About hixson2015

I am the Dean of University Libraries at Florida Atlantic University, starting August 11, 2015. I have been a librarian for more than 30 years and have been a library dean for more than 10 years. I started and managed another Library Dean's blog at my last institution, USF St. Petersburg, which can ve viewed by looking for "poynterdean"

Black History Month

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February is Black History Month in the United States.  The origins of this monthly celebration and commemoration lie with Dr. Carter G. Woodson. As explained on the website of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, in 1915 Dr. Woodson “traveled from Washington, D.C. to participate in a national celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of emancipation sponsored by the state of Illinois. Thousands of African Americans travelled from across the country to see exhibits highlighting the progress their people had made since the destruction of slavery… Despite being held at the Coliseum, the site of the 1912 Republican convention, an overflow crowd of six to twelve thousand waited outside for their turn to view the exhibits. Inspired by the three-week celebration, Woodson decided to form an organization to promote the scientific study of black life and history  ,,, and formed the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH).”  After decades of celebrating with a week of exhibits and events every February, “In 1976, fifty years after the first celebration, the Association used its influence to institutionalize the shifts from a week to a month and from Negro history to black history.”

The FAU Libraries, both at the Wimberly Library in Boca Raton and the MacArthur Library in Jupiter, have mounted a multi-media exhibit celebrating the contributions of just a small selection of the “Ordinary and Extraordinary Americans” who have contributed so much to the history and culture of the United States.

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The title of the exhibit was inspired by a quotation from the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, who said, “A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things.”  We selected thirty-two of these extraordinary African-Americans to feature in this year’s exhibit, from the past and the present and from all walks of life, ranging from President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama,

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to celebrated artists and writers, like Faith Ringgold, James Baldwin, and Octavia Butler

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to politicians, past and present, such as John Lewis, Shirley Chisholm, and Kamala Harris

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to some of the legends of the Civil Rights movement like Jesse Jackson and Julian Bond

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to scientists and explorers like Neil deGrasse Tyson and astronaut Mae Jemison

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to musical geniuses like Jimi Hendrix, Marian Anderson, Beyoncé, and Don Shirley.

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To see all the featured people, come by and experience the exhibit featuring items from our collections, look at the slideshow, listen to music or the speech of Julian Bond at the listening station, or pick up a button featuring one of your personal heroes. Check out their inspiring words and “make a difference about something other than yourselves.”

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Welcome to Spring 2019

The spring 2019 semester started January 5, 2019 and we have hit the ground running. To our new students, welcome to FAU and the FAU Libraries! To our returning students, here’s wishing you continued success. Whether you are new or returning, we want you to think of the Libraries as your home away from home – the place where you can always get help, where you can connect with friends and study partners, where you can focus on your assignments, where you can relax when you have a few minutes.

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Students enjoying the new Diversity Burrow in the Wimberly Library

The semester has been super busy for us in the Libraries and for our students. On January 10, I hosted the first “Donuts with the Dean” event of the spring semester in the lobby of the Wimberly Library,  an informal time for me to chat with students and hand out free coffee, tea, and Munchkins from Dunkin Donuts.

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We also reopened our newly redesigned quiet study space on the 4th floor of Wimberly, featuring new flooring, comfortable and attractive furnishings, greatly expanded access to power, and open views of the outside balcony with wonderful natural lighting. The before and after pictures tell the story more effectively than any words can.

 

It’s hard to believe that we are already three weeks into the semester! We have a lot planned for you this semester so keep coming in and telling us what you need.

Welcome back and good luck!

Stop the Hate: Tolerance and Celebration of Diversity

I have written before about the fundamental principles of librarianship that require at least tolerance and at best a celebration of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and points of view.

Every day, locally and nationally, we are confronted by examples of intolerance, hatred, and fear of anyone who is different or who has been defined as the “other”. It is imperative that all of us challenge our own fears and prejudices, stand up in solidarity with those who are being targeted, and denounce the acts of hatred, violence, and bigotry.  None of us should think that we are immune from bigotry and attacks, because the definition of who is the “other” and who is the “enemy” can change overnight.

The horrific slaughter on October 27 of eleven people worshipping at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh is, unfortunately, not a rare event. On November 1, anti-Semitic writings in a synagogue in New York City caused classes and scheduled events to be canceled, and sowed fear in the local community.  There are many incidents of threatening, violent, and offensive behavior around the country, and the world. Close to home, in August 2018 a video showing a man holding up a sign on a street in Boca Raton proclaiming that the Holocaust was a lie and accusing Jews of horrific acts caused fear and disgust among the local community.

On university campuses in Florida and beyond, fliers are found almost every day proclaiming the superiority of the white race or denouncing Jews, African-Americans, LGBTQ people, or some other group perceived to be a threat by the originators of the hate literature. Organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, and many others have documented the rise in recruiting by hate groups that is happening on college and university campuses. 

Intolerance can take many forms, some of which may seem relatively minor or innocent. Recently, a student expressed displeasure to a library staff member because he took offense at an item in an exhibit on the T-Shirt as a Political Vehicle that represented a political point of view he did not share. That student failed to notice that the items on exhibit represented many different points of view and wanted to have the item that offended him removed.

Censorship of ideas, vitriol and vandalism against people we don’t understand, bombings targeting political opponents, shootings of people who are feared or considered offensive – these are all points on the same slippery slope of intolerance.

FAU’s Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education  posted a message following the slaughter in Pittsburgh that eloquently states what is in my own heart: “The outrage caused by this senseless, hatred-filled act has traveled far beyond the Jewish communities of this Synagogue, the families and friends of the victims, and first responders. It has united the entire community and been felt across U.S. and the world. We hope the world-wide response to this tragedy will encourage each of us to think about how we treat each other. Hopefully it is with respect to everyone regardless of who ever that is. Each of us has worth and something to contribute to our communities.”

The FAU Libraries stand in solidarity with the Jewish community that has been targeted in such terrible fashion in recent days. We stand in solidarity with any individual or group who has been shunned, shamed, humiliated, threatened, intimidated, attacked, or killed because someone feared or hated them. We are hosting our third annual Human Library event on November 8 in celebration of the diversity of our university and our community. You are invited to come help us stand up to hate and intolerance. Other events to help Stop the Hate will follow soon.

Ongoing Renovations in Wimberly

Responding to student requests for changes in facilities and services is what motivates us in the Libraries. While some of the changes are major and some are relatively small in scope, they are all founded on a desire to create better, more functional, and more enjoyable spaces for the FAU community.

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Some of the recent changes made this fall include adding more charging stations, adding more white boards, and adding light filters to some of the windows by the study rooms on the third and fourth floors (shown below).

 

 

We have also added six new study rooms since last spring, including one designed for individual study and another designed to meet the needs of students with special needs who require privacy to complete some assignments.

On October 12, we also opened the new Diversity Burrow in its permanent home, just across from Dunkin Donuts on the first floor.  The space used to be the home of the former Circulation Desk (shown below)

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The former Circulation Desk in the Wimberly Library

That area has no been repurposed to provide an inviting space for students to gather, to study alone, to read, to hang out. The Libraries staff took great pleasure in designing the space and donating furniture and artwork, as well as buying books and furnishings specially chosen for the spot. As we are able, we will continue to repurpose and redesign spaces to provide more seating, better functionality, and greater comfort.

 

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Students enjoying the new Diversity Burrow in the Wimberly Library

Our next project is to complete the redesign of the 4th floor quiet study space. That project was due to have been completed before the start of the fall semester but delays mean that it will be opened later this semester. When finished, there will be additional seating, better access to power and natural light, a cleaner space with new flooring, and a variety of seating options.

We have many more projects being planned, all dependent upon finding some funds to carry them out. Keep checking in and let us know what you think as we move forward.

 

 

 

Diversity and Library Collections

This semester, the Wimberly Library opened up a space for its new Diversity Burrow. This is a collection of a few hundred books (some newly acquired and some pulled from the existing collection) whose purpose is to provide a quick, deep dive into the variety of perspectives and life experiences that are represented in our general collection. Its permanent home, which will be across from Dunkin Donuts,  will be a comfortable space for people to sit down, relax, browse the collection, and get an insight into the wide variety of books they can find in the libraries’ collections overall. For now, the Burrow’s temporary home is in the first floor lobby, next to the exhibit cases.

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Diversity Burrow Collection, photo by Sarah Elsesser

Libraries in North America are committed to building collections and designing services that meet the needs of all people from all backgrounds. This is especially true of academic libraries which have the added responsibility of building collections that support a wide array of academic programs. We are committed to principles of inclusion and diversity through our professional associations, such as the American Library Association (ALA). The Library Bill of Rights specifies that collections, services, and spaces should serve all members of the community and that “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues.” ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services provides resources, policies, and guidelines for all libraries to utilize in meeting the broad and varied needs of their communities.

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Comfy seating in Diversity Burrow, photo by Steven Matthew

The Wimberly Library’s Diversity Burrow is just one manifestation of the FAU Libraries’ efforts to “Develop a culture that serves as a model of diversity and inclusion for staff and for the Libraries’ patrons,” as articulated in our strategic goals. Come check out this interesting, eclectic collection of literature, history, art, and more and broaden your horizons! And, if you find something that piques your interest, check out the same call number range in the catalog or the stacks and you’ll discover even more.

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Diversity Burrow Collection, photo by Sarah Elsesser

 

 

Libraries and Democracy

Yesterday during my Donuts with the Dean event in the Wimberly Library, I had many interesting discussions with new and returning students about their hopes and plans for their academic careers and their lives. FAU’s students are focused, smart, and articulate.donutswith deanMany of the conversations touched on the importance of reading and staying informed and several students shared their concerns about various situations in the country. When I asked those people if they were registered to vote, the answer was “no.” Those conversations with those bright, talented young people inspired me to write this post.

There has been a lot of focus recently on the importance of the upcoming mid-term elections in the United States. By tradition and according to professional ethics, libraries in North America do not take sides in any political debate. Our goal is to help our users locate the information and the resources they need to make up their own minds about any issue.

Academic libraries, like the FAU Libraries, focus many of their services and programs on students. Many of our students are first-time or less experienced voters. To help our students (or any member of the FAU community) figure out for themselves how to evaluate candidates and understand the issues, we are offering a special workshop on October 18 entitled Election 2018: Researching Candidates and Issues.  This 50 minute workshop takes place in the Wimberly Library starting at noon. To register for the workshop, please use the online form.

The State of Florida has an online site for voter registration that explains what you need in order to register. It’s easy as long as you have identification. The deadline to register in Florida for an upcoming election is 29 days before that election.  If the deadline has passed, you can still submit an online application at any time and it will be processed for future elections.  If you’re a permanent resident of another state, those states will also have sites for online voter registration that you can find by searching the Internet. The Florida deadline for registering in time for the November 2018 election is October 9.

FAU’s Weppner Center for LEAD and Service-Learning also has a Voter Engagement web site with information and resources.

The Libraries will help you find the information you need to make up your mind for the fall 2018 and future elections. But only you can take care of your voter registration and then get out and vote!

Welcome to FAU Libraries and the 2018-2019 Academic Year!

Bienvenidos a las Bibliotecas de FAU! Bienvenue aux bibliothèques de la FAU! Byenvini nan Bibliyotèk FAU yo!

Welcome to the new academic year in the FAU Libraries.  For those of you who are new to FAU, we invite you to discover our spaces, our collections, and the services offered by our welcoming, professional faculty and staff at three different locations: Boca Raton, Jupiter, and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. For students and faculty in Davie and Fort Lauderdale, our partnerships with Broward County and Broward College provide you direct access to library spaces and materials, in addition to being able to use all of the collections and services available to all FAU students and faculty at the FAU-run branch libraries.

For those of you who are returning, you will see that we have been busy while you were away for the summer.

Based on feedback from over 1100 students who participated in a spring 2018 library satisfaction survey, we have made or are in the process of making numerous enhancements to our library spaces and services.

  • We are in the process of renovating the fourth floor study area in Wimberly to provide a brighter, more comfortable quiet study space with improved access to power
  • We converted four staff offices in Wimberly to group study rooms, with a fifth one in the works
  • We are converting a former staff office space in Wimberly into a private study space for students with specialized accessibility needs
  • We purchased more white boards to increase access to this popular resource
  • We updated all the computers in the Alumni Alcove of the Wimberly Library
  • We have increased our collection of course materials on Reserve and have created a new tool for students to locate print and electronic course materials for their classes
  • We are removing the old circulation desk in Wimberly and will be creating a comfortable reading nook just inside the front entrance where students can relax and enjoy books on a wide variety of subjects
  • We will be launching a student advisory committee to help us review options for additional action items
  • We are partnering with Student Government to explore extended hours
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Students enjoying the great spaces in the Wimberly Library

The FAU Libraries are here to serve all the students and faculty of FAU, regardless of their field of study, their physical location, or their backgrounds. We are on the move, constantly evaluating our spaces, our collections, and our services. There will be many new exhibits, programs, and events at the Libraries this year. We encourage everyone to come check things out, provide us feedback, and use our services, either physically or virtually, to ensure your academic success as a member of the FAU community.

Check us out physically or virtually on our Website or on our Facebook page or other social media sites.

We are here for you!