Alumni get library access

By Erin Kelley

The Alumni Association is always looking for ways to be a resource for students and alumni, said Joe Rank, vice president of membership of the Alumni Association. And librarians “by nature” want to share information they have. It seemed logical for the two to team up to provide a new database for alumni around the world to view more than 4,000 publications through the library gateway.

“For years alumni who have graduated and don’t have a (University ID) and are living all over the world have wanted the access (to publications),” Rank said.

The database is a cooperative venture between the alumni association and libraries in Urbana, Chicago and Springfield. The program will provide graduates with the same access to newspapers, magazines, trade publications and other journals and periodicals they enjoyed as a student.

The association has kept the announcement very low key for the July 1st launch. An e-mail was sent out prior to the date to staff. The association plans to notify members through e-mail and in the alumni magazine this fall. Later, an announcement will be made to all non-member graduates so they are aware of the service as well.

Rank feels the database is a valuable service and makes the association different from other alumni associations; it is providing its members with an academic benefit instead of focusing on sports, contributions and general “hooray” alumni associations are usually known for.

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“I am really excited about it. It is something our members can take advantage of,” Rank said.

For years, alumni have not been able to access the publications due to licensing issues, but Rank feels that they have come up with a solution to that problem. Members of the association log on using their username and password which allows the association to authenticate and verify people using the database. It is very important to know that the articles are being used for research and academic purposes and are not be copied and distributed elsewhere.

Paula Kaufman, a University librarian, said a concern is that not every publication will be available.

Rank is confident that the database will provide more than enough for alumni.

“Four thousand titles is absolutely mind boggling – any publication you can think of is on that list,” he said.

The database is a good deal for alumni too, Rank said. The membership for the association is $45, whereas a subscription for one of the professional journals offered on the database could cost hundreds of dollars. The members of the association are getting a lot in return for their membership fee, he said.

“This is a break through,” Rank said. “We are one of very few institutions that have attempted something like this. We brag about being the biggest and best library yet someone in Tibet with a PhD from Illinois, what good is the library to them?”

The online service is also a good opportunity for the Alumni association to continue to be a world-wide network that provides connections for students and alumni for career information, jobs and internships.

“I really feel strongly that this has potential to transform how people look at the Alumni Association,” Rank said.