Athabasca University Library:Services of a Global

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Athabasca University (AU) is Canada’s Open University, specializing in the provision of distance education courses at the post-secondary level. The admission requirement for undergraduate students is that applicants to the University be 18 years of age. Students may take courses leading to a number of certificates and degrees. AU offers 14 university certificate programs, 2 university diploma programs, 13 undergraduate degree programs, and 5 graduate programs.

Since 1995 the University has witnessed dramatic growth. Course enrolments over the past 3 - 5 years have increased by more than 50%. Undergraduate program registrations have increased by more than 41%; graduate-level registrations have increased by more than 289%. Accessibility to courses, the ability to register in courses year-round, and fewer barrier to studying at a conventional university are the main reasons cited by students for studying at Athabasca University. Surveys of Athabasca University students reveal that the vast majority of students would recommend AU to a friend or colleague.

Approximately one-half of the student body is comprised of visiting students – students who take an AU course with the intent of transferring the credits to another university. Reasons for transferring credits primarily are that courses are not always offered at the student's home institution, there may be time tabling difficulties at the student's home institution, or that students choose to take an independent study course in addition to the course load at the home institution, and without the apparent restrictions surrounding attendance in a classroom. The number of students who enroll in a course at AU to transfer the credits to their home institution is also increasing at a steady rate.

The number of AU graduates is increasing year by year – the number of credentials awarded in 1999 was 38% higher then the number of credentials awarded in 1998.

The growth rate in course registrations is now at an unprecedented level, and is largely attributed to the quality of the learning experience offered to the student. High-quality materials are prepared and provided in a complete package to students upon enrolment. High-quality support services are provided to registered student and are included in the tuition fee. Among the various units in the University that provide support services to students, it is believed that quality library services contribute to the growth and success of Athabasca University.

The findings in 1997 of a series of teleconference focus groups conducted by AU Library support the notion that quality library services are valued and contribute to the successful completion of courses. Participants in the focus groups reported that they were highly satisfied with materials supplied from the Library and that Library staff are knowledgeable and helpful and “go the extra mile” to help. Students reported that they appreciated that materials were
sent to them could be returned to the Library postage paid by the University. Participants also confirmed the notion that more AU students are acquiring computer equipment and obtaining connectivity to the Internet. More AU students, it is concluded, want to do more of their searching and researching. AU Library is working diligently in this regard by licensing more databases for remote access using the Internet. Most students were satisfied with the available on-line services and reported that some students may be unaware of such services. Participants also reported that there is a need for more instruction and explanation of techniques to access the available services.

Library Services

Athabasca University Library provides a wide range of library services to students registered in AU courses. Every registered student may benefit by the following services provided to them by AU Library.

· Students may borrow materials from AU Library.

· Students may search AUCAT (the library catalog) and other information resources available on the AU Library
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