Welcome to the 2019-2020 Academic Year

Welcome to the 2019-2020 academic year at Florida Atlantic University Libraries! Bienvenidos! Bienvenus!

People often hear me say that I wish we could take the word “library” out of our name. My reasoning is that in the popular understanding of the word engrained in the minds of many people, a library is synonymous with a boring, stuffy, rules-bound place where people are forced to come only when they need an old, dusty book and where they are not permitted to talk, eat, smile, or engage in any normal human interaction. In that worldview, libraries are irrelevant and have already been or are about to be replaced by everything digital that is freely available on the Internet. We challenge that view of libraries every day in our three facilities in Boca Raton, Jupiter, and Harbor Branch, as well as with our partner facilities in Davie and Fort Lauderdale. The more than a million visits to our three facilities and the 1.2 million virtual visitors to our website in 2018-2019 are a testament to our continued relevance to the students, faculty, and community of Florida Atlantic University.

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We are a meeting place for people from all backgrounds and experiences, a crossroads, a bridge between disciplines, a hub of intellectual activity, a bustling hive of activity and conversation, a safe physical and virtual space for exploring the world and creating something brand new. We embrace the newest technologies, along with the tried-and-true, centuries-old technology of the printed book and hand-written manuscripts. We provide quiet nooks for individual students and researchers to dig deep into the

 

4th_after3scholarly record and craft their own contributions to that record, along with busy collaborative spaces where students engage in active learning and testing new ideas.

We cater to undergraduates, graduate students, residential and commuter students, those who spend hours every day in our spaces and those who use our resources over the Internet without even realizing they are using the library. We cater to first-generation-in-college students, side-by-side with world-renowned scholars who teach and carry out ground-breaking research that shapes our world. We engage with our community in a myriad of ways, promoting lifelong learning and exploration and open dialogue with people of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences.

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The FAU Libraries have a vision of ever-evolving services and spaces to meet the needs of today’s students and faculty, in partnership with FAU’s Colleges, other University units, regional and national institutions, and the community. We do this with and on behalf of dedicated people who exude purpose and passion in their quest to create a new paradise for themselves and others.

You can track some of our efforts to reinvent ourselves as we describe how we are Reimagining the Wimberly Library. There are many changes that are not visible that include new programs, services, and approaches. You can check out some of what is coming up on our events calendar.

One of our goals in the coming academic year will be to emphasize our services for all students and faculty, regardless of background and experiences. We will be creating exhibits, hosting lectures, and sponsoring events that celebrate the diversity of our university and the community and that ensure that everyone knows they are welcome and valued.

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Come visit one of our facilities, connect with our dedicated faculty and staff, and see what we’re up to. If you have a concern or want to raise an issue that’s important to you, send me an email at hixson@fau.edu

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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!

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

 

 

Meeting with Students

As the Dean of Libraries, I don’t have many occasions to interact directly with students in the course of my job. Yet, serving FAU’s students is the primary motivation behind all my decisions.

Unlike a professor, or a circulation staff member, or a reference librarian, my job does not bring me into contact with students. I see the students every day as they come in the library or come in the Dean’s Suite to pick up a piece of chocolate but I don’t usually have a chance to talk with them.

So, several times a semester, I try to make an opportunity to interact with our students by hosting a Dean’s “Meet and Greet” in the Wimberly Library.  I provide coffee and munchkins from Dunkin Donuts and stand there for an hour and talk with whoever happens to come by. Sometimes I have a theme and sometimes I don’t. The first such occasion this semester took place on Thursday, August 31 in the first floor lobby.

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Photo by Patricia Koppisch

The theme this time was the ongoing transformation of the Wimberly Library.  I was standing in the newly redesigned first-floor lobby, right next to the new mobile device charging stations and adjacent to where the old reference desk used to be.

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I had conversations with transfer students (several from Broward College) who were loving the friendly and helpful environment they were finding at FAU. I talked with juniors and seniors from a wide variety of majors, many of whom told me that the library is the most comfortable and welcoming place they have found on the campus. Many students told me that they were commuters and the library was their home base when they were not in classes.

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Some students had seen notice of the “meet and greet” on social media and had stopped by expressly to talk with me or just shake my hand.

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I was surprised by the number of students who had not yet been up to the newly renovated fifth floor. Some students didn’t know that we had more than three floors because they had only used the side of the building that has only three floors.

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I talked with graduate students, some of whom had not yet visited the graduate student lounge or who didn’t know that we added a group study room to that area over the summer. IMG_1638

There was one common thread in all the discussions: the students are happy with the changes that are being made in the Wimberly Library. It was gratifying to hear such positive comments and we will continue to work hard to make the FAU Libraries the kind of place and provide the kinds of services and collections that they need.

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.

 

 

Wimberly Library 5th Floor Transformation: Phase One

On Wednesday, May 31, 2017, the Wimberly Library opened up part of the 5th floor to unrestricted use all the hours that the building is open. For many years, the 5th floor of the Wimberly Library has been underutilized. The space had consisted of a few staff offices; collections for the Recorded Sound Archives and University Archives (which had a number of duplicative materials, as well as many items not within our collection parameters); an open seating/presentation space used fewer than a dozen times a year with a stage and a piano; and the attached Weiner Spirit of America suite which includes the University Club Boardroom, a vault for rare materials, and some exhibition cases. Phase One of the 5th floor transformation focused on the open space outside the Weiner Suite.

When events were previously held in the open space, there was limited, cramped seating and staff always had to unlock the elevators to allow people to come to the event and then relock the elevators after the event was finished.

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Crowded seating during an event held in the fifth floor prior to the renovation

At all other times, the space was accessible only to those staff who had a special key or fob that would allow the elevators to go to the 5th floor. With the rest of the library being so heavily used, with students having to sit on the floor between book stacks at times,

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Students sitting on the floor between book stacks in the Wimberly Library

the need for transforming the fifth-floor space was self-evident. The students sit on the floor throughout the building both because there isn’t enough space

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Students creating their own group-study space on the floor in another part of Wimberly

and they are trying to get access to the limited number of power outlets in a facility that was built before everyone had a computer or other device that needed power to run.

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Students cluster around power outlets in other parts of Wimberly

In the budget cycle of spring 2016, I submitted a request to “redesign the 5th floor of the Wimberly Library to expand public space and secure collections and staff work spaces in order to open it to students and the public all hours that the Library is open. The 5th floor is the only space sufficiently large and open to provide a venue for events and presentations. With this redesign, the Library could host a wider array of student, faculty, and community presentations, as well as provide much-needed open study space when not in use for events and presentations.” The University recognized the need and provided a generous, one-time allocation of $250,000 for the project. A donation of $10,000 from the Lifelong Learning Society in 2016 allowed us to get a jumpstart on the renovation with repainting the main room in the public area of the fifth floor.

A subset of the Libraries’ Space Allocation Committee, led by Special Collections department head Vicky Thur, worked closely with me and with the University’s Design and Construction Services staff, under the leadership of Director Numa Rais, to design the space, review flooring and furnishings, and oversee the project details. Before work could start, collections had to be de-duped, consolidated, and reorganized. Staff work areas were also consolidated to align better with their functions, and unused furniture and equipment were removed. A glass wall was pushed back (shown in the image below) and the open floor space was increased from 2166.72 square feet to 4362.72 square feet.

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During the renovation, lines on the old carpeting  show where the glass walls used to be

The vision that guided phase one of the fifth floor transformation, was to:

  • Transform a restricted-access space used for staff, storage, & occasional events
  • Develop an open, multi-purpose space to be used by students and faculty
  • Build in flexibility so the space can be easily transformed for events
  • Reduce storage space & increase the available square footage
  • Add new seating emphasizing aesthetics, comfort, & function
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Comfortable booths with lightweight privacy screens

  • Brand it as FAU space with colors & logos
  • Accommodate individual & group study
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Examples of individual and group seating areas now available

 

  • Increase access to power & wi-fi

 

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Installation of new carpeting and under-the-floor tracks that provide expanded access to power

  • Maximize use of natural lighting

 

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New seating areas that take advantage of natural light

  • Ensure good presentation capabilities

The study furniture is designed to be stacked and quickly moved out of the way when lectures and presentations are planned. The back wall and podium (shown in the image below) are in place for talks and for projecting presentations.

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Tables fold up and stack to reconfigure the room quickly for presentations and the wall serves as the projection screen with a speaker’s podium off to the side

On opening day of the new space, students immediately began to take advantage of the new space and make themselves comfortable, as we hoped they would.

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Student making herself at home in the new space

By fall 2017, the Libraries will have a policy and request form in place for special events to be held in the space, but with the focus being on events that are open to FAU’s students and that do not disrupt the students’ need to have adequate study space, especially during key parts of the semester.

The next phase of the fifth floor transformation will focus on redesigning the Weiner Suite and University Club boardroom to provide better exhibit space, a multi-purpose videoconferencing meeting room, and a lab where students can receive hands-on opportunities to work with Special Collections materials. Work is already underway, with the walls of the lab being built and the former board room being redesigned.

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New hands-on instruction lab for Special Collections under construction

The Libraries – and FAU’s students – are grateful for the University’s support in providing the funding to make this radical transformation of the Wimberly Library fifth floor possible. The Libraries have collected dozens of thank-you cards written by students to President Kelly thanking him for his support, illustrated by one card shown below.

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Thank you note written by a student on May 31, with name and contact information edited out.

Other work is planned or underway elsewhere in the Wimberly Library, including upgrading the group-study rooms and building a new single-point-of-service desk (combining three different service desks into one) directly in front of the front doors on the first floor. The FAU Libraries are committed to transforming space and services to meet the needs of today’s students and faculty. Check back here for updates as we continue to implement our new vision.

Images in this posting were taken by Carol Hixson, Patricia Koppisch, Vicky Thur, and Carol West.