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Library Quarterly Report FY24 Q1: July-Sept 2023



his quarter the library made great strides in returning to normal operations as Pandemic restrictions fade into the past and the VTRC workforce is being fully "reconstituted." However, we suspect this quarter also marks a turning point for the VDOT workforce and perhaps the workplace more generally. More employees in more roles in all districts and divisions appear to be teleworking and accessing library resources and services remotely than ever before. We have also seen ongoing workforce turnover and we are reaching out to VDOT HR to establish a targeted onboarding system for new employees who are most likely to become library users. 

We saw record database usage this quarter. First was the all-time record number of downloads from subscription databases at 4,684. Second was a record level of downloads from the journal Transportation Research Record (TRR), the library's first online subscription, acquired in 2007. When TRR first went online VDOT averaged around 250 articles a quarter. TRR ceased print publication in 2017, but online use has only grown. In July alone VDOT employees downloaded 273 articles from TRR. Combined online access/downloads and hard-copy access of all library resources topped out at an amazing 4,801 items, also a new record in overall library resource usage. 


As a part of VTRC's 75th anniversary preparations, Ken Winter compiled a white paper spanning 1998-2023 (updating VTRC's 50th anniversary publication "Fifty years of excellence in research: The Virginia Transportation Research Council 1948-1998," by Ann Miller). That document, titled "VDOT Research Library History: 1998-2023" serves as a comprehensive and well-sourced history (it cites 75 sources) describing the library's evolution during that era. Winter also compiled a briefer 8-page version titled, "Highlights In the History of the VDOT Research Library: 1998-2023."


Literature search requests have begun to recover from record lows in the past year and a half. During this time we completed an average of 1.16 searches a quarter, down from our 10-year average of 4.6 searches a quarter. This quarter we completed 2 searches with more requests underway for completion next quarter. The library (which has been understaffed since April 2023) is advertising for two new 1500-hour positions as our workload picks up.


Finally, the library added access to a supplemental record (in pdf format) for the VTRC report 24-R2 "Documentation and Evaluation of ASTM A709 Grade 50CR Steel Bridges on Virginia’s Eastern Shore."

Library Establishes Agencywide Access to Fiber Optics Standards From ANSI/TIA

On the content front, the library worked with members of VDOT's Right of Way division in Northern Virginia to acquire agencywide access to a series of 11 telecommunications standards from the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). These specialized standards are specified in VDOT's Road and Bridge Plans, Road, Bridge Specifications and test plans, but VDOT employees have never had direct access to them. This turned out to be an expensive and complex undertaking, but we were able to license them through reseller IHS and we are working to set up self-service access to them through an online portal that library staffers have used for many years to download and deliver one-off standards to customers. We expect access to take several months to fully establish, at which point we will promote the new resources. 

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