2.9 Learning Resources and Services

The institution, through ownership or formal arrangements or agreements, provides and supports student and faculty access and user privileges to adequate library collections and services and to other learning/information resources consistent with the degrees offered. Collections, resources, and services are sufficient to support all its educational, research, and public service programs.

Judgment of Compliance

PVAMU SACS Accreditation - Judgement Compliance

Narrative of Compliance

The John B. Coleman Library and its partners have as their mission "to provide resources and instructional material in support of the evolving curriculum, as a partner in Prairie View A&M University's mission of teaching, research, and service" and to support the University's core values of "access and quality, diversity, leadership, relevance, and social responsibility" through emphasis on ten key areas of service [1]. It maintains library collections and access both on campus and through local agreements to further the educational goals of students and faculty.

Campus Collections and Access

The John B. Coleman Library is a modern, 149,095 square feet, five-floor building [2]. The Library is physically and philosophically at the center of the campus, centrally located, within easy walking distance of the dormitories and classroom buildings. The resources and services of the library contribute to the intellectual and cultural development of the university by supporting faculty, staff, students, visiting scholars, and others in pursuing divisional, departmental, curriculum, administrative, and scholarly goals. Specifically, the Library supports the University mission of being dedicated "to excellence in teaching, research and service" and "expanding advanced educational offerings" by supporting all degree programs through Library collections and instruction.

The current collection is over 370,000 volumes, including more than 700 print periodical titles, 700,000 microforms, and 3,000 audiovisual materials that are catalogued in the Voyager Online Public Access Catalog [3]. It provides online access to over 30,000 electronic books and 85 full-text databases across all academic disciplines, including more than 36,000 electronic serials [3] [4]. With the assistance of a student library fee ($14 per semester credit hour in Spring 2009), the Library adds to its holdings continuously, with approximately an 8% increase in both books and microforms from 2002 to 2006, for example [5]. Additions occur under the Collection Development Policy, revised in 2006 and again in 2008, in consultation with faculty and with careful consideration of multiple factors [6]. Enhancing holdings in subject areas in which the University offers graduate programs has been a special focus; in FY 2007, there was a 158% increase in volumes related to Educational Leadership, a 101% increase in volumes related to Juvenile Justice, and a 17% increase in the number of volumes related to Electrical Engineering [7].

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Prairie View holds 50.26 books, serial back files, and other paper materials per person enrolled, which compares favorably with the state and national medians [8]. The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), in its latest Standards for College Libraries, however, suggests that points of comparison be determined by means of ratios [9]. For purposes of this analysis, Prairie View was compared to three peer groups, one consisting of in-state peer schools (University of Texas Pan-American, Lamar, West Texas A&M, Tarleton State, Stephen F. Austin, TAMU International and TAMU Corpus Christi), out-of-state peer schools (Jackson State University, NC Central, Arkansas State, Morgan State and University of Central Missouri) and comparable 1890’s schools (Fort Valley State, South Carolina State, NC A&T, Virginia State, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Delaware State, Tennessee State, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, FAMU, West Virginia State, Alabama A&M, Langston University, Lincoln University, Kentucky State, Alcorn State and Tuskegee State). In this analysis, the number of books, serial back files and other paper materials, as well as audiovisual materials, are low compared to these institutions, yet the John B. Coleman Library is substantially ahead in serial subscriptions and compares well in microform holdings [10].

One reason for the low number of hard-copy holdings is the Library's focus on expanding subscriptions to electronic databases and other online resources. These give faculty year-round access to high-quality materials for their own research as well as a variety of options for "incorporating research-based experiences in both undergraduate and graduate students' academic development," per the University Mission [11]. The emphasis on electronic resources especially promotes the University's Core Value of relevance by helping to create "highly literate, technologically competent graduates educated to excel in the 21st century work force" [12] and serves the growing number of commuter and distance learning students. Also, since students report in User Satisfaction Surveys that they prefer to conduct research between 5pm and 2am on weekdays, times during which the library sometimes is closed, having a rich online collection meets their needs [13] [14].

To assist patrons in accessing these collections, information about the library and its services is provided at several public service contact points in the Library, including the Reference Desk, Circulation Desk, the Periodicals Desk, and the Information Desk, as well as on the extensive Library Website. The Library is fully automated and maintains a fully integrated library technology system to support all operations and technical services. Reserve materials, audio-visual media, and equipment are available at Circulation, and since February 5, 2009, students have had access to equipment for scanning, faxing, and typing [15]. In addition to housing a second-floor Student Computer Center for Information Technology Services, the library provides 21 computer workstations near the Reference Desk for patron use, a high-speed self-service printer next to Circulation, and wireless Internet service throughout the building for patrons with their own computers.

In addition to the circulating and electronic materials, the John B. Coleman Library includes special collections and archives for use by students, faculty, and visiting scholars, under the guidance of the University Archivist. They include the Wilhemina Delco Collection [16], the Hyman Collection [17], the Prairie View Interscholastic League Collection [18], the King Collection, the Tatum Collection, the Cooperative Extension Papers and Records, a Rare Books Collection, Blacks in the Military, Black Heritage of the West, the T.K. Lawless Collection, the Barack Obama Special Collection, and several thousand historic photos [19]. The John B. Coleman Library also serves as a partial Federal Document Depository and holds close to 2,500 government documents, with electronic access to many titles [20]. In the first and fourth floor art galleries, the Library features work by photographers, artists, and sculptors [21]. Finally, the archives include official records of campus meetings, minutes of meetings of the Board of Regents, campus publications (newspapers, yearbooks, catalogs), masters' theses, dissertations, and historic photos of University activities.

Access to these Library holdings and collections is provided during hours that are sensitive to the academic calendar. During regular semesters, the hours of operation are Monday through Thursday 7am-midnight, Friday and Saturday 8am-5pm, and Sunday 1pm-midnight. During the week before finals and during finals, the library stays open Monday through Thursday 7am-2am, Friday and Saturday 8am-9pm, and Sunday 1pm-2am. In summer, the library maintains the hours of Monday through Thursday 8am-9pm, Friday and Saturday 8am-5pm (closed Sundays). The library is open 95 hours in a typical week.

At all hours, all Prairie View students, faculty and staff are able to access the databases remotely by connecting to the Library website via computer and signing into the university network [22]. Since June 1, 2004, the contractor SunGard Collegis, Inc., has supervised Information Technology Services, which maintains three student computing labs on the main campus. Room 210 of the Coleman Library contains 122 Dell workstations, the lab in the Willie M. Tempton Memorial Student Center contains 24 Gateway workstations, and a small lab in Farrell Hall provides computer access on the far west end of campus. Most labs are open between 9 and 17 hours per day, as shown by the lab hours from Fall 2007 and Fall 2008 [23] [24]. Additional computer labs are maintained in campus housing and by various departments. Students can receive technical support through the Information Desk in the labs or by calling the IT Help Desk.

Another service provided around the clock is course reserves. In May 2007 the library began using ERes Electronic Reserves to streamline the reserve process and make materials available to multiple users at all times. Faculty now request that articles be placed on reserve in an electronic format, in accordance with all copyright and intellectual property laws, for students to download and print on their own time [25].

For materials not available on the Prairie View A&M campus or in its databases, Interlibrary Loan service (ILL) is provided. Requests for ILL services are received in person, by telephone, email, fax, and by electronic access by the Circulation Department staff and processed through the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) and single-interface ILLiad system that was implemented during Spring 2008. While loan request materials are available as hard copy, they are also available in online format. Hundreds of requests, both in loaning and borrowing, are filled each year [26].

The Library also participates in local and statewide "resources sharing consortia" that offer reciprocal borrowing privileges through the Circulation Department. Since September 23, 1983, Prairie View A&M has been a member of Amigos Library Services, which offers group discounts on database subscriptions and streamlined Inter-Library Loan (ILL) procedures. Each year, hundreds of resources are shipped and received through the Trans-Amigo Express (TAE) courier service [27]. The Library also belongs to the Houston Area Research Library Consortium (HARLiC), which represents eight major research libraries in the Houston area [28]. Furthermore, the University Library participates in TexShare, a program of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in partnership with academic and public libraries in Texas. The TexShare Card Program is a reciprocal borrowing program that allows registered users of participating TexShare libraries to obtain a card to borrow materials directly from other participating libraries, particularly local county branches and nearby universities. In 2001-2002, Prairie View A&M issued 349 such cards and in the 2006-2007 academic year, 266 TexShare cards were issued and 30 Library items were circulated through the program [29].

The John B. Coleman Library also responds to the needs of the faculty and students of PVAMU by assigning a "library liaison" to each academic department and offering extensive instruction services [30]. The Library Instruction program is provided on the main campus by the Reference Department, whose mission is to "provide an organized collection of print and online resources and teach Information Literacy skills regarding the access and usage of both on and off campus information services to the Prairie View community to enable them to become information literate, independent researchers" [31]. In addition to tours, the Instruction program arranges hands-on sessions built around specific assignments for entire classes and maintains online materials for research and citation [31]. Finally, the Library offers a drop-in program called "Make Time for Research," where students can speak with a librarian about finding resources for course assignments [32]. Further details about library instruction are available in Comprehensive Standard 3.8.2.

Specialized libraries exist for the Undergraduate Medical Academy (UMA) and students majoring in music in the Department of Music and Drama, and professional librarians supervise both facilities. The UMA library collection includes 55 hard copies of journals in the medical field that are not available in the Coleman Library and just over 1,100 circulating and reference books. Multiple computer workstations are available for students to access online resources. UMA library hours are Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm. The Music Library holds over 800 CDs, 300 cassette tapes, 7000 albums, 500 printed musical scores, 400 books, and 800 journals, many procured through alumni donations. Students and faculty also can use seven listening stations and portable DVD players. The on-site librarian also supervises digitization of music files for availability in the ERes electronic reserves system. Hours vary, especially because the Music librarian also teaches a course, but in spring 2009, the Music Library was open Mondays and Fridays 8am-1pm and 2-5pm; Tuesdays 8-9:30am, 12-1pm, and 3-5pm; Wednesdays 8-10am and 2-5pm; and Thursdays 8am-1pm and 3-5pm.

Distance Learning Collections and Access

Prairie View A&M University seeks to provide learning opportunities to students who are geographically bound by employment, family or other responsibilities that make distance and satellite campuses more convenient. The Library's goal is to provide the equivalent of resources and services currently available to on-campus users to off-campus users, and to this end, personnel work closely with the Prairie View A&M University Office of Distance Education and have cooperative support from the computer technology staff at the Northwest Center. The institution either directly through the John B. Coleman Library and/or through reciprocal agreements with other local libraries provides distance library services for programs at the following five locations:

  • College of Business programs and Graduate programs in Education at Lone Star College—Cy-Fair in Cypress, Texas
  • Graduate programs at the Northwest Center in Spring, Texas
  • Graduate programs at the University Center in the Woodlands, Texas
  • College of Nursing, Houston Medical Center
  • College of Nursing, College Station, Texas (via the Trans-Texas Video Network / TTVN)

Distance-learning graduate programs were offered in Dallas, Texas, but ceased in 2006 at the Paul Quinn Campus and in October, 2008, at the Dallas Urban League and at the Cedar Hill Center. The College of Nursing site at Huntsville Memorial Hospital also has closed.

To serve off-campus sites and distance learning courses, John B. Coleman Library has consistently broadened its resources and services. The Library provides a dedicated Web portal at for distance library services for faculty and students, who can use their Prairie View identification cards to access Prairie View's library databases. Services at all current distance education locations include remote reference service by email, telephone, and fax; email requests for interlibrary loans and book purchases; area library borrowing through TexShare and convenient access to applications on the distance library portal; electronic user guides on the Library's webpage; on-site reference and instructional services provided by Elizabeth Brumfield, Distance Library Services Librarian at the Northwest Center, and by Gayle Lindsay, Program Librarian at the College of Nursing; and remote access to the Library online catalog, databases, and electronic reserves [33].

To facilitate remote access of library materials, students at each distance-learning site have access to computing facilities as follows:

  • Over 180 first and second floor computer workstations at the 78,000 square foot Harris County Public Library branch at Lone Star College—Cy-Fair, open 81 hours per week during regular semesters [34]
  • Two student labs at the Northwest Center, with 8 computer workstations in the small lab (Room 160A) and 24 computer workstations in the large lab (Room 160B), open 40 hours per week during regular semesters [35]
  • 68 computer workstations at the Library and Learning Resource Center on the third floor of the University Center, open 68 hours per week during regular semesters [36]
  • Two 9th-floor student computing labs and a laptop program at the College of Nursing, which gives a personal computer to each student [37]
  • Student laptop program for College of Nursing students at the College Station site

Students at some sites have access to additional collections as well. Lone Star College has a full public library branch with 128, 416 books and other materials (as of 2007) that students can check out by using TexShare cards. The Northwest Center graduate reading room holds approximately 500 items, with emphasis on books and videos on counseling and education appropriate for the student population studying for the Masters in Educational Leadership and the Masters in Counseling and 5 print journal subscriptions. Finally, students enrolled in the College of Nursing are provided library service through the Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center. The HAM-TMC Library serves as the South Central Regional Medical Library (RML), a competitive designation that has been retained by the Library since 1991. Currently, the HAM-TMC Library contains 76,500 square feet of space, over 330,000 book and journal volumes, and subscriptions to 150 electronic databases and over 8,000 electronic journals. Classes, orientation sessions, online guides for individual databases, and consultations with HAM-TMC librarians are available to all nursing students, along with reduced rates for mediated searches, photocopies and interlibrary loans [38]. This library is open approximately 99 hours per week: Monday-Thursday 7am-10pm, Friday 7am-9pm, Saturday 9am-5pm, and Sunday 1-8pm [39].

A final indicator of the adequacy of the library collections and services comes from regular assessment. Annual surveys of library users have shown that the collections and services provided by the John B. Coleman Library are seen both as valuable and sufficient. 90% or more of the respondents in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 ranked the library either as "very important" or "extremely important" and over 80% of library users were "usually satisfied or "very satisfied overall" with the Library during the same time periods [40].

Supporting Documentation and Links

Core Requirements 2.9

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