Kresge Library Stacks Up Electronically:
TSRI Scientists Access World of Information from Desktops

By Mika Ono

Logged onto the Kresge Library site, The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) Assistant Professor Ram Krishnamurthy reviews the latest scientific journals in his field of chemistry, downloads a PDF file of some work that intrigues him.

“It is easy to take electronic journals for granted,” says Krishnamurthy. "But I recently went to a conference where I heard colleagues complain about the limited access provided by their university libraries. Apparently, free campus-wide access for employees to online subscriptions like we have here at TSRI is the exception not the rule. I may be inspired or frustrated by what I read in the scientific press—but I am grateful I can review it with a click of a mouse. This stimulates my work and facilitates the exchange of information."

In addition to roughly 600 journals and its catalog, the Kresge Library provides TSRI researchers online access to several popular scientific databases, including Medline, Science Citation Index Expanded (via Web of Science), Biological Abstracts, SciFinder Scholar, and Beilstein. The library also posts several fact sheets for scientists.

Help is always available for those who are learning their way around the electronic stacks. "When I first started using OVID [a search interface that provides access to a number of databases], I didn’t have a clue what I was doing," admits David Goodsell, assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Biology. "The librarians—who are the friendliest I’ve encountered at any library anywhere—set up a training session for me instantly. It opened up a whole new world to me."

Growing Collection, Growing Use

The Kresge Library’s online collection has come a long way in the last decade. "When I first arrived at TSRI in 1991 the library had one computer, which had been purchased in 1984," laughs Paula King, library director. "Now we have three computers available to scientists and nine for our staff. Seventy-five percent of our journal titles are available online. Some journals are still not available electronically—but now almost all of those that are can be accessed through the Kresge Library."

As more electronic information has become available, TSRI scientists have been opting to access the library’s resources from their desktops more frequently. Michaeleen Trimarchi, reference and electronic services librarian, keeps up-to-date on what topics interest TRSI scientists through the statistics the online journals send her.

One publisher, which produces the journal "Science" and the online weekly "Science's Next Wave," makes this job easier by providing a "top ten articles" list with the statistics. One of the most popular "Science" articles on campus in January was "Role of ER Export Signals in Controlling Surface Potassium Channel Numbers," by D. Ma et al. But TSRI scientists are not without a sense of humor. One chart-topper was a "Next Wave" comic caricaturing nine types of prinicipal investigators, from the slave-driver to the rising star.

With the electronic collection almost complete ("It’s never really done," remarks King), King has been visiting with lab heads to exchange information and solicit feedback. "We listen carefully to what our scientists have to say," says King. "In fact, the electronic collection itself is a response to the requests of our scientists. At this point, I want to make sure our researchers know what is available and find out what else the library can do to support their work."

The Physical Space: Great Views and Librarians, Too

Now that so much information is available from the computer desktop, is there still a need for a physical library?

A few faculty and staff make the trip through the north end of the Beckman building to the fourth floor of the Stein Research Building into the Kresge Library’s space, which features a mosaic of small skylights and a stunning view of the ocean. Some come to write, away from the noise and distractions of their labs. Others come to read "The New York Times," "Wall Street Journal," or "Los Angeles Times." Still others come to peruse the new journals arriving daily or to look up older publications not available electronically.

"And don’t forget the librarians!" reminds King. "No matter how much information is provided online, there will always be a need for librarians—especially exceptional librarians like ours who know how to help scientists and staff find the information they need."




Michaeleen Trimarchi (left), reference and electronic services librarian, and Paula King, library director, have been building the Kresge Library's electronic collection.










Even though much information is now available from the computer desktop, some individuals still come to the library's physical space to read, write, or research topics of interest.




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