When Faye Chadwell was in graduate school at University of Illinois more than 20 years ago, it took one to two weeks to receive materials she ordered through the university’s library.

Thanks to new technology, that’s certainly not the case for today’s students and researchers at Oregon State University. OSU Libraries is part of the 36-member Orbis-Cascades Alliance of Pacific Northwest colleges and universities that loan physical and electronic materials to one another.

“Now, that turnaround time (for materials) is 24 hours,” Chadwell said.

Named OSU’s University librarian earlier this month after filling the role in the interim since October, Chadwell will oversee a library system embracing these types of consortium partnerships and other technological advances to rapidly adapt to the future.

One example is the Kindle lending service. Since last year, patrons have been able to check out Amazon.com’s e-reader and even purchase electronic versions of books — paid for by OSU Libraries — that can be reused in the future.

The service has been “wildly successful” as Chadwell puts it. There’s a constant wait list to check out one of the Valley Library’s 18 Kindles.

Such a patron-driven move to a new technology isn’t common at other universities.

“There are a lot of academic librarians that say, ‘You let your patrons do what?’” Chadwell said.

But she says OSU Libraries’ size allows for them to take such risks; larger academic libraries can often be bogged down, as their resources often go toward more traditional library services.

Still, OSU Libraries is not necessarily tiny. Made up by the Valley Library, OSU-Cascades campus library and Hatfield Marine Science Center’s Guin Library, the system’s collection includes 2 million volumes, more than 90 fulltime faculty and staff with a growing compilation of digital items.

Special Collections and University Archives are two places where items are becoming digitized, and Chadwell credits the library’s student workers for much of the scanning and documenting needed for this task.

Though Special Collections is know for the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers, University Archives’ Oregon Multicultural Archives are gaining attention as a repository for the photographs, oral histories and papers of Oregon’s ethnic communities. One of its well-known acquisitions was the Urban League of Portland’s papers in 2008.

Chadwell hopes to see OSU Libraries continue to adapt to budding technologies and promoting its special collections and archives while aligning themselves with OSU’s Strategic Plan by working to implement assessment tools.

Chadwell had a chance to feel out her new role by stepping in as interim University Librarian when Karyle Butcher retried after 14 years as head librarian last fall.

Chadwell first came to OSU Libraries in 2007 as associate librarian for collections and content management. Before that, she spent 12 years at University of Oregon Libraries.

Contact Gazette-Times reporter Gail Cole at 541-758-9510 or gail.cole@lee.net

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