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The University Library is struggling to obtain student and faculty feedback on a one-month trial of a materials science database, said Lee Pedersen, scholarly resources librarian. The database — called Material ConneXion — provides information about a wide variety of materials often used in visual arts and industrial design.

Library administrators will decide whether or not to purchase an annual subscription after the trial period ends April 1, she said.

The live database is used primarily in industry — few universities purchase subscriptions due to its high cost. Though she did not disclose the exact cost of an annual subscription, Pedersen indicated that it is between $3,000 and $10,000.

The library often tests out research databases. But the typical trial lasts about two weeks, and only library administrators assess the service, Pedersen said.

Administrators pushed for a longer trial period for Material ConneXion to allow input from faculty and students. But feedback so far has been "very limited," Pedersen said.

"It's extremely important with the limited resources that the library has that we have a level of enthusiasm to get something this new, and so far we haven't heard any serious enthusiasm," Pedersen said. "With something like this, we'd need faculty feedback as much as students'."

"Each year, the library receives many requests for … purchases and subscriptions," David Banush, associate University librarian for access services and collection management, wrote in an email to The Herald. "The dollar value of those requests far exceeds what we have available in our budgets. The library tries to weigh carefully all of the available evidence and allocate its funds to provide the widest access to the broadest set of resources we can."

The initial recommendation for the database came from Siyi Liu GS, who has been active in promoting the trial. "I want to see if there really (is) the need on campus," Liu said. She said the low level of student and faculty feedback is unfortunate.


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