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.

 

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.

 

What is a Library? The Issue of Library Collections

I have recently been approached by some faculty who believe that we are removing important items from our print collections and that this is evidence of a lack of support for faculty, for research, and for scholarship. I respect their concern and expect to be engaging in many more conversations about the changing nature of libraries and library collections in the near future. As I try to respond to their concerns, it makes me ponder the question of what a library is. Today, I want to focus on library collections.

Traditional dictionaries like Merriam Webster define a library as “a place in which literary, musical, artistic, or reference materials (such as books, manuscripts, recordings, or films) are kept for use but not for sale.   The Oxford English dictionary defines a library in similar fashion as “A building or room containing collections of books, periodicals, and sometimes films and recorded music for use or borrowing by the public or members of an institution.” There are some for whom this is the only valid definition of a library.

There are others who think (and have said to me since I’ve been Dean of University Libraries at FAU) that: “Since everything is available digitally, why do we need a library anymore?” If you do a Google search on the question “do we still need libraries in the digital age?” you will turn up link after link to articles from the New York Times, the Washington Post, PBS, the Guardian, the CBC, and many more that ponder this question, all with their own twist on the issue.

It is interesting to be standing in the middle of these two opposing views and trying to find a middle ground.

Unlike some of my colleagues or the popular press, I don’t foresee a day when the traditional definition of a library will be completely eliminated. I don’t believe that all knowledge, scholarship, or creative output will be available digitally anytime soon – or ever. I’m not even sure I would consider that desirable.

However, as the world’s scholarly output continues to increase, libraries are able to own or even provide direct access to a smaller and smaller percentage of it. A 2014 posting on the Nature Newsblog noted that “Bibliometric analysts Lutz Bornmann, at the Max Planck Society in Munich, Germany and Ruediger Mutz, at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, think they have a better answer. It is impossible to know for sure, but the real rate is closer to 8-9% each year, they argue. That equates to a doubling of global scientific output roughly every nine years.”

Libraries cannot hope to own or provide immediate electronic access to all the resources that their patrons want and need. Not only do we not have the funding to keep up with the world’s production of scholarly output, we also don’t have the space. Our collections budget are usually stagnant and not keeping up with the pace of inflation (as detailed in a April 2017 article from Library Journal on the Periodicals Price Survey) and there are new demands for the use of our space all the time. In the face of this new reality, libraries around the world are reviewing what it means to be a library.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is an elite group of  123 research libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Membership in this elite group is hard to come by and, in earlier years, members could lose their standing and slip in the rankings if their total volume count decreased and if their budgets for collections were deemed to be inadequate. However, this traditional definition of a research library is being challenged, even within the ARL. In 2012, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) commissioned an issue brief on 21st Century Collections.   ARL has been moving away from its decades-old means of determining eligibility to join ARL that was based almost entirely on volume count and it is looking for new metrics that matched today’s research environment. A couple of phrases from that report have stayed with me: “Twentieth-century research library collections were defined by local holdings, hailed as distinctive and vast. Twenty-first-century research library collections demand multiple strategies for ensuring broad access” and “As libraries transition from institution-centric collections to a user-centric networked world, distributed collections should grow correspondingly. Traditional practices cannot easily scale to support this new environment. Emphasizing the shift from paper to e-texts understates the change. Rather than focusing on acquiring the products of scholarship, the library is now an engaged agent supporting and embedded within the processes of scholarship.”

To my mind, the world is everyone’s research library and we serve our faculty far better by assisting them in discovering and gaining timely access to the world’s scholarship rather than simply by holding onto specific journals or monographs. The ARL states on its Collections site that “Research collections are at the heart of the research library, but in the digital age the nature of information resources and library collections are undergoing profound transformations. New kinds of content, new formats and reformatting, new publishing models and access arrangements are rapidly reshaping research collections. As digital information resources increasingly predominate collecting, bringing new kinds of content within the research library’s sphere of responsibility, value propositions of traditional collections are altering apace.”

As far as our collections of published content are concerned, the FAU Libraries cannot be an archive or a museum. As reference and instruction librarian Joe Hardenbrook from Carroll University wrote in 2014,  “For most academic libraries, our mission is not to collect the whole of human knowledge. We have limited space, limited resources. We are not a warehouse for books–a warehouse is a storage facility. Books are for using–not for sitting on a shelf for years on end.”

In the realm of scholarly or creative output, at the FAU Libraries, we strive to:

  • be a portal to the world’s scholarship, through providing immediate access to select, high-quality content in print and through electronic subscriptions, as far as our funding and space permits.
  • enable our students and faculty to gain access to much of the rest of the world’s scholarship and creative output through rapid and efficient interlibrary loan.
  • provide better awareness of, access to, and use of our distinctive special collections.
  • create local digital collections of unique materials that can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
  • help our faculty and students create their own content and publish it in some form.

In this imperfect and rapidly changing world, the FAU Libraries will continue to select new materials; we will continue to deselect some materials to make room for new content or for other uses of the space (as explained in the LibGuide on our Weeding Project ); we will continue to help our users find the information they need, create their own scholarship, collaborate in their study and research endeavors, work quietly on their own, explore the world of rare and unique materials, and be as successful as we can possibly help them to be.

 

 

 

New Assistant Dean for Research and Collections

Following a national search, the FAU Libraries are pleased to announce that Mr. Jeff Sundquist will be joining FAU as the Assistant Dean for Research and Collections effective July 10, 2017.  Mr. Sundquist is a Ph.D. candidate in Scandinavian Languages and Literature (ABD) at UCLA. He completed his Master of Library and Information Science (with distinction) from UCLA in 2003 and his Master of Arts, Scandinavian Languages & Literature, also from UCLA in 2003.  Since June 2014 he has been Collection Management Librarian at Eastern Washington University, where he has provided leadership and coordination for the creation, assessment, and analysis of the Libraries’ collection policies and activities. From April 2011 to May 2014 he served as Associate Librarian / Coordinator of Acquisitions & Cataloging at Chapman University where he provided leadership and oversight of the work functions in Cataloging and Acquisitions. From August 2007 through December 2010, he was an Associate Instructor, at the University of California, Berkeley where he taught semester-long, four-unit courses of Scandinavian R5A & R5B in the College Writing Program, offered through the Scandinavian Department.  From August 2006 through October 2007 he served as Librarian, Scandinavian Department, at the University of California, Berkeley. Between January 2005 and August 2006, Mr. Sundquist was UC/JSTOR Project Manager/Associate Librarian, in the University of California, California Digital Library (75%) and the UCLA Libraries (25%) He was a Fulbright Research Librarian from July 2003 to May 2004 at Statsbiblioteket (The State and University Library), Århus, Denmark. Mr. Sundquist is professionally active and has authored peer-reviewed articles, a book chapter, and co-authored the monograph entitled “The craft of library instruction: Using acting techniques to create your teaching presence,” published by the Association of College and Research Libraries in 2016. 

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As the first Assistant Dean for Research and Collections for the FAU University Libraries, Mr. Sundquist will be working to develop, strengthen, and promote collections and services that support faculty and student research. As Assistant Dean, he will provide strategic vision, policy and program development, and leadership as the Libraries redefine their collections and support for research in the context of emerging trends in scholarly communication, changing formats and access models, shared collections, and new definitions of research collections. He will also provide leadership for innovative program and content development in support of the University’s mission through the Libraries’ units that comprise Special Collections, Interlibrary Loan, Government Documents, and Collection Management.

 

A welcome reception will be held for Mr. Sundquist in the fall to introduce him to the FAU community. During the summer, he will be reaching out to many departments and units across the University to familiarize himself with the University’s programs and services and to look for opportunities to strengthen partnerships and build on existing library services.

 

Black History Month

February is designated as Black History Month in the United States. Started in 1926 as Negro History Week by the noted scholar Carter G. Woodson, the entire  month of February was designated as Black History Month in 1976. February was chosen because it included the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

The FAU Libraries has been commemorating the month with a series of events and exhibits, including the multi-media “Pursuit of Equality” exhibit celebrating Boca Raton’s historic Pearl City community, as well as the women who were the unsung heroes in the exploration of space, and many more achievements.  This month’s Meet-the-Dean event in the Wimberly Library from 10:30-11:30 on February 28th encouraged students to sign a poster congratulating Carla Hayden as the first woman and the first African-American to be appointed as the Librarian of Congress.

Carol Hixson explaining about Carla Hayden poster in background

Carol Hixson explaining about Carla Hayden poster in background

Celebrating Black History month is just one example of the FAU Libraries commitment to the diversity of our community, our country, and the world in which we live. Come to the libraries often to check out our events, our exhibits, and our exploration and celebration of the world around us.

Students signing banner congratulating Carla Hayden

Students signing banner congratulating Carla Hayden

 

Copyright

Academic libraries exist to enable the students and faculty of their institutions to be successful in their academic careers and also to provide them with the skills they will need to be informed global citizens. We do this by providing access to the world’s scholarly output, by helping them develop and pursue individual research, by keeping them apprised of changes in the scholarly communication landscape, by helping them make connections with other people and ways of thinking, and by connecting them to technology and other tools to be effective critical thinkers and lifelong learners.

One of the primary challenges facing faculty and students today is understanding their rights and responsibilities when it comes to creating, sharing, citing, and repurposing intellectual content. Copyright. When is an image or video on the Web able to be inserted into a presentation or paper without first getting permission? What does fair use allow me to use in my teaching? What questions should I ask before I sign over my copyright in order to have my research published? How do I properly cite and quote someone else’s work in my own work? When am I allowed to build on someone else’s creative work in order to create a brand-new play, work of art, or musical composition? These questions have been around for a long time but have become more complex because of the prevalence of so much content that is freely available for viewing, reading, and listening on the Internet.

The FAU Libraries will be working to offer more workshops, generate more discussion, offer access to webinars, and bring in respected speakers to help address these and other questions facing today’s faculty and students.

On February 24, the FAU Libraries and the Center for eLearning are hosting world-renowned copyright expert Dr. Kenneth Crews to discuss copyright and its impact on faculty and students. Dr. Crews is an attorney, author, professor, and international copyright consultant. For over 25 years, his research, policymaking, and teaching have centered on copyright issues related to education and research. He established and directed the nation’s first university-based copyright office at Indiana University and was later recruited to establish a similar office at Columbia University. He currently serves on the faculty of Columbia Law School and has a law practice and consultancy with the firm of Gipson Hoffman & Pancione. He is the author of numerous publications including Copyright, Fair Use, and the Challenge for Universities (1993), a reevaluation of  the understandings of copyright and fair use at universities, and the well-received, Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators (3rd ed, 2012). He is the recipient of the Patterson Copyright Award from the American Library Association and the 2014 Mark T. Banner Award from the American Bar Association.

To learn more about the program and express interest in attending, faculty and students should visit http://libguides.fau.edu/scholarlycommunication/CopyrightWorkshop

 

 

 

Deepening Resolve

In my first full-time library job years ago at Cornell University working to acquire materials for their Southeast Asian collection, I learned in practical terms about the commitment of libraries and librarians to providing access to resources and services to support individual inquiry and creative output. I learned that libraries acquire and make available materials regardless of the point of view represented, that they help anyone who walks in the door or reaches out for help over the phone, email, or online, that they strive to be a safe place for everyone to explore the world. And librarians routinely stand up in defense of people and groups that are under attack. While we respect diverse points of view, those points of view must be expressed in ways that don’t threaten or harm other people.

Today the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), an independent, nonprofit organization that works with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher education to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments, and the Digital Library Federation (DLF), a “community of practitioners who advance research, learning, social justice, and the public good through the creative design and wise application of digital library technologies” issued a statement on their deepening resolve to support diversity and oppose divisiveness. The full statement lays out the principles and explains what it means practically when they say that they “stand in resolute support of our dedicated and diverse community of information professionals and organizational sponsors, promoting the fullest and most inclusive vision they may hold of the publics they serve: individuals and institutions that are both stalwart and vulnerable, people living now and generations yet to come. We also stand with our community in determined opposition to any political policies, actions, and divisive ideologies—like those we have observed during the current transition of power in Washington, DC—that contravene our shared, core values of enlightened liberalism and scientific understanding, and threaten our mission to create just, equitable, and sustained global cultures of accessible information.”

Other library organizations have also been more vocal recently in support of diversity and inclusion. The Association of Research Libraries, a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries at comprehensive, research institutions in the US and Canada,  and the  Association of American University Presses recently issued a joint statement that emphasized that they “have longstanding histories of and commitments to diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. As social institutions, research libraries, archives, and university presses strive to be welcoming havens for all members of our communities and work hard to be inclusive in our hiring, collections, books and publications, services, and environments.”  Referring to the Presidential travel ban recently promulgated, they noted that “while temporary, the ban will have a long-term chilling effect on free academic inquiry. This order sends a clear message to researchers, scholars, authors, and students that the United States is not an open and welcoming place in which to live and study, conduct research, write, and hold or attend conferences and symposia. The ban will disrupt and undermine international academic collaboration in the sciences, the humanities, technology, and global health.”

Like these other library organizations, the FAU Libraries will continue to support all FAU students and faculty, regardless of their backgrounds and point of view, and will always strive to provide a safe environment for our students and faculty to study, carry out research, engage with each other, and create new works of artistic endeavor and scholarship. We don’t play favorites.