It’s been three years and three months since we first opened our digital doors, and nearly five since I joined Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) to set up the SUSS Library.
In May 2016, a pro-tempore committee was established at the then SIM University (UniSIM) to look into the enhancement of library services and resource accessibility. With the Board of Trustees’ approval for a digital library that October, I came aboard the following May as its founding Director. I was joined by librarian Nor Aishah a few months later, followed by IT manager Meng Keong.
By June 2018, we had our core systems and applications up and running: Alma integrated library system to supports our operations, Primo discovery service (aka Library Search) to deliver a single search experience, and OpenAthens which enables us to authenticate the SUSS community to subscribed resources. We were also joined by senior librarian Kirsten. We began setting up trials and licensing our first subscriptions, listing them on Databases A-Z as we worked on implementing ADFS/SAML for single sign-on, creating content for our library website and Research Guides, and prepping for the move from Outlook to LibAnswers and LibCal respectively for Ask The Library email reference (check out your FAQs) and research consultation services for better CRM.
SUSS Library was going live on 2 January 2019!
January 2019 also saw us welcoming new associates and freshmen at our very first Start-of Semester and Student Orientation as SUSS Library (where I unveiled our tagline Digital. Personal. Collaborative.). I still remember fondly how we had asked students who visited our booth to ink their thoughts on “I read…” and “Books are…” postcards. That year, we went all out with library swag, from collectible adhesive microfibre phone screen cleaners to L folders and canvas tote bags, all sporting 4 designs each. We introduced BrowZine, which made it a breeze to browse journals on-the-go and to save your favourite ones to your very own bookshelf, zhnged Library Search with LibKey Discovery (Download PDF; View Issue/Journal Contents), and we linked up SUSS Library to Google Scholar. On the physical side of things, we continued to engage our fulfilling partner, SIM Library (Tay Eng Soon Library, Block A, Level 2), to support access to our existing print collections as well as to provide book and equipment loans, study spaces and other on-site library services and facilities. 2019 was an especially meaningful year for SUSS and the other AU Libraries as we got together to form the Singapore Alliance of University Libraries (SAUL).
SUSS Library was now a team of 9.
To celebrate, I launched the 9 Ways To Get The Most Out of Your University Library campaign in 2020 with a little fold-out guide (2021 version) and video (Panopto login required). Then, IT happened. SIM Library announced its temporary closure on 8 April, re-opening four months later to very limited hours (stay up-to-date on the latest news with our SUSS It Out! blog). Thankfully, SUSS Library’s digital-first approach to resources served us well, and along with the faculty, we moved our face-to-face consultations and workshop sessions (TLC-led SDW171 Using Library Resources in Your Written Assignments) online. We continued to enhance your discovery experience by adding Citation Trails and bx Article Recommender (recommendations based on usage by other scholars worldwide) to Library Search. By the end of the year, the SUSS community had access to over 69,000 e-book and media titles, over 37,000 e-journal titles and full/partial access to 49 databases, and we saw online library visitorship and page views go up by more than 20%, journal usage by 34% and book usage by 63%!
Last year, I made the difficult decision of switching from OpenAthens to RemoteXs so that we may offer eligible resources to our Alumni, among other things. It was not an easy adjustment and I am grateful to all for your understanding. RemoteXs comes with a handy proxy bookmarklet for checking SUSS Library holdings with a single click when you are doing research outside of the SUSS Library portal, and because we have BrowZine, you will also find the LibKey Nomad browser extension pretty nifty too! We also launched The Library How, our 90-minute standalone library workshop for undergraduates and postgraduates respectively (latest recordings on Panopto), increased our bookable 30-minute online consultations from every Wednesday to 3 days a week, adapted our staff e-mailer into a newsletter, The Shelf Life, for the entire community, and invited freshmen to learn about the SUSS Library in 30 minutes.
Fast forward to 2022. We started the year by adding more than 210,000 e-books to eBooks, our main e-books platform (with EBSCO Mobile app in beta, you can expect to read them on your devices just like how you might with the Libby app for NLB’s e-books). SUSS Library has also just joined the RapidILL community for peer-to-peer and consortial (a SAUL initiative) interlibrary resource sharing, launching our much-anticipated Document Delivery Service (DDS) last week to faculty and associates. Big changes are expected this year; we will be terminating our agreement with SIM Library come June, whittling down our print collections and moving them to a remote storage facility to be retrieved and delivered upon request. We will also be transforming the Materials Collection Centre (Block C, Level 2) into our physical library space while on current premises, one which I hope you will take care of as you would your own study.
I am all that is left of the founding team and on 31 March, I, too, will take my leave. I am entrusting the Library to the capable hands of the present team and I wish you every success in your learning, teaching and research journey at SUSS.
Director, Digital Library Services and Director of the Library
23 March 2022