Milligan Libraries links to Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library

Milligan Libraries has created a link to Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library from our website homepage. The National Emergency Library was launched to support student learning at home, as schools and libraries have been forced to closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the over 2.5 million openly available public domain texts that reside on Internet Archive’s servers, the National Emergency Library contains over 1.4 million digitized books that are still under copyright protection—including nearly 480,000 titles published since 2000.

The National Emergency Library is built on Internet Archive’s Open Library, which makes single copies of books in this collection available to be borrowed for a 14-day checkout period. As an analogy to a physical book that gets checked out from a physical library, a checked out book is not available for anyone else to borrow until the copy is “returned.” Persons wanting a book that is checked out must join a waitlist.

What Internet Archive has done for this national emergency is suspend the waitlist limitation until at least June 30, 2020. This effectively means that there are now an unlimited number of copies for each book in the collection. Here is a screenshot of the National Emergency Library’s homepage:

Borrowing books is a simple process. Search for titles, authors, or subjects from the search box in the left sidebar. When you find a book of interest, click the “Borrow” button under the book cover. This brings up the Internet Archive book viewer and bibliographic record information. Initially, the viewer shows you a limited preview. You need to create a user account to actually borrow the book.

Once your account is created, log in, and click the “Borrow” button on any book to borrow it for 14 days. The book can be read in the browser viewer online, or downloaded as an encrypted PDF or EPUB and read offline using Adobe Digital Editions on your computer or mobile device (Internet Archive provides prompts for setting up offline reading). When you are finished with the book you can click a “Return” button, or just allow the time to expire. Downloaded files also expire after 14 days. This is an important safeguard against unauthorized duplication and distribution of these otherwise copyrighted books.

Internet Archive has been getting some pushback from authors and publishers about whether suspending the waitlist (much less the very notion of the Open Library) is legal from a copyright standpoint (see for example, recent stories here and here). Conversely, numerous educational institutions, libraries, and individuals have issued a public statement endorsing Internet Archive’s action during this time, noting that Internet Archive has taken steps to restrict unlawful redistribution, and stating: “These actions will support emergency remote teaching, research activities, independent scholarship, and intellectual stimulation while universities, schools, training centers, and libraries are closed.” Milligan Libraries supports this mission and will continue to host the link to the National Emergency Library, though we will also follow any developments in this story.

Own a piece of Milligan Library history!

How do you go about finding a book in the Welshimer or Emmanuel Seminary Library? If you are like most Milligan College or Seminary students or faculty today, the answer is obvious: you fire up your computer, launch your web browser and point it to the Milligan Libraries website, pull down the “Resources” menu, select “Books/Media Catalog” and then select “Milligan & Libraries Worldwide” to launch the online catalog. Search for the title. If we have the book in print or electronic (ebook) format, the record will pop up in your search results. The record will show you where the book can be found (library and call number location), and it even tells you if the book is currently available.

The card catalog

This wasn’t always the case, however. If you can believe it, once upon a time book records were typed on physical 3 x 5 inch cardboard cards (Title, Author/Editor, and Subject cards were created for each book) which were then arranged in wooden cabinets, collectively called the card catalog.

Here is a card that instructed students and faculty on the use of the card catalog.

The Holloway Archives at Milligan College, located in the basement of the Welshimer Library, still has one of the library’s old card catalog cabinets.

The Milligan College Library used a physical card catalog until the first online catalog went into service in the Fall of 1995. As it happens, the library was at the forefront of implementing computer technology on campus. The library implemented its first computerized library management system in 1988. Of course this was before the internet was (commonly) a thing, and the system was not networked. In a Stampede editorial from March 1988, then library director Steven Preston noted that the library system was used to print catalog cards.

In 1992, a collaboration between Milligan College, Emory & Henry College, King College (now King University), and (since closed) Virginia Intermont College resulted in the receipt of a 5-year United States Department of Education Title III grant that would be used to computerize the library catalog and create a barcode checkout system. Also during this time the Milligan College IT Department was installing fiber optic cable to create a campus-wide computer network that would be connected to the internet. Of interest, in an article from the September 30, 1992 issue of the Stampede, Steven Preston mused that “in the future, students and faculty will be able to link into the [library] system from their rooms and offices.” A Stampede article from May 3, 1996 covering Spring Board of Trustees meetings made specific reference to the newly implemented online catalog when it reported “[library] information is now easier to find due to the computerization of the card catalogs.”

What to do with all those card catalog record cards?

The transition from a physical card catalog to a computerized online catalog was a labor intensive process, as all the library’s catalog records needed to be translated into computer readable format. This process was outsourced to a company called Western Library Network (WLN) utilizing our card catalog record cards. The long and the short of this process was that after the records were computerized, boxes and boxes of catalog cards were returned to us to dispose of, or use as we saw fit. Since the old record cards were only printed on a single side, what ended up happening was that they were used around the library as scrap note cards. Ironically, a common use was that students or faculty would search the online catalog for a book and write the book’s call number on an old card catalog record card before heading to the stacks.

The library had so many boxes of these cards that it seemed as though they would last forever. But as it turns out, we recently reduced our backlog to a single box. We started to put the cards out next to the catalog computer as usual. But it then occurred to us that these cards were a part of Milligan Library history — a history we wanted to share with our users. So we’ve put this box at the Circulation Desk of Welshimer Library. Come by and take a card or two as a memento — a piece of Milligan Library history for you to own. But don’t wait too long. When they’re gone, they’re gone.

Belated Report: Therapy Dog visits and January Escape from Welshimer event

As I write, we’re at the end of the fifth week of Spring Semester 2020. What?! Seems like the semester just got started! Before the time totally gets away from me I was reminded to report on two recent events at Welshimer Library — therapy dog visits during Fall 2019 Finals Week, and the Escape from Welshimer event held in late January.

Local therapy dogs and their owners have been visiting Milligan students at Welshimer Library every semester during Finals Week since Fall 2013 to provide much needed stress relief. (We’ve also had kittens visit off and on in the past thanks to the efforts of Occupational Therapy students.) This last Fall semester, we had visits from Burton and his owner, former Milligan Biology professor Julie Wade, and Will with his owner, Mr. Bill Powley. Both Burton and Will are Golden Retrievers that are trained and certified as therapy dogs. Thanks so much Burton and Will for spending time with our students. We look forward to seeing you again in the Spring!

In January 2019, we held the first Escape from Welshimer event designed by Research and Instruction Librarian Mary Jackson to teach Milligan students, faculty, and their families about the library. The event was such a great success that we decided to run it again this year on Friday evening, January 24. Turn-out was not as great this year, but it was every bit as fun.

Participants were divided into teams that were variously tasked with solving a series of puzzles on topics from the 1970s, 80s, or 90s using clues located in the physical library and on the Milligan Libraries website. Librarians were on hand to offer a hint or two. Solving the puzzles enabled team members to unlock a treasure chest that was filled with small prizes. Though mildly competitive in terms of which team could finish first, every team and every team member was declared a winner once they successfully unlocked their chest, and were awarded with a large candy treat.

The library hasn’t decided yet whether to make Escape from Welshimer an on-going annual event, but January seems like an ideal time. I’m certain it will return in some form.

Speaking of annual events at Milligan Libraries, stay tuned later today for the announcement of the winner of our 9th Annual February Madness Library Pen Tournament, and be on the lookout for details of our 10th Anniversary Edible Books Festival coming in early April.


Fall Semester 2019 is finished, and Milligan Libraries logs new headcount records!

Emmanuel Christian Seminary became part of Milligan College on July 1, 2015. Since that time, Milligan Libraries has existed as one library in two locations — the Welshimer Library at the center of campus, and the Seminary Library in west wing of the B.D. Phillips Building on Emmanuel Hill.

P.H. Welshimer Memorial Library

The Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan Library

As locations for physical book and media collections, Welshimer Library houses the bulk of resources to support the College’s undergraduate and professional graduate degree programs, while the Seminary Library primarily houses a theological collection supporting the Seminary’s graduate programs (and the undergraduate Bible and Ministry program). This collections perspective might seem to guide students and faculty in their choice of a “home” library location. But these days libraries are more than collections. Milligan Libraries also strongly promotes a spaces and services perspective in which either library location is a welcoming “home” for all Milligan students and faculty to use for study and learning. This has become especially true at the Seminary Library, where in addition to the Seminary, the B.D. Phillips Building hosts the undergraduate Engineering program, and the graduate Occupational Therapy and Physician Assistant programs.

Like most libraries, Milligan Libraries tracks space usage at its two locations. But instead of counting people as they enter the library (called a gate count) we developed a metric called the hour-visit. The hour-visit is a headcount of every person in the library each hour that it is open during the day. The advantage of this way of counting is that it enables us to track not only when, but also where (which floor) and for how long the library is used with each visit. For example, when a student enters the library, a gate count would log 1 visit at entry. But that student may be in the library studying for 3 hours. The headcount approach would log 3 hour-visits for this student. Additionally, when correlated with Milligan College enrollment headcounts, we can track average per student usage of the Library over the course of the semester.

New Semester Headcount Records Set

Fall Semester 2019 concluded with Commencement Service on Friday evening, December 13. Earlier in the day we collated the library usage statistics for the semester, discovering we had set several new records.

Welshimer Library had 38,080 hour-visits (+6.1% over Fall 2018). The previous record of 37,002 hour-visits was set Fall 2013.

Seminary Library broke 10,000 hour-visits with 10,589 (+27.4% over Fall 2018). The previous record of 9,513 hour-visits was set Spring 2019.

Milligan Libraries’ combined usage for Fall 2019 was 48,669 hour-visits. When correlated with Fall 2019 College enrollment headcount of 1,335, this works out to a per student library use of 36.5 hours over the course of the semester. Also a new record.

For some historical perspective, Fall 2016 was the first full semester after Emmanuel Christian Seminary became a part of Milligan College. This was also the first semester we began tracking usage at the Seminary Library. In Fall 2016, Welshimer Library had 30,716 hour-visits and the Seminary Library had 4,518 hour-visits, for a Milligan Libraries total of 35,234 hour-visits. Milligan College enrollment headcounts in Fall 2016 was 1,213, which worked out to a per student library use of 29.0 hours. Compared to four years ago, Milligan Libraries’ combined hourly usage has increased 38.1%, and the per student semester usage has increased 25.9%!

These statistics suggest Milligan Libraries is providing spaces conducive to study for the Milligan College learning community. We are pleased to be of service!

7th Annual Book+ART exhibit brings out the artist, the poet, the theologian, the historian, and the social critic

Book+ART invites Milligan College students, faculty, and staff to think about books not only as the inspiration for art, but also as the literal medium for art. The annual exhibit, held at the Welshimer Library over Homecoming Weekend, is celebrating its seventh year.

“Several years ago,” explains Director of Libraries, Gary Daught, “we developed two annual book-related creativity events as ways to enhance engagement with our user community. We began, about 10 years ago now, with the Edible Books Festival, which is held in Spring semester and closely coincides with the International Edible Book Festival. A few years later, we thought it would be neat to have a Fall semester event that would serve as the other bookend, so to speak, to Edible Books. We tapped into a renewed and growing interest in art made from books as a natural focus of this second annual event. Thus Book+ART was born.”

In this year’s Book+ART exhibit 12 entries from eight individual book artists (three entries were submitted anonymously), and one entry from a class group were submitted. Entries include blackout book poetry, cut out books, book sculpture, decoupage, bookmark design, and a compelling topical book exhibit. Five entries were from Milligan Libraries librarians Katie Banks, Gary Daught, and Jude Morrissey. Two entries were submitted by Psychology professor Joy Drinnon, and two entries by student Korynne Taylor. The group entry was submitted by students Dalton Davis, Megan Kent, and Michelle Morales from Drs. Joy Drinnon and Ted Thomas’ Psychology and History of Genocide class. As the title of the post suggests, the exhibit covers a wide range of disciplines and topics. This year’s Book+ART exhibit opened on Friday, October 25 and will remain open until Friday, November 1.

Following are photos of entries from this year’s exhibit.