University Libraries, that quiet refuge of students on the bustling University of New Mexico campus, is quickly evolving. It has a new name, College of University Libraries and Learning Science (UL&LS) and an expanded mission. Walk in the doors of any of the four main campus libraries and you can still find a peaceful place to work without interruption. But underneath the calm, the libraries are humming.
“UL&LS celebrated the acquisition of our three millionth volume this spring, but we are no longer defined by printed pages,” said Martha Bedard, dean of UL&LS. “We house recordings of folk music, architectural drawings, filmed documentaries, digitized newspapers and electronic books. The library is a repository of human knowledge in many forms and we offer our students the opportunity to learn in many different ways.”
UL&LS now houses one of the largest graduate programs at UNM. The Organization, Information & Learning Sciences (OI&LS) program offers courses to students often already employed in the workforce. Much of the coursework is done online and ranges from data management to measuring performance in the workplace. Library courses in information management, metadata and others are part of the program and help students understand how successfully Managing “big data” can increase their effectiveness in the workplace.
UL&LS is also an active partner in a major research effort, DataONE, that is searching out and finding ways to put “orphan data” online in a usable way for researchers. In the past while the results of research funded by the U.S. government were published, the raw data the researchers accumulated lived and died on their own computers. DataONE is funded by the National Science Foundation and is helping researchers organize, format and store data for future use. Librarians are uniquely qualified to help in this new category of information.
UL&LS has four locations on the UNM main campus. Zimmerman Library, which houses collections for education, humanities and social services along with the Center for Southwest Research & Special Collection and government documents collection, will celebrate its 75th anniversary this fall. The others are Parish Memorial Library, Centennial Science & Engineering Library, and Fine Arts & Design Library. Each library supports specific disciplines within the UNM system.
UL&LS is the only university library in the country with this unusual combination of missions, and the opportunity for graduate students to incorporate their research in organizational learning and data management into the workplace is unique.