized across campus. 

To learn more about Talis Aspire, or to schedule a demo, please click here. 

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