Ryan Litsey, an associate librarian who is head of Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery at Texas Tech, received the Library Journal’s 2016 Movers and Shakers award. This award, which was in the subcategory of technology, was given because of his work on Occam’s Reader.
Litsey said that Occam’s Reader is the first and only library-developed method to lend e-books through interlibrary loan.
Litsey and Kenny Ketner, the software development manager for the library, created the method at Tech, Litsey said, and 24 libraries across the country use Occam’s Reader after a successful pilot program.
Ketner said the award shows five years of work that got them to the point that they are at now.
Litsey said the Movers and Shakers award is one of the more prestigious awards people give out in libraries.
“The Library Journal has been giving it out since 2002,” Litsey said. “In the state of Texas, only 29 other people have won it. It’s one of the readily recognizable awards you can win in libraries.”
Once Ketner found out that Litsey had received the award, he said he was not only excited for Litsey, but was excited for the whole program.
“When we got word of Ryan getting the award,” Ketner said, “we were excited for him to receive the honor and for Occam’s Reader to be recognized as changing the library world significantly.”
Litsey got the idea for Occam’s Reader when he first came to Tech in 2010, he said.
“I had this preliminary idea as e-books become more and more prevalent in the academic library,” Litsey said. “How can we share these resources with other libraries like we are doing with other books?”
Nora Dethloff, assistant head of Information and Access Services at the University of Houston, said libraries needed to find a way to share e-books. Occam’s Reader gives students, who prefer to read off an electronic format, the chance to get those e-books from other campuses.
Occam’s Reader also gives students the opportunity to get access to books they would not have access to otherwise, Litsey said. Occam’s Reader has access to collections from multiple publishers, which equals to millions of titles to choose from.
This helps students with different citations and different books they need for assignments like research papers, Litsey said.
“When students are doing their research and writing their papers and they come across a citation or want to look at a book that they want to use for a paper that we don’t have,” he said, “they can now make a request for the electronic book through the Occam’s Reader program.”
The students can access these books on their tablets or their cell phones, Litsey said.
With 24 universities involved, Occam’s Reader helps approximately 600,000 users, he said, and he wants 70 universities to join the program by the end of the year.
Ketner said the program moves the library into a more technological direction.
“Occam’s Reader fulfills the basic role as a library in the 21st century as everything is moving more digitally,” Ketner said. “For libraries to do things that they have done for thousands of years, we had to create new tools.”
Litsey said that getting this award helps him professionally, but he gets the most joy out of the international recognition the university gets out of the award.
“What I really like about it is that it shows Texas Tech as a cutting edge research institution,” he said. “When you go to places, it’s not Ryan the librarian who got the award, it’s Ryan from Texas Tech University who got the award.”