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September 2016

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Issue No. 101
September 2016

Website Revamp

Responses to last year’s LibQual+ library user survey included many comments that the Library website was looking old and was confusing and hard to use.  As you can see, we agreed and the entire website has been redesigned – with a new look, improved organization, and better navigation options.

The focus of the website has also been shifted more clearly to you – the person using it.  In addition to global drop-down menus and breadcrumb navigation, many pages from the older version were left behind and most others are being rewritten.

The design is also fully ‘responsive’, and should adjust to different devices and screen sizes smoothly.

Please let us know what you think of it – tell us what we got right, and what does not work for you.  Send feedback to


notes101-2Hosted: International Conference on Sustainability in Academic Libraries

On June 1-3, the Library hosted a large-scale international conference: Academic Librarian 4 – Sustainable Academic Libraries: Now and Beyond (AL4).  The 3-day event attracted over 300 library professionals from Hong Kong and abroad.  It was a vibrant, stimulating conference.  We received very positive feedback from attendees on the pertinence of the conference themes, the quality of papers presented, and the event organization.

notes101-3Co-organized by the libraries of HKUST and CUHK, the conference was also marked as a 25th Anniversary celebration event for HKUST.  The conference addressed the multi-dimensional issues of sustainability pertaining to academic libraries.

How do academic libraries drive sustainability in their innovations and day-to-day operations?  What are the best practices and emerging trends that help save the environment for posterity while most efficiently fulfilling the current and future needs of library users?  What are the obstacles or breakthroughs in advancing these goals?  Thirty five presentations, including four keynote speeches by eminent leaders of the fields, answered these questions within four overall themes:

1. Sustainable Environment
2. Sustainable Resources
3. Sustainable Technologies
4. Sustainable Services

The papers were presented on June 2-3, preceded by a very productive 1-day pre-conference workshop.

A Green Conference
Carrying the main theme of sustainability, AL4 made every effort to follow best practices for an environmentally-friendly event.  For communication and publicity, we minimized printing and used electronic files whenever possible.  Banners were made from paper; souvenirs were practical and reusable.  For food and drink, we were attentive in the choice of menu and amounts ordered; including arrangements for left-over food to be handled properly.  We also avoided using disposable utensils, and participants were encouraged to bring their own mugs.  In terms of transportation, we arranged coaches during the event as mass transportation.

notes101-4Interacting via Social Media and Mobile App
During the conference we maintained constant exchanges with the attendees in cyberspace.  The conference Twitter account was very active and heavily retweeted.

We also set up an event app using Guidebook, which can be installed on any mobile devices.  The app made it easy for attendees to follow the schedule, select sessions to attend, stay connected with others, post comments and share photos.

AL4 was the fourth conference of the Academic Librarian conference series.  Initiated by CUHK, the series were previously held at CUHK (AL1 and AL3) and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (AL2).  Although the next one is not yet scheduled, some attendees mentioned that they look forward to joining AL5!

notes101-5Library 25th Anniversary Souvenirs

The Library has produced two special souvenirs to celebrate the University’s 25th Anniversary.

Prints of Antique Maps
Collectible prints of 12 beautiful maps selected from the Library Special Collections are made available in 3 subsets, each containing 4 maps.  Only 250 individually numbered sets were produced.  Price: $200 for one subset and $500 for one full set with all 12 maps.

notes101-6notes101-7Illustrated Notebook
A notebook decorated with 25 images selected from our Special Collections’ rare books of the 16th to 19th Centuries.  Price: $80

These special gifts are a perfect choice for your friends and guests.  Order from the new Library website, or visit the Circulation Counter or the HKUST Souvenir Shop.

“Tartary” Ancient Maps Exhibition

notes101-8The Library is holding an exhibition on Ancient Maps of Central Asia and China in the Hong Kong Chiu Chow Chamber of Commerce Ko Pui Shuen Gallery from 26 May 2016 to 31 December 2016.

29 maps, 8 books, and 2 prints from the Special Collections are on display, some newly acquired for this exhibition.  Together, they illustrate changing depictions of Tartary, the name Westerners gave to the area between Russia and China inhabited by nomadic tribes.

The items presented cover the period from 1493 to 1737.  We begin with Europe’s oldest printed maps showing “Tartary” inhabited by monsters, and with the Great Khan Kublai (1215-1294) still in command.  Eventually we reach the large Atlas printed by Jesuit missionaries to document the scientific survey of the empire ordered by the Kangxi Emperor (reigned 1661-1722).

Talks and gallery tours will be arranged this Fall.

New Entry Gates Installed & Card Access Policy Implemented

Ever since the Library opened its doors in 1991, HKUST has been proud of the Library’s “Open Access” policy.  We are the only UGC-funded academic library keeping our doors open.  However new situations and challenges bring change.  Our user population has increased – the number of users has jumped about 30% in 2015 compared with 2012.  And new housing projects nearby will add several thousand occupants in the neighborhood.

With strong demand and keen competition for limited study space, the Library reviewed and revised its access policy.  After installing new entry gates on the Library’s Ground Floor, the new access policy was implemented on May 9, with “Card Access” effective at all times.  Only eligible users with valid University IDs or library cards are allowed to enter.

In order to keep the traditional “open door” spirit, regulated open access is provided, with outsiders allowed to enter the Library during summertime and term breaks.

User feedback has been understanding and generally favorable.  In response to new policy, the Editorial Board of the HKUST Students’ Union launched an online survey of the Library’s new access policy on Facebook on 28 April.  48% supported and just 18% opposed the new policy.  The editor concluded that “No try makes no improvement.  I always hold the belief that we should be tolerant of a new attempt.”

notes101-9Library staff were assigned to stand near the entry gates for the first two weeks, resolving problems and helping users to get familiar with the new gates.

Apart from visitors and conference delegates, the Library recorded an average of 31 outsiders in June and 40 outsiders in July using the Library during the regulated open access period.

We hope that the new access policy can help maintain a high quality and pleasant study and research environment and prevent over-straining of the Library’s spaces and services.

Library Book Talks

notes101-10The HKUST Library Book Talk series began in 2008 as an outreach service to the University community.  Since then, the Library has hosted 33 talks, with over 2,000 participants.  The book talk themes range from scholarly works to popular culture, and it has become a popular event for staff and students to engage in interesting discussions outside the classroom.

On April 26, 2016, Professor Yan Lianke shared his passion about literature and writing with 150 staff and students at HKUST Library.  Professor Yan is considered one of the most controversial Chinese contemporary authors, and he was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker International Prize.  His works have been translated into more than 20 languages, including Dutch, English, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, and Korean.  Snapshots of this inspiring book talk can be found at

The next book talk will be given by Professor Billy So.  He will share his insights into the meaning of wealth, a question that he has pursued in his scholarship for many years.  The talk is also the linking thread that he explores in three books on historical Chinese market economics, so don’t miss Billy’s talk on 6 October in the Library.

Information Literacy in Hong Kong

“There is nothing more necessary to the full, free, and decent life of a person or of a people than to free the mind by passionately and rationally exercise the mind’s power to inquire freely.”  A. Bartlett Giamatti.  A Free and Ordered Space: The Real World of the University.  New York: W.W. Norton, 1988, p. 122.

Information literacy is a set of skills, attitudes, and behaviors that allows people to recognize when they want or need information, and then to search, locate, evaluate, manage, and use what they find effectively and ethically.  It is tightly bound up with exercising “the mind’s power to inquire freely.”

At the Library, we strive to help students develop these abilities.  Part of these efforts lie in measuring how our students are doing; developing  librarian’s abilities to do so; as well as joining with librarians across Hong Kong to help Hong Kong’s university students improve their information literacy.

Madison Assessment:  Pre-Test and Post-Test of 3Y and 4Y Cohorts
In 2011, we began to collaborate with the Center for Enhanced Learning and Teaching (now the Center for Education Innovation) to assess the information literacy proficiency of incoming UGs.

We tested the second-to-last cohort of the 3Y program in 2011, and then the first of the 4Y cohort in 2012.  We used the Madison Assessment Information Literacy Test (ILT).

In spring 2014, we gave the same assessment as a post-test to the same cohort of 3Y as the 2011 pre-test; and in spring 2016, the post-test was given to the graduating 4Ys.

Both cohorts showed a statistically significant improvement in their scores.

notes101-11In both the post-tests, we asked students to answer a short survey about Library use.  We found

  • 3Y cohort (2014 grads): level of proficiency increased from 54.9%->77.6%; positive correlation of overall score with those students who reported the most use of the library to Borrow and Return Library Material and to use the Group Study rooms.
  • 4Y cohort ( 2016): level of proficiency increased from 60.4%->79.0%; positive correlation of overall score with Powersearch, Library Catalog, and library homepage

These results suggest that greater engagement with using the Library and its resources leads to higher measured levels of  information literacy.


UGC-Teaching & Learning Grant: Capacity Building Program and Course Enhancement Funds
HKUST has joined with the seven other UGC-supported university libraries in a UGC Teaching and Learning Grant project:, Enhancing information literacy in Hong Kong higher education through the development and implementation of shared interactive multimedia courseware.  Part of the project was a capacity building program for Hong Kong academic librarians, hosted by HKUST.

notes101-13The first part of the program was a 5-Day face-to-face workshop in January, reported in the February 2016 issue, focusing on developing faculty-librarian collaborative partnerships and designing effective research assignments and related instruction.  It was followed by a webinar in March, and then a two-day face-to-face session in June.  These focused on assessment on class, course, and program levels.  The final webinar to consolidate our learning was held on August 9th.

The capacity building helped to prepare librarians for another important part of the project, the Course Enhancement Fund (CEF).  CEF grants of $15,000 will be used in five courses where faculty members and librarians collaborate to incorporate information literacy (IL) elements in a course with a research component.  Interested faculty can look at this document:

Collection Spotlight: PDA Ebooks

Imagine 50,000 ebook titles easily discoverable via PowerSearch.  All provide full-text for browsing and download, and only those with high use will eventually be purchased by the Library.  This is the essence of the Library’s patron-driven acquisition (PDA) ebook program.

The Library piloted our first PDA program with Ebrary in Fall 2012.  It started with over 10,000 discovery ebook titles.  When a title’s usage reached a pre-determined level, it would automatically trigger a library purchase, without the user knowing it.  The pilot was met with immediate success as evidenced by the noticeable increase in usage numbers, and the quality of the titles which were triggered for purchase.

notes101-14Since then, the Library has increased the depth and breadth of her PDA program by offering thousands of Wiley, JSTOR, Gale, and Ebrary ebooks on extended PDA access.

notes101-15There is nothing random in the choice of PDA Partners.  Wiley is traditionally strong in the business, science, and engineering subjects.  JSTOR provides predominantly humanities and social sciences titles.   Gale specializes in multi-disciplinary reference works at undergraduate level.  JSTOR also focuses on top notch University Presses.  Most are North American, but it also includes the hugely popular Hong Kong University Press.  Ebrary is an aggregator of ebooks from various academic publishers covering a vast range of subjects.

notes101-16Currently, these four programs combined deliver 50,000 ebook discovery titles.  In 2015, the total number of PDA chapter downloads at HKUST hit 283,000, an impressive 43% increase over the previous year’s figure.  The biggest slice of usage is from Ebrary, followed by Wiley, Gale and then JSTOR.

notes101-17Wiley ebooks and journals both reside on the same platform, and the same is true for JSTOR.  Users of these two can benefit from integrated ebook and ejournal access while doing research via their dedicated platforms or simply via Google!

The Library reviews top used titles annually to keep track of the latest trends in teaching and research, and to take appropriate actions.  Remember that your PDA usage counts – it has a direct impact on the Library’s purchasing decisions.


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last modified 01 September 2016