Thursday, March 24, 2016

Aeon system improves access to Special Collections materials

As of March 31, 2016, the UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center will join more than 50 other research universities in moving away from paper request slips and sign-in ledgers. The new Aeon requesting system will allow SCRC researchers to submit requests for materials using a custom web-based interface including submitting requests for materials, placing digital reproduction orders, and scheduling their visit online without ever logging into email or typing a message.

According to Jaime Marie Burton, director of SCRC’s Research Services and Education, “Aeon has been in use at leading research institutions for several years and has proven to be an invaluable solution for efficient access to research collections, rare books, and original primary source materials, as well as improving the security of collections. We are looking forward to new data points on how researchers use our collections, and establishing improved metrics that will inform decision-making and collection development for the future, all geared towards helping the SCRC better support UK’s vibrant research community.”

UK patrons will be able to create an account using their LinkBlue IDs, while non-UK researchers will establish an account with a chosen username and password. After completing online registration, patrons will have access to their own requesting history, be able to track the status of active requests in real-time, make changes to requests and orders, and receive digital deliveries. In coordination with an archivist, the “Activity” feature will allow class material lists to be saved, shared, edited, or used again in future semesters. A new “Tags” feature will also allow patrons an additional way to organize their requests to accommodate their own individualized research projects and needs.

The requesting system roll-out will include the submission of requests through an online manual form, or through a new “Request” button and submission options embedded directly in an updated layout for collection guides and finding aids on ExploreUK, as well as oral histories through the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History online catalog SPOKEdb, and eventually the UK Libraries catalog InfoKat Discovery.

On the staff side, the system will centralize registration and patron data, utilize processing queues and efficiencies that automate tracking of materials across 4 buildings and multiple storage locations, create instantaneous usage statistics, generate reports for long-term data gathering, trend analysis, and program assessment. The enhanced efficiency, improved security, and the facilitation of data-driven management decisions will provide a higher level of knowledge and control of collections, which will also inform planning around functions like cataloging, digitization, collection development, acquisitions, donor relations, conservation, and materials storage.

The SCRC Breckinridge Research Room will be closed on Wednesday, March 30, to allow for staff training and system set-up; services may also be limited on Tuesday, March 29.

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