May I Help You? How Ekstrom Responds, Analyzes and Acts on Your Questions

By Matt Goldberg, Head, Access and User Services

Have you ever stopped at a desk in Ekstrom Library to ask a question, such as: Do you have any copies of Dan Brown’s new book? Where’s the bathroom? What time does the library close? If you have, our desk staff have carefully recorded the question and answer so that we can determine trends in patron needs and service requests in an effort to improve how our library operates.

Using a program called Gimlet, the Access and User Services Department (AUS) records every question and answer asked at the west, east, and technology desks, and this data is reviewed weekly by departmental staff. Beyond looking to make sure our staff is giving correct information, we do significant work to refine, manipulate, and extrapolate the hundreds of questions asked per week.

Gimlet word cloud

The collection of these questions is quite labor-intensive, thanks to the frequency of questions asked by patrons. From June 2015 to May 2016, there were nearly 32,000 questions asked at the desks, an average of more than 2,600 per month, or about 90 per day. Each question is tagged by the desk staff to group them into easily sortable categories (internal directions, policy, technology, research, etc.) so that we can go back and look for data trends.

You might wonder how we use these trends to make decisions. For instance, in early 2015, we noticed that there were an abnormally high number of printing and copying questions being handled by desk staff at the east and west desks. To alleviate this we opened the technology desk in the computer commons to give students more direct technology help. In another instance, high levels of directional questions have led to improved signage across the building to help patrons find what they are looking for with more visual cues.

We routinely examine trends in the data to examine our own processes and policies. Last semester we opened the east side of the building until 2 a.m., a move that was fueled by a combination of student suggestions, gate count data, and Gimlet numbers that showed students in the building later in the evening than usual. We periodically run visualization reports of the data to see how users are asking their questions, producing word clouds like the one above.

So the next time you ask a question in Ekstrom, just know, we are listening and always looking to be of better assistance!

Experiencing the March on Frankfort

Through photographs by Robert Doherty and James N. Keen

March 5, 1964

Crowd with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at head

Crowd gathers with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at head for the March on Frankfort. Photo by James N. Keen

On March 5, 1964, close to 10,000 people from in and around Kentucky gathered at the state capitol for a peaceful civil rights demonstration which has become known as The March on Frankfort, one in a series of civil rights marches lead by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Allied Organization for Civil Rights (AOCR) coordinated this effort. Among its members were Officers Frank Stanley, Jr., editor of The Louisville Defender; Dr. Olof Anderson, Synod Executive of the Presbyterian Church; and a young Georgia Davis Powers. Powers, who later became the first African American and the first woman to be elected to the Kentucky State Senate in 1967, states this was the beginning of her civil rights activism.

Olof Anderson, Jackie Robinson, Georgia Powers & Lawrence Montgomery. Photo by James N. Keen

Olof Anderson, Jackie Robinson, Georgia Powers & Lawrence Montgomery. Photo by James N. Keen

Key speakers were Ralph Stanley, Jr.; the Rev. Dr. D. E. King, pastor of Zion Baptist Church in Louisville from 1946 until 1963; The Rev. Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, Martin Luther King, Jr’s close associate and friend; Jackie Robinson, major league baseball legend who broke the color barrier; and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Folk singers and civil rights activists Peter, Paul and Mary performed.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks to the crowd. Photo by Robert Doherty.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks to the crowd. Photo by Robert Doherty.

Robert Doherty founded the University of Louisville Photographic Archives while a professor in the Allen R. Hite Art Institute. Also an active photographer, Doherty documented Louisville scenes, political rallies and events, prominent Louisvillians, and important visitors to the city. His photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Louisville and at the 1964 march on Frankfort have frequently appeared in print. In 2010 Doherty received a Doctor of Fine Arts honoris causa degree from the University of Louisville.

James N. Keen was a photographer for the Chattanooga News, Dayton Journal-Herald, Associated Press, Acme Newspictures, and for twenty-six years, with the Louisville Courier-Journal and Louisville Times. His work appeared in Life and U.S. Camera Annual, and he won numerous national awards for photojournalism. His subjects include celebrities such as Martha Graham and Orville Wright, as well as political figures including Winston Churchill and several presidents. Keen also photographed local landmarks events such as the Kentucky Derby.

Frank Stanley, Jr., Jackie Robinson, Dr. King, Governor Breathitt meeting after the March. Photo by James N. Keen.

Frank Stanley, Jr., Jackie Robinson, Dr. King, Governor Breathitt meeting after the March. Photo by James N. Keen.

Governor Breathitt fought hard for the public accommodations bill. And although it was unsuccessful in 1964, in 1966 the Kentucky General Assembly passed the Kentucky Civil Rights Act. Dr. King called it “the strongest and most comprehensive civil rights bill passed by a Southern state.” The law prohibits discrimination in employment and public accommodations and empowers cities to enact local laws against housing discrimination. [A Kentucky Civil Rights Timeline,]

See the exhibit in the Photographic Archives Gallery, Lower Level Ekstrom Library, University of Louisville. Open Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

UofL Football in Photographs


UofL football players MacFarlane and LaFramboise.

After such a sweet victory at the Sugar Bowl I thought it would be fun to take a look at the UofL football photographs we have. Looking through the historic UofL photographs  some of my favorite pictures are action shots like this one from the 1960s with Tom LaFramboise (#14) blocking for Al MacFarlane (#33) during a game. Other great shots show cheerleaders, the University of Louisville Marching Band, and mascots.

While I love the historical photos I’m equally excited about a collaboration with UofL’s official photographer, Tom Fougerousse, which will bring more recent University photographs into the Digital Collections. He has taken some amazing shots which are available at the University of Louisville Flickr page. By adding the images to the University Libraries’ Digital Collections they will be preserved for the future with information about the events.

One of the great aspects of the University of Louisville Images collection is the input we receive from the community. UofL alums have helped us provide more information about these past events. The image above, for example, was originally posted without the players’ names, but a sharp-eyed viewer recognized the players and sent in their names. Now the players are identified and can be found by interested fans.

UofL Libraries joins The Internet Archive

Libraries exist to preserve society’s cultural artifacts and to provide access to them. If libraries are to continue to foster education and scholarship in this era of digital technology, it’s essential for them to extend those functions into the digital world.” – The Internet Archive

Earlier this year, the University of Louisville Libraries began digitizing and adding texts to our very own corner of The Internet Archive, a nonprofit internet library which provides free, permanent access to digital collections from all over the world. Several of the items we’ve added so far are souvenir booklets containing some wonderful photographs of the city of Louisville from the early 20th century.

Other items include biographies and histories of industries in Kentucky, including one of our most downloaded items to date, Fine Whisky Facts compiled by George C. Buchanan.

The books UofL Libraries have uploaded to The Internet Archive can be viewed in several formats including online, on a Kindle e-reader device, downloaded as a PDF file, etc. UofL’s contributions were scanned and assigned metadata by Sarah Frankel and MARC cataloging records were created by Tyler Goldberg.

UofL’s 1,000 Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Last month, the University of Louisville Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) collection reached and surpassed 1,000 titles!

The 1,000th ETD was authored by Daniel Baumann, a recent graduate of the Speed School of Engineering, Department of Bioengineering for his thesis, “Effect of Flow on Human Endothelial Cell and Dermal Cell Growth Rates Supplemented with Drug Infused Media.”

The UofL Libraries are thrilled that what started as a small project in 2002 has grown to a collection of over 1,000 titles. The Libraries have seen an amazing growth in recent years due to an increase in participation from UofL’s graduate students. For the May 2011 graduates, the ETD program’s participation rate was around 87%. For future graduates, the UofL Libraries hope to increase participation to 100%.

We also have appreciated a boost in participation thanks to a mention in the University of Louisville magazine (Summer 2012 edition, p. 39) which put a call out to U of L alumni to give their permission for us to digitize and add these titles to our ETD collection. As the distributed statement noted, electronic documents are more easily accessed by other scholars than print versions.

If you are reading this blog post and this is the first time you have heard of ETDs or you are a UofL Master’s or Ph. D. graduate interested in submitting your work to this digital collection, please visit our about page where you can find out more information about the collection and UofL’s “Nonexclusive License” which can be mailed or submitted electronically.

Parkway Field images and other university landmarks

During a recent conversation about my job, a friend asked me if 1) it was possible to order images from the collections, and 2) if we had images of Parkway Field. He remembered visiting Parkway Field as a child for baseball games and wanted a photo of it. The answer to both of these questions is Yes.

Within the Digital Collections, there are 10 images with the subject heading of Parkway Field (Louisville, Ky.) Many of these are in the collection University of Louisville Images, which focuses on the university and its history.

Parkway Field, 1950s

A football schedule posted on a wall at Parkway Field, 1950s

Ordering procedures for reproductions depend on which library or library department holds the original. Each record contains a field identifying the Digital Publisher and a field with Ordering Information, generally a link to the policies, possible fees, and contact information. Contact the Digital Publisher for the details about specific images.

The UofL ETD Collection

Did you know that the University of Louisville Libraries have a digital collection of over 700 theses and dissertations from U of L graduates, ranging from the current year all the way back to the early 1900s?

Well, we do. It is called the University of Louisville Electronic Theses & Dissertations!

Since 2002, we have been building a collection of color digital copies of theses and dissertations that were written by U of L students. This effort was inspired by an international trend of institutions migrating to electronic theses and dissertations in order to provide free worldwide access to these titles and to enable graduate students to include digital media in their works.

The collection covers a broad range of topics from the fields of art, engineering, medicine, dentistry, history, education, politics, theater, social work, and many more. We also have several titles in our collection in which the author earned a joint degree with U of L from either the University of Kentucky or Western Kentucky University.

I have been working with this collection since 2004 and it has been quite an experience watching it grow over the years. It is my hope that more and more graduates will choose to participate in this free service that gives their work more visibility through the World Wide Web.

For more information, frequently asked questions, statistics about the collection, and to find out how your work can become part of this collection, click here.