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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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

 

 

Welcome to the 2017-2018 Academic Year

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 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.

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Main Branch Broward County Public Library serving FAU students and faculty in Ft. Lauderdale

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

In the Wimberly Library on the Boca Raton campus, we have made some changes you will see as soon as you walk in the door, as well as others that might take you a little longer to discover. As you enter the Wimberly Library, you’ll be struck by the shiny new flooring (getting rid of the ancient green carpeting) that transformed the concrete underneath into a gleaming surface that makes you think you’re walking on water.

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Directly in front of you as you enter the Wimberly Library is the new single service desk. We have removed the old Reference Desk and have discontinued the use of the old Circulation Desk, replacing both of them with a single desk where you can check out books, learn how to use the catalog, get help accessing our electronic journals or databases, pick up a key for a study room, or get detailed reference and research assistance. The goal is for everyone to be able to get connected to help for everything in one place. This is the first phase of a more comprehensive redesign of the first floor that will open up more individual and group seating and increase access to help and newer technology.

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New Single Service Point in Wimberly Library

 

You will see several new charging stations in Wimberly that were provided by Student Government to allow you to charge your mobile devices easily and securely.

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New Charging Station in Wimberly Library

 

Still to come in the spot where the old Reference Desk was will be a new, improved workspace for assistive technology (ADA workstations). This new space will be more central and also provide privacy for students with disabilities. Some of the specialized software and equipment available will include Dragon Naturally Speaking, Kurzweil 3000, JAWS for Windows, ZoomText,Dolphin Easy Reader, Plustek Book Reader V100 Scanner, and the SmartView Xtend video magnifier. We also have available for check out the Eschenbach Electronic Magnifying Glass and the Victor Reader Stream (New Generation). Until the new space is completed, students should check at the Single Service Desk for the location of the equipment and software.

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Location for new ADA Workstations

 

Another improvement can be seen in the group study rooms in Wimberly. The upper walls have been repainted with special paint that can be written on like white boards. In addition, a project funded by the Student Technology Fee will soon be completed to provide new monitors in the group study rooms that will easily connect to the network. Both of these changes should greatly enhance the functionality of the study rooms. In the past two years, we have also increased the number of group study rooms available for checkout by twenty per cent –  from twenty-five to thirty.

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New Whiteboard Walls in Group Study Rooms

 

Graduate students and College of Medicine students will be pleased to discover that there is now a group study room (available for checkout at the front service desk on the first floor) in the spacious Graduate Student Lounge that was opened last year.

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One of the Open Study Areas in the Graduate Student Lounge

 

The crowning jewel for the fall semester is the new multi-purpose space on the fifth floor of the Wimberly Library. In the early summer, we finished phase one of the fifth floor renovation, opening up an entire floor that had previously only been accessible to staff or for special events. We have added over 100 seats for individual and group study, with all kinds of spaces and furniture to meet a wide variety of needs. The floor is an open conversation area but there are many spots where people can study quietly, aided by the privacy screens that surround many seating areas.

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New Fifth Floor Multi-Purpose Space

 

The Wi-Fi has been enhanced on the fifth floor, as well. With lots of natural lighting and comfortable seating, the floor has quickly become a favorite gathering and study place for everyone. The furniture is designed to be easily moved so that we can host lectures and presentations at times when students will not be disrupted. Funding for this renovation was granted by President John Kelly. When you come to the floor, take a minute to write a “thank you” card to let President Kelly know how much you appreciate his support.

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Thank you note written by a student on May 30, with name and contact information edited out.

Another coming change to the Wimberly Library is a planned Serenity Lounge, a non-denominational space that will be open to members of the FAU community with an Owl Card who are seeking a quiet place to pray or meditate. This new space will supplement the space that is currently available in the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs . The room is also the most recent manifestation of the FAU Libraries’ commitment to diversity and inclusion, articulated strongly in our Diversity & Inclusion Statement. We hope to have this room ready for use by the middle of September.

Led by Director Ethan Allen, the faculty and staff of the MacArthur Library in Jupiter are devoted to providing exceptional service to Jupiter faculty and students.

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Dean Carol Hixson Enjoying Comfortable Study Carrels at Jupiter

 

Director of the HBOI Library, Pamela Alderman, assisted one day a week by the MacArthur Library’s Assistant Director Leah Plocharczyk, applies innovative thinking to provide outstanding service to the researchers and students who have their home base at Harbor Branch.

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.

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Welcome to FAU!

Photos for this posting taken by Carol Hixson, Carol Lewis, Pat Koppisch.

 

 

Diversity is Strength

Following the horrific events in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 11-12, 2017, I wrote a message for the FAU cimmunity which was shared on social media and the Libraries’ web site on the morning of August 14:

The FAU Libraries value diversity, inclusion, learning, and mutual respect above all else, and as such we denounce the violence and rhetoric of hate that invaded Charlottesville and the University of Virginia campus this past weekend. We work to embody that diversity and respect in everything we do. The FAU Libraries support all in our community, and are here as a safe space, especially for those most targeted by hatred.

We mourn those who lost their lives in Charlottesville, and our thoughts are with their families and friends.

The terrorist attack over the weekend was aimed at trying to silence voices speaking out in support of and working to establish a diverse and inclusive society. The weekend’s events do not define us – not as a nation, a community, or a university.

 

Many others have also voiced their outrage and strongly condemned the actions and the words of the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who seek to intimidate through their violent actions and words.

The FAU Libraries stand for diversity and inclusion. We will strive to provide a welcoming and safe environment for all of FAU’s students, regardless of background.  We will support every point of view except those that seek to cause harm to others.

 

Denim Day 2017

This spring, on April 4, 2017, the FAU Libraries partnered with the University’s Victim Services department to host Denim Day. Denim Day, commemorated internationally on April 26, is “an event in which people are encouraged to wear jeans (denim) in order to raise awareness of rape and sexual assault,” according to Wikipedia.   The movement stems from an Italian Supreme Court ruling in 1998 overturning a rape conviction because the victim wore very tight jeans and they ruled that the victim had to have assisted in the removal of the jeans and, thus, could not have been raped. Denim Day has grown as an international movement to raise awareness against sexual assault.

At FAU, the Libraries collaborated with Victim Services to host an event in early April (before students got engrossed in end-of-semester papers and finals) in which people were given an opportunity to paint denim jeans with messages of solidarity for victims of sexual assault.

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The event was very well attended by people from all backgrounds and ages taking part

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in the painting or in discussions or in learning about resources and services provided by FAU.

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Following the day of painting, the decorated jeans were hung in the Wimberly Library to

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continue to raise awareness about the seriousness of the issue and to demonstrate the Libraries’ support in making FAU a safe haven for students and community members from all backgrounds and with all manner of life experiences.

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Photographs courtesy of Patricia Koppisch, Information and Engagement Department, FAU Libraries.