Samuel Merritt University enews



New Library Director Brings New Techno Ways to
Gather Traditional Information

Marcus Banks

Student Survey Defines Instructional Technology Needs at SMU

Both technology and teaching methods are evolving rapidly.  The Library and Academic & Instructional Innovation would like to understand how students are using technology today, and what technological tools they would like at their disposal to improve their learning.

For example, what proportion of students currently watch video on a mobile device or utilize apps on a smartphone?  How many students would like to view pre-recorded lectures online or utilize computer-based simulations as a tool to aid learning?  From November 8th to December 8th, students are invited to complete an online survey that addresses these questions and many more.  Participating students can win gift cards of up to $150 awarded through weekly raffle drawings.  (A similar survey for SMU faculty and staff is planned for next year.) 

The survey questions have been carefully developed by staff in Academic & Instructional Innovation, with consultation by Norman Lopez in the Office of Institutional Research.  Reference points for survey development included national surveys on the same topic produced by EDUCAUSE, the leading higher education information technology organization in the U.S.  We believe this data will provide very useful input for planning instructional technology services and support going forward. 

For additional information contact Marcus Banks, Director of the Graziano Memorial Library/Academic & Instructional Innovation at 510.869.5732 or

Article Contributed by Marcus Banks, Library / Academic & Instructional Innovation Director.

Back in late August, on the first day of Faculty Orientation, sitting in the middle of the room full of faculty and staff, an unfamiliar person announces to the Samuel Merritt University (SMU) community, 'Hello, my name is Marcus Banks, I am the new Director of the Library, and I am happy to be here."

Banks, M.L.I.S., began working at the John A. Graziano Memorial Library a few weeks before School began after three years as Manager of Education and Information Services at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).  He says the decision to come to SMU was a clear one; size and an opportunity to help a 25-year-old library reach new potential.

"For me, UCSF was always a hard place to get to know the people you were trying to work with because there was so many," said Banks.  "In UCSF courses, we wanted to support the researchers, but at times it was difficult to find which department to come to or who to speak to about the topic.  At this University I know I can just talk to "blank" who would immediately put me in contact with "blank."  So it's much more nimble in that way, that's what I really appreciate about Samuel Merritt University."

John A. Graziano Memorial Library

Banks studied and received his Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree from Dominican University in Illinois.  "I learned a lot and in a short time made the decision that I wanted to become a professional librarian," Banks said.  Soon after graduating,  he moved and worked two years at the National Library of Medicine in [Washington] D.C., followed by three years at NYU Medical library, and three years at UCSF. 

Along with his background in supporting health science programs,  Banks is no stranger to research, case studies, or being published.  On his LinkedIn page he expresses his desire to take research and libraries to the next level.  "I am interested in re-purposing libraries. Assistance with discovery of resources is still crucial, but just as important now is knowledge management and integration.  We should give patrons tools to utilize all the great content we make available."

Michael Nunez, OT student, reading a Faculty Research article

Banks is very open about technology and the way people gather information - he says so in his regularly updated blog, 'Marcus' World.'  "I did some of my own research for example, about the way to measure research output.  I enjoy looking at different ways that could be done," said Banks. 

Library Goal
One of his ideas for the University is to see it have its own medical publishing house.  "One of my dreams would be to actually publish a journal through the library that's directly through Samuel Merritt University rather than going through commercial publishers and then having to buy back the work," explains Banks. 

Along with his library staff, Banks encourages students to expand their profession by initiating and incorporating their own research.  "We just started displays in the library of faculty research, and soon we will be taking some of the less used books and putting them in storage and creating seminar spaces." 

He does add that the Graziano Library will continue to keep the course reserved books, online journals, and databases.  "We may not get as many books for the collection because we find that those aren't checked out as much.  That's where we could reconfigure the space," concludes Banks.

Like most everyone on campus, Banks is looking forward to the library expansion.  "One of the uses for the seminar rooms would be like a reader seminar [a smaller scale than regular classes].  People are already too cramped for catalog and documenting delivery, so they need new space. We also have a plan to have a 30 seat computer lab and then we'll have a seminar room that anyone can use.  The completion date is estimated to be Fall, 2011."

Going Green
SMU Student Performing Research OnlineLibraries across the country are tweeting, texting and launching smart-phone apps as they try to keep up with the "biblio-techs" -- a computer-savvy class of people who consider card catalogs as vintage as typewriters.  Even the growing popularity of electronic books - e-books is leading many to assess the future of the printed word.  A recent study from the Institute of Museum and Library Services show that library visits and circulation climbed nearly 20 percent from 1999 to 2008 stating that technology has continued to drive in-person visits, circulation and usage.  Banks hopes the same thing will happen at the Graziano Library.

"By next year we're going to have an electronic reserve system.  For example, if you're a student on a Black Board course there would be a tab that says, 'Course Reserve' and once you click on it the articles are scanned for that material.  Essentially we want less paper and more electronic copies."

The University just hired an emerging technology specialist who will help to revamp the library website and create a program that can make the library's catalog friendly to access from a smart phone.  Banks also wants to start marketing the library through the use of Twitter and Facebook.

Library staff who have been at SMU for a while have proven very adaptable to what can sometimes seem like a dizzying pace of change, which Banks appreciates.  "With technology I would rather go further than just standing still and doing the same old thing," said Banks.  "My goal is to just keep pushing forward until something goes wrong."

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