Maag's Birthday

This year is the 30th anniversary of Maag Library. The library had its beginnings in the Youngstown YMCA, later moved to Jones Hall, and then to the first library building, now Tod Hall. Throughout the years, YSU’s libraries have been a critical part of the mission of the College and the University. This anniversary issue of the Maag Newsletter contains a few fascinating short essays on the transformation of library services at YSU. I hope you read them and, as I do, marvel at the extent to which Maag and its staff have kept pace with the extraordinary changes that have occurred in the delivery of information services.

    Reference Resources:   Then (1976) and Now (2006)


The Card Catalog

The card catalog was the most important and visible reference tool in the library. Using it was a time-consuming process of physically moving from drawer to drawer, exploring subject headings, authors, or titles. Although the process was tedious, it provided the only “map” or “key” to the book collection.

Using library resources in 1976 meant coming to the library equipped with pencil and paper. Use of the “big red volumes,” officially known as the Library of Congress Subject Headings, streamlined the card catalog search a bit.

Journal Articles
Three decades ago, finding a journal article meant using a print index. The Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature, Social Sciences Index, Applied Science & Technology Index, and the Humanities Index were among the most popular.

Other indexes, vital to serious researchers, were difficult to use in print formats—most notably Science Citation Index, Chemical Abstracts, and Engineering Index.

After selecting an article, the user then had to determine if Maag Library subscribed to the journal. Sometimes this was a simple process of checking the front of the index where the staff identified which journals the library owned. Other times, patrons checked a printout of library subscriptions or went back to the card catalog to look up the title.

What were the alternatives if the journal you wanted was not available at Maag? Usually that meant filling out an interlibrary loan form. In 1976, this was a much slower process than it is today; a response, whether positive or negative, could take weeks or months.

Fast-forward 30 years to 2006

The On-line catalog

The computer is the new key to the library world. Digitization of the card catalog allows patrons to search by keyword, author, title, or subject headings with a keystroke.

Although it is physically easier to perform a thorough search, it is still time-consuming! The advent of computer networks and databases raised the amount of information available exponentially. Users must critically analyze the quality of their sources.

Journal Articles
The Ohio LINK Research Databases simplify locating journal articles. For many patrons, these databases offer one-stop shopping due to the strength and variety of the holdings. Many, most notably the Electronic Journal Center and JSTOR, are full-text for quick and inexpensive access.
The most remarkable change in the last thirty years is the ability to do research from a variety of locations other than the library!
        Home or Office
                               Wireless - Anywhere
What hasn’t changed?
  • Maag Library is dedicated to providing quality academic resources and services.
  • Research takes time and cannot be rushed!
  • Information literacy, knowing how to find and use information, is a vital component
    of academic success.
  • Browsing through the stacks is a timeless, effective method of discovery.
  • The library’s Reference Desk offers the best help for research issues.

Focus on the Here and Now
For your convenience, eMac stations are set up throughout Maag Library. Whenever you need to do a quick search of the library catalog or go online, use the eMacs in the main, third, fourth, fifth and sixth floor lobbies. Stations on the main, third and sixth levels are handicapped accessible.
Jazzman’s Café and Student Government have partnered to provide free coffee and cookies from December 10 to December 13 from 10:00 p.m. until closing.
Maag Library will offer extended hours both before and during finals week.
December 4—7: 7:30 a.m. to midnight
December 8: 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
December 9:
9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
December 10:
1:00 p.m. to midnight
December 11—13:
7:30 a.m. to midnight

Wikifixity, or, To Buy, Borrow, or Rent: That is the Question.

Wikifixity is a word of my own design, a contradiction in terms that attempts to describe the complex nature of library collections today. “Fixity”, a stable state, is how we have always looked at our collections, buying to own and building a traditional library. Electronic products are the amorphous part of the collection, creating a fluctuating reality akin to the wiki software used in collaborative websites. While electronic collections seem a fixed entity, at any given moment the content can and will change because that is the nature of all things electronic. Quickly (as in the Hawaiian word “wiki”) evolving, the content, not fixed by nature, has become a fixed service at Maag. It is here today and different tomorrow-- wikifixity. But how did we get here and where are we going?

In the heyday of library budgets, we bought as much as we could get our hands on. When we outgrew our buildings, we simply built new ones, expanded to subject-specific libraries, or moved our unused items to storage facilities. We acquired all that we could “just in case” someone needed it. Today, as library budgets shrink, publishers produce hundreds of thousands of books every year. Decisions on digital items further complicate acquisition decisions. The cumulative effect is that thirty years after building a facility to hold our burgeoning collection, we find ourselves offering more of a “just-in-time” approach to collection building than that of “just-in-case.”

In October 1976, Maag Library, ensconced in its crisp new building, installed its first public services computer terminal in the pristine Reference Room. The terminal accessed a database of electronic cataloging records of more than 600 member libraries. Now known as OCLC Online Computer Library Center, the system’s electronic records form the core of automated library catalogs worldwide.

With that one computer, Maag offered its first public access terminal. All libraries today compete with the hype of the Internet, while patrons struggle with both the volume of the offerings and the legitimacy of the information. In spite of the lure of cyberspace, I am convinced that there will always be the printed word and that we will continue to buy print materials when appropriate. Computer servers are a new “shelf location” and libraries must make increasingly difficult decisions about which “shelf” makes the most sense.

Whether we buy, borrow, or rent, consortia participation is the most cost-effective way to have it all. Cooperative efforts, such as OCLC and OhioLINK, aid us in grappling with the wikifixity of our collections. Consortia have created a vehicle that affords us the best of both worlds—strong just-in-case buying and even stronger just-in-time service. With OhioLINK as a fixed entity, we can rely on its consortial strength to build our local and virtual collections. Its unrivaled buying power for both print and electronic resources and streamlined access to materials we do not own, allows Collections Services to reinvent day-to-day business practices.

The “wikifixity” of today’s library collections is the challenge we face. While every day at Maag Library is a celebration of where we’ve been and how far we’ve come, it’s shaping the future in a wikifixity world of information that makes it all worthwhile.

From the Closet to the Desktop: Interlibrary Loan at Maag

When the doors of Maag Library opened in 1976, the library world was undergoing a sea change; the first steps were taken from card catalogs and limited access to the wide-open applications of computer technology. Interlibrary loan was one library service that immediately benefited from applying that technology.

Before computers, the interlibrary loan process was long and tedious. To find requested items, one had to rely on both the previous experience of the staff and the National Union Catalog, a multi-volume set of cumbersome oversized books with limited information. Requests and the transfer of materials utilized the postal service; response times were necessarily slow.

The advent of computer networks changed everything and the library staff worked to keep Maag in the forefront.

By 1977, the library processed interlibrary loan requests via a telex machine connected to a fledgling OCLC national digital catalog. “The telex was housed in a small storage closet to muffle the sound,” Debra Beronja remembers. “I spent a lot of time in that storage room. It was dark, crowded, and really cold.” As the technology continued to advance, the quality of interlibrary loan service kept pace.

Thirty years later, interlibrary loan experienced another transformation. YSU’s participation in OhioLINK, a statewide consortium, provides patron activated borrowing from the 10,000,000 unique titles in Ohio. Even more efficient is the digital transmission of scanned items, often directly to the requestor’s computer desktop. “Digital loans are both cost effective and environmentally friendly,” comments Ellen Wakeford-Banks, who currently oversees interlibrary loan. “Many patrons no longer want or need hard copy for their research.”

In 2036, when Maag Library is 60, our current technology will be as archaic as the card catalog is now. Yet, just as they did in 1976 and 2006, the Maag staff will work to keep the YSU campus on the cutting edge of information access.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

As Maag Library celebrates its 30th anniversary, people wonder how Maag Library has changed since 1976. Many answers involve the cafe on the third floor and the live music performed there during the noon hour. Others focus on technological advances including the internet, laptops, cell phones, and digital resources that compete with our bookish confines. Some speculate that it is so changed William F. Maag, Jr. would not recognize the library of today. I beg to differ.

When Maag Library opened on January 7, 1976, students and faculty raved about the facility. A common remark was that the new library made things easier for patrons. The state of the art building offered amenities the old library did not have, such as an evening book drop, accommodations for the disabled, and, yes, even air-conditioning. The library created an atmosphere that invited learning with study carrels, reading areas, and group study rooms providing places for solitude and group interaction. Copy machines and typewriters were available for the students and overdue fines were paid at the library instead of the bursar’s office. The technology was ahead of its time with the addition of the OCLC system, an online catalog of library holdings.
Yet, when we take time to reflect on the past and compare it to the present, the Maag Library of 1976 sounds strikingly similar to the Maag Library of 2006. Indeed, our primary goal remains to make life easier for our faculty and students. The library continues to be state of the art through recent renovations and the addition of computer labs, digital classrooms, and wireless internet connections. While the internet changed the way the faculty and students conduct research, personal interaction with library professionals is still essential. Patrons keep coming to the library much as they did back in the bicentennial year. The collection remains solid although many of these resources are now digital. While typewriters may be a little hard to come by, scanners and laptop computers are available. OhioLINK and OCLC keep Maag on the cutting edge of technology while online databases and a digital archival repository continue the trend of a digitized library.

In 2006, the question should not be how has Maag Library changed, but how has it remained constant. The only thing that has really changed—and will continue to change—is technology. That technology has not changed what we do; it has only changed how we do things. If William F. Maag, Jr. were alive today, I think he would recognize this library and would be very proud of what we created in the last three decades.

Newsletter Editor: Amy Kyte
Need more information? Have questions? Visit the library home page at or call us at (330)941-3678