Summer isn’t always a time to slow down…

There is a common misperception that those of us in the library have a long break during the summer.  Many of us do get to take vacations, but the summer is usually quite busy and very productive for us.  This summer, in particular, was full of activity.  So, let me share a little information on some of our activities while many of you were away.

New spaces – Most folks are aware that there was construction on level 2 of the library.  We’re very excited to show off our new space and hope you will join us on September 18, from 3:30-5:00 p.m., when we will hold an open house for the campus community. In addition to seeing level 2, you’ll be able to check out our newly refurbished reading room on the main level that includes a new fireplace.  We’ve also created more study space on the lower level.  In addition to all the construction, we survived the replacement of our elevator, which created a few challenges for retrieving and shelving books.  And it is the second year of a three-year-project to replace carpet throughout the library, so we have newly installed carpet on level 3.  We are fairly proud of the fact that despite the construction, we were able to keep the library open for the entire summer, including time for visiting scholars here for the NEH-funded “World Religions and World Religions Discourse: Challenges of Teaching the Religions of the World” hosted by Jim Laine, Philosophy.  You can see images of the progress this summer on our Flickr Account with later images on our Instagram account.

Information LIteracy Program Learning Goals and Outcomes – The Reference and Instruction Librarians were very busy during the summer creating a new action plan for our instruction program.  One of the key documents that was developed was  a new detailed description of learning goals for various levels of students.  The librarians also worked on preparing for a pilot program in one of the first year courses.  Working with Professor Chris Wells, the librarians are looking at how to develop a program that goes beyond a one-shot classroom session.  In addition to these two projects, the librarians developed a three-year plan for strategic directions they want to take with our instruction program.  We will be sharing the details of these projects on our website after the start of the semester.

NEH Grant for an Open Textbook Project – We were so thrilled when we received word that a grant submitted by Britt Abel and Ron Joslin was approved to help fund development of Britt’s open textbook for German language instruction.  Britt and Ron have shared information on this project at CST lunch discussions and during a SPAW session last May.  We will provide more updates once we are able to share more details about this ongoing project.

Annual Report – We completed our annual summary of events in the library for 2016-17.  It was another year full of events and activities.  You can read our Annual Report online.

Staff Changes –  We welcomed a new staff member, Trisha Burr, as Electronic Resources Librarian and said farewell to Nate Nins, one of our Evening/Weekend Supervisors.  We wish Nate all the best as he starts a new position working with 3M’s service, biblioteca.  We look forward to welcoming a new Evening/Weekend Supervisor sometime during September.

Loss of a dear friend of the library – It was with deep sadness that we learned of the passing in July of Professor Emeritus Ellis Dye, German.  As one of the tenants on the fourth level with other retired faculty, I enjoyed many conversations with Ellis and he always had a warm, genuine smile.  He was always so appreciative of the interlibrary loan service.  We miss his presence in the building.

Possibly the biggest shock for us this summer – On August 2, it was announced via social media that bepress, our vendor who provides Digital Commons and our Selected Works pages, was acquired by Elsevier.  For those of us who have participated in efforts to expand open access to scholarship this was a sincere blow. The library community has many concerns about this acquisition. One of the best pieces that I have read was written about the need for non-profits to control scholarly communication.  Posted by the London School of Economics, you can read more on the blog posting entitled “Scholarly communications shouldn’t just be open, but non-profit too.”   Many conversations are taking place in terms of possible options and whether there are new opportunities to explore if we were to migrate away from the bepres platform.

LibGuides – Other projects included preparing a guide for the faculty retreat this fall on the topic of the Liberal Arts in the 21st Century, with links to both the RPC report and related background readings.  We also have prepared a guide for the International Roundtable in October:  Empathy and Its Discontents.  Faculty may be interested in some of the non-discipline specific guides the Research and Instruction Librarians have prepared on academic integrity and data management.  You’ll find these guides under the “All Guides” tab.

New Electronic Signage – We’re in the process of installing a new electronic sign that will appear on the main level and advertise events in the building.  We hope to have this in place by the second week of classes.

Those are just the highlights.  We have a lot to celebrate at the start of the new year. In addition to the open house on September 18th, we hope you will mark your calendars for the first Faculty Staff Happy Hour on September 27 from 3:30-5:30 in the Harmon Room.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Welcome back, and best wishes for a great start to the new academic year!  If you want to stop by and see our new spaces before the 18th, President Brian Rosbenberg is graciously covering coffee and pastries for the first couple of weeks for the first hours of the day.  We hope you’ll enjoy the changes we have made.



Realizing a Vision

Last month I wrote about “Our Community as Creators.”  Continuing on that theme, I want to address some comments that have been made regarding our summer project for Level 2 of the library.  This project will result in realizing many aspects of a vision we shared four years ago.  Vision 2020 was written when we were celebrating the 25th anniversary of the DeWitt Wallace Library.  Now, four years later, it is especially helpful in connecting current students, faculty, and staff to our aspirations for the library spaces.

“Our vision for the Dewitt Wallace Library of 2020 is to expand and build up our current  vibrant and active space for engaging scholars.  We want a library that contributes to the transformative experience for all students as well as a space that will attract faculty to utilize our space, resources, and expertise…[a] primary emphasis for the library of 2020 will continue to be on the services we provide to support the scholarship of faculty and students.” [Vision 2020, p. 1]

Our vision for the DeWitt Wallace Library of 2020 has always been about scholarship, teaching, and learning.  However, we also envisioned a change as a result of providing access to more electronic content and fewer print, hard-copy materials.  In our vision, we outlined a plan for managing our print collection in order to allow us to do more with the spaces we have.  In that document, we focused on what we would like to see in our spaces with seven potential developments:

  • Content Creation Labs
  • More Comfortable Quiet Reading Spaces
  • More Comfortable Collaborative Working Spaces
  • Classroom 2020 Learning Lab
  • Special Collections – Expanding access and space
  • Media Collections Consolidated
  • Expanded Hours Study Space

Many recent comments I have received have focused on our “gutting the library” or turning the entire second floor into space for Entrepreneurship.  Neither is true, but the partnership with Kate Ryan Reiling, Entrepreneur in Residence, is one that we actively sought because we saw that many aspects of our vision for spaces meshed well with goals that Kate has.  It is especially the “Content Creation Labs” that have a close affinity to the work being done with Entrepreneurship and that is why we believe it is a good fit for the programs the library staff hope to provide in new spaces.  The entire first five items listed in our vision will be addressed in some manner in our project for the second level.  That alone is one reason why those of us in the library who had a shared vision for our spaces by 2020 are delighted to have this opportunity.

Our vision for Special Collections was written before Media Services moved into the lower level of the library, so that portion of the vision has changed.  However, we did envision more space for teaching and working with students with rare books and archival materials.  That is another aspect of the plans that I am thrilled to see will be realized by the end of the summer, connected to existing Rare Books and Archives spaces.  We’re already talking about the various programs we will be able to offer in that space in addition to working with classes in the fine arts, humanities, and social sciences.

The planning team for this project includes two student representatives, a faculty representative, and campus leadership.  The full planning team:

  • David Wheaton, VP Administration and Finance
  • Karine Moe, Provost
  • Kate Reiling, Entrepreneur in Residence
  • Angi Faiks, Associate Library Director
  • Jody Emmings, Entrepreneurship Coordinator
  • Terri Fishel, Library Director
  • Nathan Lief, Director of Facilities
  • Matthew Meyer, Associate Director of Facilities
  • Donna Lee, VP Student Affairs
  • Ted Wilder, Associate Director of ITS
  • Chris Wells (faculty rep)
  • Remy Eisendrath (student rep)
  • Sam Greenstein (student rep, library student employee)

There have been stories  in the MacWeekly, a number of listening sessions in the library, and three of the four sessions to discuss the future of the library, with one more session remaining.  In addition, we are holding a session during National Library Week to discuss the draft floor plans.

One aspect of working in academic libraries that I continue to enjoy is the opportunity to work with a younger population who are learning and often embracing new ideas.  As I shared with a colleague recently, the aspect of work that I enjoy most is contributing to the process of opening minds to new ideas and seeing possibilities rather than barriers.  Currently, I continue to respond to messages from individuals who are seeing more barriers than possibilities in our summer project.  However, I am very excited to see our long-held vision become reality during the summer and I want to share more details with the entire community.  As we stressed, and will continue to emphasize, books are at the heart of what we do and will always be so.  Books are never going away.  What is changing is the opportunity to provide spaces that enable creation in all forms, allowing our community members to create with their hands as well as their minds, contributing to new scholarship, new ideas, new solutions, new experiences, and new creations.  We are excited by the possibilities and I invite anyone who wants to know more to join David Wheaton, Angi Faiks, and me on Thursday, April 13th at noon in the Harmon Room.  We will share the current draft of the floor plan and will provide a general overview of the spaces and areas that are being developed.  It is my hope that more minds will be opened to the possibilities that we are creating and that more people will share our excitement about this fabulous opportunity.  I hope you will join us in conversation next week.  And lest I forget, food will be provided.  I look forward to seeing you there.

Attached is a draft of the remodel plan that we will be discussing next Thursday.  20170405_Macalester Library In Progress Plan_