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The exterior of Walter Libary through a "fish-eye" lens

Walter Library on the Twin Cities campus is still a virtual paradise for research and study. Now students will also have access to the U's Undergraduate Virtual Library, the first of its kind in the nation.

U launches Undergraduate Virtual Library

Online library is the first of its kind in the nation

From University News Service

Published on November 15, 2005

The University of Minnesota Libraries is launching an online library for undergraduate students this fall. The Undergraduate Virtual Library (UGVL) is the first of its kind in the nation.

Creation of the UGVL is part of a growing national trend at colleges and universities to address the unique research needs of undergraduate students, who increasingly demand constant access to library and information resources, says University librarian Wendy Pradt Lougee. UGVL provides easy access to the basic research tools undergraduates need, she says.

"The University has long offered students and faculty online access to library resources, but the UGVL uniquely combines content, tools, and services targeting the undergraduate community," Lougee adds.

The UGVL's straightforward Web site features a single, "Google-like" search box. The UGVL allows users to search for information across hundreds of the University's licensed databases, with results presented in a single, unified list.

Unlike Google, the UGVL helps students focus their searches more narrowly on relevant information--a skill that many undergrads lack and one that is increasingly important in many professions.

"The University of Minnesota's Undergraduate Virtual Library is unique," Lougee says. "It gives students access to effective research tools in a time of information overload."

The University of Minnesota is not alone in efforts to address trends involving undergraduate students' need for constant access to library resources. For example, Harvard University recently announced plans to keep its undergraduate libraries open 24 hours a day. However, the University of Minnesota is the first to develop an online tool like the UGVL.

In addition to the single search box feature, the UGVL provides several powerful tools for students, including:

New technology made it possible for the University Libraries to develop the UGVL.

"The [UGVL] is an amalgamation of the latest in library technology," says John Butler, director of the U's Digital Library Development Lab, which created the UGVL. "The design resulted from in-depth analysis, market research, and usability testing involving the "millennials"--the new and future students heading to the University."

University Libraries staff members have worked extensively with faculty to teach them about the UGVL's tools and features, encouraging them to share the UGVL with their students this fall.

The University of Minnesota Libraries is one of the University's and the state's greatest intellectual and capital assets. Housed in 14 facilities on the three Twin Cities campuses, the University Libraries' collections contain 6.2 million print volumes and nearly 37,000 serial subscriptions, making it the 16th largest research library collection in North America.