New system in library makes research harder


As a Marriott Library patron, I’m writing to second retired librarian Raymond Daoust’s frustration with the library’s Automated Retrieval Center (“Innovation replaces service,” Nov. 19).

Last week, my research took me to a journal article available online, which cited another article relevant to my project. The cited article was not available online, so I had to track down the library’s physical copy of the article’s journal volume, which meant I had to request the specific volume from ARC. Unfortunately, after waiting 15 minutes for my request to arrive, I did not find the article I needed in the journal volume. The online article in which I found the citation attributed the cited article to the wrong journal volume number. Luckily, the online article did correctly cite the year in which the other article was published, and from that information, I was able to correctly guess the right volume number and make another request. Of course, this request also took 15 minutes to process.

In the end, I wasted nearly an hour between waiting for both requests, walking back and forth between the computer lab and the Reserve Desk and navigating the computerized request system. And had I been unlucky in my guess at the correct volume number, I would have wasted even more time. By contrast, had the volumes of the journal I needed been available for my own browsing, I could have dealt with the confusion in less than five minutes, simply by putting the incorrect volume back on its shelf and picking up the correct volume next to it myself.

In the larger scheme of things, an hour of my time is not much. Also, I realize that storage space in the library is not unlimited and that my own research project is not the library’s only priority. And, to be fair, the problem was not entirely caused by ARC. Part of the blame for my lost time has to lie with the online article that provided an incorrect citation. Nevertheless, the ARC is not a convenience for library users, and considered in and of itself, it is not an improvement for us.

Spencer Wall,

Graduate Student, English