Advantages of a Center for Learning Resources

Shortly before his retirement, Edgar Dale, the distinguished professor of education at the Ohio State University, summariz¬ed the major issue about the use of learning resources in higher education by stating that some persons discuss learning re¬sources as though there were a real choice as to whether we should introduce them into higher education. That decision has already been made. The only choice that remains is, he added, "whether we use learning resources wisely and plan for them, or whether we use them grudgingly, ineptly, and planlessly [in Curl, 1967, p. 24-251 ." Part of such a choice concerns the degree of centralization of learning resources that is planned for on a university campus. The campus administration can decide: to leave learning resources development and management entire¬ly to the individual academic departments; to centralize only certain types, such as educational television; to organize all learning resources under some central system.
In this book, a center for learning resources is defined as an organized activity consisting of a director, staff, and equipment housed in one or more specialized facilities for the production, procurement, and presentation of instruction21 materials and the provision of developmental and planning services related to the curriculum and teaching on a general university campus.

The first organization of visual education in the colleges and universities appeared in conjunction with extension divisions formed in the early 1900s. Expansion of media services to in¬clude on-campus activities was a later and overlapping develop¬ment that dated from the establishment of audiovisual centers in the 1930s and 1940s. As on-campus media services expanded, they were sometimes allied to extension programs and some-times not [Brown and Norberg, 1965]. The expansion of media services at the University of California is an example of media services developing from a strong alliance with extension serv¬ices.
Although many major universities in the United States had established centralized facilities for on-campus activities, includ¬ing television, between 1948 and 1960, that was not the case with the University of California. In support of extension's off-campus activities, an impressive collection of instructional materials and devices had been assembled, mainly motion pic¬ture films. On-campus departments of instruction arranged to draw upon these resources and to supplement them with direct departmental purchases.
This arrangement worked reasonably well during the late 1940s and the 1950s because University Extension media activ¬ities were centered in Berkeley and Los Angeles. As the Univer¬sity expanded to nine decentralized campuses, this arrangement became increasingly cumbersome for on-campus instruction.
The expansion of Santa Barbara is a case in point. Following the move from the Riviera campus to the Goleta campus in 1954, it became necessary to establish a small audiovisual serv¬ice as a part of the library. In 1963, Audio-Visual Services moved from extremely limited space in the Library to quarters in the Arts Building. At the same time, the administration estab¬lished initial provisions for the coordination of Audio-Visual Services and Educational Television Services as a separate entity that has now grown into a full-fledged Office of Learning fie-sources. Other campuses followed a similar pattern.
In Los Angeles in 1962, the Chancellor established the Aca¬demic Communications Facility, which was intended to provide a full range of learning-resources service at no charge to the academic departments for formal on-campus instruction. With
the subsequent decentralization of control of University Exten¬sion activities to the several campuses it became increasingly difficult to justify the maintenance of separate learning re¬sources facilities for on-campus instruction and for Extension.
As of June 1971, seven of the nine campuses of the Univer¬sity of California had campuswide learning resources centers, if the facilities of the Medical Schools at Davis, Irvine, and San Diego are considered along with the general campus facilities in this category.
The diversity of terminology noted in the previous chapter is illustrated on these seven campuses: each of the learning re¬sources centers has a different name. Yet in the past decade all but two of the Chancellors have found it advantageous to move toward centralization of the service and management of learning resources.
The University of California Libraries do not appear to have played a significant role in the development of learning re¬sources as defined in this report. On only two of the new campuses—Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz—were the new librar¬ies assigned organizational responsibility for learning resources, and this responsibility was subsequently shifted away from them. On all other campuses, the libraries have had little to do with learning resources. One campus has given the following reason for separating learning resources from the activities of its library [Planning Guide for Project 908074, 1969, p. 5] ;
[Non-print instructional materials] differ from library materials in that they are more complex; require specialized production, storage, distribution and display facilities; and depend for their most econ¬omical and efficient use on electro-mechanical technologies.
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