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KNOXVILLE — When University of Tennessee students arrive on campus this fall, they will find one of the top libraries in the nation.

The current edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education ranks the University of Tennessee libraries 52nd nationally based on overall volumes, recent increase in holdings, current serials, staff and expenditures in 2001. The Chronicle report uses on data from the Association of Research Libraries to achieve its rankings.

The UT libraries 2001 holdings, which include its main campus in Knoxville, Space Institute in Tullahoma and Health Sciences Center in Memphis, total: 2,771,642 volumes, up 76,379 volumes from the previous year; 21,959 current serials; 244 permanent staff members; and expenditures of $17,593,187.

UT libraries’ ranking improved from 65th five years ago, more than any top 50-university library except North Carolina State.

“UT libraries are a valuable resource to our students, staff, community and state,” UT Provost Loren Crabtree said. “We are proud of our excellent libraries’ continued improvement into one of the best in the country.”

UT Libraries Dean Barbara Dewey said circulation of library materials at UT increased by 6 percent in 2001.

“Strong usage of our collections is another indication of excellence here at UT,” Dewey said. “One of the hallmarks of this library is high quality service for faculty and students. The fact that we’ve increased usage is concrete evidence of that.”

Many libraries’ number of volumes and circulation are declining as more people use the Internet for research, but UT has improved both while also expanding online and digital services, Dewey said.

“We are keenly aware of changes in both the nature of scholarly information publishing and the ways in which that information is gathered and used,” Dewey said. “Students create digital multimedia projects, faculty provide more courses online, and researchers want to share their results quickly.

“The UT libraries are building a new generation of services within the digital environment.”

New services and offerings at UT libraries include:
— A production studio where students can create multi-media projects, digitally enhance class assignments and learn digital audio and video editing.
— The Cyber Cafe, with study tables, network computers, wireless access and a coffee shop.
— AskUs-Now, a live interactive reference service.
— Laptop computers for student checkout in Hodges Library.
— Digital Media Service, which helps faculty digitize and deliver instructional materials online.

Dewey said the new services and UT’s improved rankings are made possible by UT’s commitment to its libraries and the hard work of the libraries’ staff.

“UT administrators and faculty recognize the need for a strong library,” Dewey said. “Consequently, the libraries- budget has enjoyed increases in recent years partially offsetting high inflation of library materials.

“The ability to launch these pioneering new services and improve in the rankings is a testament to sound fiscal management, flexible use of resources and the skills of a dedicated library staff.”