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Improving Study and Research at APU: More and Better Access to Online Resources

Feb 1, 2005

Improving Study and Research at APU: More and Better Access to Online Resources
A Talk with Professor Eades about the New Media Website


Most likely you have noticed it already, but the new APU Media Resource website has been relaunched. At www.apu.ac.jp/media, you can now surf through an extensive website that integrates information about the APU Library and APU Net with access to online services, including academic databases and links to websites that make great tools for study and research. Spotlight had a talk with the Director of the Media Resource Center, Professor J.S. Eades about the new media website.
Expressing his satisfaction with the new website, Professor Eades says, 'The APU team that developed the new Media Site have done a tremendous job. Not only have they provided a framework that looks much better than the old one, but they have also made a huge amount of content available. The site has links to thousands of online journals, online encyclopedias, dictionaries and translation tools and a vast mountain of other resources. Together with the access to the online databases, I really think that this has turned this site into a serious research resource.'

The media site can be seen as another step in the development of the APU Library as it strives to help students and faculty with their studies and research. Prof. Eades has been involved in the organization of the library from the very beginning of APU. Initially, of course,there was merely a good reference collection to build on. With the help of students, a project was started to create a bibliography of books on the Asia Pacific region. This bibliography has served as a guideline to the building of the library collection.

Professor Eades observes, 'This is not as easy as you might think, it is hard and generally 80 to 90% more expensive to acquire foreign books in Japan. One of the difficulties and cost factors is that Japan has its own catalogue system, which is different from the rest of the world.'

When it comes to getting the costs of books down, the development of e-books can be significant according to Prof. Eades. 'There are problems with copyright, but we already see collections of copyright-free e-books emerge on the Internet now. When it comes to copyrighted material, there is a large group of academic books. These specialized books only sell a few hundred copies and are of little value to the publishers after that. I expect that publishers will digitize those books and then basically rent them out to universities and libraries, like they do with the journals. That's the only way they can still make money out of them. Of course, the costs of these e-books will be much lower than printed material.'

Online Journals
The APU Library is not all about books. About one-third of the library budget is spent on Journals. Prof. Eades explains how the market of academic journals has rapidly changed over the past few years, with more and more journals being made available in online databases. Driven by citation indexes, publishers are motivated to put their journals online. 'Basically, the paper-form of most journals will be dead in 10 years,' he says. 'In APU, we now have access to online databases like JSTOR, ProQuest and Oxford University Press. Together with free-to-all e-journal sites like the Directory of Open Access Journals (www.doaj.org), this allows users to consult thousands of titles, including back numbers that in some cases go back as far as the 19th century. I estimate that we actually have access to 95% of the essential journals in the world.'

Better access to library services
The new media website is also trying to provide more and better information about the services available in the APU Library. Of major interest to students is the inter-library loan system. Although many students appear not to know, it is possible to have books sent to the APU Library from the libraries of Ritsumeikan University and other university's library. It is even fairly easy to get materials from other university libraries, although this does involve a fee.

'If we look at the progress made over the past years by the APU Library, I think we have come a long way,' Prof. Eades claims. 'There are a lot of things that can still be improved, and I am sure that we will continue to work hard. But let me stress once more that a good research library is not necessarily about having a big number of materials in paper on the shelves, it is more about giving users access to resources in one way or another. So, that can also be through inter-library loan or through on-line services, which are becoming more and more important. This new website makes a great portal for that.'


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