Document Type



ILA–ACRL Spring Conference

Publication Date


Conference Title

Iowa Library Association–Association of College and Research Libraries Spring Conference 2017

Conference Date

May 18–19, 2017


Des Moines, IA, United States


Many colleges and universities have increased the number and breadth of distance learning (DL) courses and online degree programs. In a growing DL environment, more rigorous and sustained attention to DL needs is necessary to encourage recognition of the campus academic library as a viable resource, and to facilitate its access and use by students who may never visit campus. With low staffing and stripped budgets, what can libraries do to ensure that online and physical collections and services are easily available to DL students, many of whom live at a great distance from campus? An initial environmental scan done by librarians and campus staff on a DL library taskforce identified areas of concern. To begin working on these issues, a library DL committee was formed. That committee initiated a series of surveys to both DL instructors and students to hear from them directly concerning what was working well and what challenges might exist in using our library’s collections and services at a distance. The student survey has been especially helpful and has been repeated three times over five years, most recently in 2016. The DL committee has used survey results from over 900 student survey respondents to guide improvements to the library website, off-campus login, communication issues, the provision of interlibrary loan services, and online instruction. The committee has collaborated with various campus units and staff, including the Registrar’s Office, campus DL administrators and staff, the campus Teaching Improvement center, instructional technology staff who create DL courses, and IT staff, among others. This presentation will address some of the major issues students identified as problems, and the changes we have implemented, including our library’s efforts to reach out and regularly connect with our growing number of DL students.



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