Library assesses resources, SUMMIT system

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Students who have used the SUMMIT system at the library are familiar with the wide variety of materials it allows them to acquire. Spanning many libraries throughout the area, it allows those who use a specific library to have materials shipped to them so the benefits of multiple institutions can be enjoyed. It is with this in mind that the library is attempting to bring an ever-increasing variety of materials to its patrons’ fingertips.

“The project is called the Threshold of Three pilot and is a collaborative effort of our consortium, the Orbis Cascade Alliance,” said University Librarian Marita Kunkel. “It is a one-year pilot and is being evaluated now. All member libraries of the consortium can participate in this pilot, but participation is voluntary.”

For years, the library has encouraged its patrons to consider the SUMMIT system as a single collection of books and other materials, any of which could be quickly available upon request (usually within five days). The program continues to build on this idea, coordinating the resources of many libraries.

“The Threshold of Three pilot is testing the need to buy duplicate copies of a book if three copies of that book are already available in the consortium via SUMMIT,” said Kunkel.  “Can we buy fewer duplicate copies of a book and thus free up funds to purchase other materials that will increase the depth and breadth of the Orbis Cascade Alliance collection?”

To illustrate the kind of dilemma Threshold of Three is hoping to ease, Kunkel gave an example of a book called “The Swerve.” “Eighteen SUMMIT libraries own this book. Seven copies are available for me to check out right now.  So do we really need 18 copies? Would nine copies be enough?  Or six?  If we bought fewer copies of one title, we could buy more different titles, thus having overall a larger, more unique collection.”

After all, the chances are that, between 36 libraries, not every single one is going to need a copy of the same book at the same time. The aim of the Threshold of Three program is to search for a more reasonable number of duplicate items to hold so that the limited funds of every library can be used more efficiently. Though not strictly a cost-saving measure, the hope is that this would result in an ever-greater assortment of items being accessible to the consortium and its patrons.

The pilot program runs through June and is being evaluated now. As with all pilots, the library is unsure if the program will work or if it might need to be tinkered with around the edges. Nonetheless, the goal of bringing more resources into the hands of the students is alive and well at the Pacific University campus library. For more information, library users should contact the staff.


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