Mn/DOT Library Accomplishments
By Jerry Baldwin
What Does Mn/DOT Library Accomplish?
We provide information to Mn/DOT employees faster, better and cheaper than they can for themselves.
In FY01 Mn/DOT Library services provided an estimated total of $8,386,500.00 in reduced costs and added value for a benefits to cost ratio of 12:1.
Mn/DOT Library Reduced Costs:
4,500 information resources were provided in response to specific requests for an estimated savings of $191,250. NOTE: Library networks were used to borrow about 500 of these resources for use by Mn/DOT employees from 175 other organizations in 45 states and 3 foreign countries.
3,600 requests for information on specific topics were responded to for an estimated savings of $468,000.
Reduction in duplicate subscriptions provided by the library's centralized magazine subscription and routing service saved an estimated $180,000.
Mn/DOT Library Added Value:
Mn/DOT employees' reading of the 4,500 requested information resources provided by the library provided an estimated value of $5,100,000.
Mn/DOT employees' reading of the 40,000 information resources provided through the library's routing services provided an estimated value of $2,400,000.
Viewing and use of Mn/DOT Library's web pages provided an estimated value of $47,250.
Who staffs Mn/DOT Library?
One library program director considered to be a national and international leader in the area of special libraries, especially within the field of transportation.
Three reference librarians with combined experience of more than fifty years in providing information services in special libraries.
One technical services librarian considered to be among only a handful of experts in the United States in classifying and cataloging transportation information resources, especially in the area of creating metadata describing electronic information resources for inclusion in WorldCat. WorldCat is a database providing information on nearly one billion items in nearly 10,000 libraries throughout the world.
Two library technicians with combined experience of more than fifty years in describing, identifying and acquiring information resources from anywhere in the world.
All special libraries (libraries in corporate, government agency and other non-academic institutional settings) exist for only one reason - to provide information faster, better, and/or cheaper than customers can do so for themselves.
Provides information and information resources faster (more efficiently) by:
|Joining (and establishing) networks of libraries that collaborate to share information about resources in each library and to expedite sharing of resources and services|
|Developing a well-organized collection of frequently-needed, authoritative reference sources and other publications in transportation and other subject areas of interest to the department|
|Attempting to ensure that copies of all important Mn/DOT documents are identified, cataloged, and preserved so any document can be accessed when needed.|
Provides information and information resources better (more comprehensively) by:
|Developing and applying knowledge about the resources and services of a wide range of publishers and other information providers.|
|Using library staff expertise to access the latest techniques and technologies available to identify, locate and acquire information and information resources.|
|Applying library staff expertise regarding the wide range of formats and methods of distributing and displaying information and laws affecting the use of information and information resources (copyright and other intellectual property law) to provide customers the right information at the right time in the right format.|
Provides information and information resources cheaper (at a lower overall cost) by:
|Developing and providing services and procedures that allow departmental units and employees to share information resources.|
|Taking advantage of discounts available through various vendors and membership agreements in purchasing and licensing information resources.|
|Organizing and presenting most frequently needed information resources and services on the library's Internet and Intranet pages.|
|Borrowing needed resources from cooperating libraries in lieu of purchasing.|
What Customers Have Had to Say about -
Providing information faster:
"I needed current information on the latest water quality models used to predict highway impacts. Your library had the only copies of these FHWA documents that were locally available. I would have otherwise had to order the documents from the FHWA, a process that would have taken too long." (Mn/DOT Employee)
"I have always received excellent service. My most recent use of the library involved a request for old (mid 1960's through mid 1970's) copies of NCHRP, AASHO and HRB reports regarding guardrail. All of the information was sent within a week of the request. This information was vital in my efforts to assist Mn/DOT and the Attorney General's office prepare a defense in a tort case involving personal injury." (MN State Employee)
"I was looking for a manual and related information that was produced by the U.S. Department of Transportation. [Library] staff was very friendly and helpful. It's hard to estimate how much time your staff saved me, but I would say one to two days of searching." (Local Business Owner)
"Recently I checked out two FHWA Technical Reports from the library. I needed to research these reports in a hurry for technical guidelines. The T2 Center in Fargo did not have these reports on hand and it would have taken several weeks and several dollars to obtain these reports from the U.S. Government Printing Offices. The library mailed the reports immediately and I was able to do the research in a timely manner." (MN County Engineer)
Providing better information:
"[The library] provided the materials in a very timely manner. Had we done this search within our own office, we may have spent more than two weeks and not identified all of the information which you provided. Our division would have experienced a "lost opportunity" of the time which we would have had to spend on the search." (Mn/DOT Employee)
"I [was investigating] the use of video camera technology to analyze traffic movements and volumes at intersections and roadway segments. [The library] search revealed that some engineers in Germany had begun work in this very area. This, hopefully, will save us much time and energy by not having to "reinvent" the wheel. Your search capabilities are very impressive and appreciated." (Mn/DOT Employee)
"The [library] has been tremendously helpful to me...a lot of information would be unknown or inaccessible to me without this service. I cannot think of a situation where you were not able to provide information or services that I have requested." (Mn/DOT Employee)
Research on DOT Web sites, Traffic Management Centers and Ramp Meters
Thank you very much for your assistance. None of these websites ever came up in my searches." (Mn/DOT Employee)
Providing information cheaper:
"Asked for a book I needed to read, which you didn't have. Obtained a copy for me from another library. Needed a report, which again you didn't carry. Found a copy for me. In both instances, all that was necessary was one phone call. Otherwise I would have had to make several calls to find the report and would have probably not found the book." (Mn/DOT Employee)
"You have provided (1) Literature searches--helped me for a speech in Taiwan; (2) Publications that were not available at my agency--saving me time in ordering and enormous amounts of money (that we may not have had to spend) especially TRB, but also AASHTO, ITE and others; (3) Contacts/addresses/telephone numbers: Invaluable. Saved us lots of time. Your office/services are invaluable for those of us in transportation who don't work for a transportation agency." (MN State Employee)
"I needed new information for Sexual Harassment Training. [The library] provided me with a list of information saving me 20 to 25 hours of research. [The library] has, over the years, always met or exceeded my expectations when seeking information." (Mn/DOT Employee)
"I use the library as an access point for literature that is not available in Mn/DOT. Each time I receive four articles, it saves me four hours plus a trip to the University of Minnesota Library System. Each time you do a literature search you save me at least two days of library work at the University." (Mn/DOT Employee)
Estimates of Annual Mn/DOT Cost Savings and Cost Avoidance Attributable to Mn/DOT Library Services
Estimate of Annual Added Value Attributable to Mn/DOT Library Services
Benefits and Return on Investment
How is Mn/DOT Library different?
From other state DOT libraries:
Mn/DOT Library is unique in relation to other DOT libraries in several respects, the most obvious being the number of staff in a single library - nine - and the wider range of services provided by Mn/DOT Library. In part this is due to Mn/DOT's strong emphasis on research and on Mn/DOT Library being the only library in the state with extensive resources in transportation. For comparison:
California has the greatest number of transportation libraries including:
University of California, Berkeley, Institute of Transportation Studies, Harmer E. Davis Library
California Dept. of Transportation Transportation Library and History Center, Sacramento
California Maritime Academy Library, Vallejo
BART Technical Resources Library - Bay Area Rapid Transit, Oakland
California State Railroad Museum Library, Sacramento
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority Library
Mineta Transportation Institute Library, San Jose State University
Metropolitan Transportation Commission / MTC-ABAG Library, Oakland
San Francisco Municipal Railway Library
San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library
South Coast Area Transit Library, Oxnard
Other states with multiple transportation libraries:
Texas - Center for Transportation Research and Education, Austin; Texas Transportation Institute, College Station; Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport Research Center, Dallas; Metropolitan Transit Authority, Houston; New York - New York State DOT, Albany; Port Authority of NY and NJ Aviation Library, New York City; Metropolitan Transit Authority Bridges and Tunnels Technical Library, New York City Washington - Washington State DOT , Olympia (2); Sound Transit, Seattle; Paccar, Inc., Bellevue; Boeing Company, Seattle (2) ; Massachusetts - MIT Aeronautics Library, Cambridge; Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, Cambridge; Massachusetts State Transportation Library, Boston; Massport Authority Legal Library, East Boston; Illionis - Illinois State DOT Library, Springield; Northwestern University Transportation Center Library, Evanston.
Several states have multiple "libraries" within their DOT. Examples include California, and Wisconsin which have, in addition to their main libraries, one or more district libraries. A recent visit to Missouri DOT included a tour of three separate "libraries" at three separate facilities within Jefferson City. Washington has at least two libraries, with the second facility at its materials laboratory.
A survey done by Mn/DOT Library in June, 2000 showed that 42 state DOTs had what the DOT referred to as a library. Of these, only 17 had at least one professional librarian on staff, and only 9 were accessible via the Internet. Of those with websites only the catalogs of Arizona, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Washington are searchable via the Internet.
Each state DOT library is unique in its relationships with other libraries. These range from Washington, where the DOT contracts with the Washington State Library to provide onsite library services, to Minnesota, which has no state library. In Minnesota, each agency meets its own needs for library services. These services are coordinated through the Capitol Area Library Consortium (CALCO). CALCO is a non-profit corporation created by state agency librarians to enhance interagency collaboration, a structure unique to Minnesota. Each DOT library is also unique in the customer base served. Several states have libraries that serve a single office. Mn/DOT Library serves the state's entire transportation community by acting as the information services component of the state's Local Transporation Assistance Program.
The most unique aspect of Mn/DOT Library services in comparison to other DOT libraries is the library's use of the department's computer network to provide employee's throughout the state with desktop access to extensive information on CD-ROMs, in licensed databases, and in online, full-text periodicals.