Monday, February 03, 2014

Letter to the Editor

In the latest edition of The Communicator, the library dean replies to Jim Sells article, "Late Shift: Library Blues." Grab the latest issue or read below to see what Susan Jennings had to say:

In an article entitled "Late Shift: Library Blues" published in the Chattanooga State Communicator in November 2013 (p12), Jim Sells expresses his (and others) frustration with the library renovation... more specifically, what he terms the "closing" of the library during the first half of Fall Semester.  While I disagree with Mr. Sells on many of his points and stand behind the decisions that we made to ensure essential services continued during the renovation delay, albeit in an abbreviated manner, there is one point he made of which I am in 100% agreement ... that the library is VITAL to education and to this campus and that the lack of full access to the library was painfully felt during the renovation process.  
His article brought to mind how society values the library.  Lately, the worth of libraries has been questioned both in communities as well as institutes of higher education.  Misconceptions continue to be perpetuated such as "everything is on the web," “all that libraries have are books” and “libraries are just old, out-of-sync mausoleums containing dusty, never used materials.” Fortunately, in communities and in academia, these perceptions are being smashed… especially when access to the library is abbreviated or denied. 

Today, access to the library and its resources is both virtual and physical.  The library is not only a place where resources “live” but the library is also a place where people study, read, write, create, and meet.  Users are discovering that libraries are no longer just a storehouse for books and a static organization but a dynamic and changing collaborative environment.  Information seeking behaviors have changed drastically, even in my own lifetime.  The way we access information is varied now.  Where information was found mainly in print just a couple of decades ago, the number of information sources has exploded.  With the rise of technology and the web, no longer can you depend upon the truthfulness of information you find. Now, the question is not “if” I can find information about a topic but rather, targeting the best, most accurate, and authoritative information.  Our newly renovated library was designed with the changing nature of resources and information gathering behavior in mind.  It has the flexibility to grow and change as the needs of our users change.

It is an exciting time to work in libraries and especially in our new, beautiful space.  When our library opened its doors on October 16th, our library was reborn.  We were no longer the Augusta R Kolwyck Library but we were transformed into a reflection of the new nature of libraries – the library as a place to learn, explore, create and collaborate.  Our new name “The Augusta R. Kolwyck Library and Information Commons” (KLIC for short – “Information at just one KLIC”).  While not completely finished, we knew it was vital to get our students into this space as soon as it was safe to do so.  Mr. Sells was right… 24/7 access is not the same as physical access.  The new KLIC still has books and quiet nooks but, more importantly, it has become a library of “place.”  

As a newly, truly user centered facility we will now provide:

  • 94 additional seats (up from almost 300 to almost 400 seats).

  •  Plenty of places for both quiet study and reflection as well as collaborative spaces for group work.

  • A combination of places to work and places to relax. 

  • An Upgraded and more dependable technology such as upgraded wireless infrastructure, more electrical plugs and 117 brand new All-in-One computers. 

  • A Refreshed and revitalized print collection with newer and more up-to-date books on current topics of research. 

  •  Extended hours opening 79 hours per week.

  • Continued excellent research and customer service support from our dedicated information professionals (a.k.a. librarians) and support staff.

  • Expanded curriculum based, information literacy classes taught by our librarians and created by partnering with classroom instructors

 And coming soon:

  • Four multimedia collaborative study rooms (with computer and 42" screen) and one multimedia meeting room to hold meetings and work on group projects.

  •  A mobile classroom (in addition to our traditional library classroom) designed with flexibility and mobile technology in mind to meet the needs of library instruction. 

  •  An 8 station MAC Creative Lab with cutting edge video/multimedia editing programs.

 Thankfully, library renovations happen but once every twenty to thirty years.  In this time of thanksgiving, we are thankful for our fantastic, cutting edge facility and that we are open and able to offer full service. It is an exciting time for all of us in our beautifully, renovated space (another point of which I agree with Mr. Sells).  We are so happy to be here and to be open once again to provide full services.  Welcome Home!

Susan L. Jennings
Dean of Library Services

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