According to Michelle Hammond, Associate Director of Public Services, the Library has long provided a designated space where students can unwind from their academic studies by reading for pleasure. For many years, this “respite” area was stocked with physical copies of journals, magazines and newspapers.
Over the last four years, however, as more and more students have begun to access information on their mobile devices, use of the Library’s physical reading materials has waned.
“The millennials are digitally inclined, so we wanted to extend that format to their magazine reading,” Hammond said, adding that more and more users are expecting libraries to offer digital services. Bringing Flipster to Morgan State University, she said, “was a common-sense decision.”
Although she knew of other digital magazine vendors, Hammond felt that Flipster was the most intuitive product on the market.
“I didn’t spend any more of my valuable time looking more deeply into the other solutions because the Flipster platform was so advanced and user-friendly,” Hammond said. “Even though there were only a few Flipster titles when we started, I had the confidence in EBSCO’s brand that they would do their best in negotiating for additional titles. I knew they would put a team behind the product to make sure it became a platform that offered the heavy-hitting materials I was going to need.”
Those materials include a number of “must-have” business magazines such as Forbes and Bloomberg Businessweek ― titles that will prove beneficial to students and faculty when Morgan State University launches an online MBA program this fall. In addition, Hammond said, many of the peer-reviewed journals will assist in curriculum development.
Just as Flipster makes it easy for patrons to browse among a variety of magazines, EBSCOhost Collection Manager (ECM) makes it easy for Hammond to manage the Library’s Flipster subscriptions.
“Things are centralized and organized,” she explained. “I can see my order history, I can see when my subscriptions are going to be coming up for renewal, and then I can do all my ordering. It’s like a one-stop shop.”
Morgan State University implemented Flipster during the 2014-2015 academic year. Currently, a carousel of featured magazines scrolls across the bottom of the library home page. Students can also access Flipster via the website’s “Resources” tab.
“The easier it is to get to, the more likely they are to engage with it more frequently,” Hammond said.
While a formal launch and marketing campaign is not planned until Fall 2016, Hammond and her colleagues have begun promoting Flipster to patrons by word of mouth and on social media.
In addition, the Library installed a touch-screen computer on the first floor next to the circulation desk. Students can come in and flip through magazines at their leisure.
“It’s becoming a more and more popular place to sit and read,” Hammond said, adding that the Library plans to add four additional touch screens over the summer. “The touch screen recreates the reading experience for the digital native. It’s a great way to feel connected.”
Faculty members are already planning ways to bring Flipster magazine content into their classrooms. They’re also doing their part to get the word out.
Evan Richardson, Assistant to the Dean of Architecture and Planning, is actively promoting Flipster in the School's newsletters and social media sites.
"We think Flipster is great,” Richardson said. “It's good to be able to recommend an article to our students. They're able to easily navigate to it right from the library's [home] page.”
Pia Jordan, a professor in the School of Global Journalism and Communication, said she plans to work with students to produce a news story about Flipster to be featured on BearTV, the campus television channel.
“I was so intrigued with the possibilities,” Jordan said. “We plan to [look at] ways students and faculty can use this new tool."
Hammond said that although digital services are now a natural expectation for library users, they are still excited about the arrival of Flipster.
“It has that ‘cool’ factor,” she said.
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