Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Another New Academic Year Begins

It was great to see all our new students arriving this past weekend, and it was especially energizing today to see the combination of these new students settling in and our continuing students joining them and all getting ready for first day of class on Wednesday.

Now I just worry whether we really have the Library completely ready for the new academic year. We hope so. We have spent time making some changes that we hope will make the Proctor Library a more customer friendly space as the semester begins, and one of our primary goals for the coming year is to continue improving our customer service in order to improve overall student satisfaction and the quality of the educational experience.

Returning students will notice a couple of significant physical changes we have made inside the Library. Many students who have already been here several years have often been faced with trying to locate a book in one of two very similar locations—the Dewey Collection or the LC Circulating Collection. This was necessary as we worked through a project lasting close to nine years whereby we converted nearly 100,000 book volumes from the Dewey Decimal Classification system to the Library of Congress Classification system. Well, we finally completed that long project this summer, and we have trashed the old signs for the two locations.

And we have installed new signs for the single location which is now known as the “2nd Floor General Collection.” The signs read simply “General Collection.

To support the Education program at the College we also made some adjustments this summer to two of the special collections supporting this program. First we acquired copies of those textbooks in math, science and social studies formally adopted by the St. Johns County Public Schools to support the K-5 grades. Naturally these very useful textbooks overcrowded the existing shelving holding the special “Education-Curriculum Collection” on the second floor, so this entire collection was then relocated to available shelving nearby on the side wall. This in turn allowed us to spread out the already crowded books in the “Fran Farrell Children’s Literature Collection” and make that collection more user friendly.

The actual locations of these collections can be seen on our new Second Floor Floorplan http://www.flagler.edu/library/Library_2nd_floor.jpg .

Finally, one of the changes that we believe will appreciated most by both new and returning students was really accomplished by our great friends and colleagues, the Technology Services Department—probably more widely known as the IT or Information Technology Department. Students visiting the Proctor Library this week will find some 200 brand new computers installed early this summer—about 70 new computers on the first floor and about 130 on the third floor. The Library is especially pleased because the number on the first floor were increased by 9 units over last year's number. This increase should help reduce the “cruising” we often observed last year, as students searched for an open computer. Thanks Technology Services for such great and caring support.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer Orientation for New Students -- We are so thrilled to have them

This year the College has invited new students for a trial of one-day summer orientation sessions, and these sessions appear to be working great. We in the Library are particularly pleased to be given the opportunity to see and meet these new students on a quiet day during the summer, instead of only during the hustle, bustle and stress of the first week of the semester.

Each of the three Summer Orientation dates scheduled this summer had a limit of 100 students, and upon arrival these students were then formed into smaller 10 person groups for the actual orientation activities during the day. The Library was very fortunate on the first date (June 19) to have one of our librarians serve as a group facilitator who interacted and guided the group all day during the students' orientation activities. It was a great opportunity to develop an early relationship with the group of students, and to bring the Library closer to them. On the second date (June 26) we again were fortunate to have another one of our librarians serve as a group facilitator, and we are hoping to add maybe a third, and maybe even a fourth librarian, as facilitator on the third date (July 10).

Of course, the rest of us working in the Library the days of the orientations had the opportunity briefly to meet the 10 groups of students as they came on a campus walking tour and we provided them a brief introduction to the Library. The students all were very pleasant and appeared quite energetic despite some very hot weather outside. We can't wait to meet up with them again when the fall semester begins. We are really looking forward to working with and helping them all.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

End of Semester - Final Exams/Projects

The above photo of the “SHHH!!!” ceramic sculpture appearing in the window of our “quiet room” was very fitting as the semester came to an end, although a hint like this was not always needed. Students tended to be much quieter as they concentrated on their study and completion of final papers and projects. Actually it is interesting to note that the “SHHH!!!” sculpture is not normally displayed in the Library, but it was actually installed there only temporarily by one of our fine art majors as one of his final projects in his ceramic sculpture class. But how fitting?!

This final exam/final project period appears to have been the most successful one we have had to date, both for the students and for the Library. We had originally decided to increase our regular extended 2:00 a.m. hours from one week to two weeks, but after receiving pleas from a couple student groups seeking even longer hours, we decided to investigate even lengthening some of our hours beyond 2:00 a.m. into several full 24-hour days as a trial. After consulting with some of our colleagues at Rollins College, Elon University and Connecticut College, who are already providing 24-hour operation, we looked at our own staff resources and decided to remain open for four distinct 24-hour (overnight) periods during the final two weeks of the semester. These included two 24-hours periods in the first week when papers and projects were being completed and the other two 24-hour periods in the final week when exams were actually being administered.

The trial was extremely well received by the students. An average of some 275 students were present in the Library at some time during each of the four extended periods, and comments provided by students directly to the Library staff were very positive. Many expressions of gratitude were received. In addition a more formal online survey was sent out to all students at the end, and even though it was the last day of the semester, 315 students took the time to respond. Analysis of the survey showed that 81.9% of the respondents took advantage of the Library’s total offering of extended hours, and written comments clearly indicate the appreciation of the students and their interest in having the 24-hour periods continue during the final weeks of future semesters. Many students expressed that they did much better in their exams and final projects because they had the additional library hours available to them.

At the same time we in the Library were very pleased to be able to provide this level of service and support that was so well received by the students, and it is our intention to continue this in the future, and maybe even increase it slightly.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Proctor Library’s “Extended Hours for Finals” coincides with the celebration of National Library Week

This week the Proctor Library begins a period of two weeks of extended operating hours in order to provide students with more time and more access to library resources in preparation for final exams and for the completion of final projects. It is only fitting that this same week is also “National Library Week” a period of time for the celebration of the many contributions of libraries, librarians, and library workers in communities, schools and academic campuses nationwide. The week’s theme this year is “Worlds Connect @ Your Library.”

As in all the many different types of libraries, the Proctor Library’s mission is to serve a variety of needs of our library users. During the next two weeks, students will use the Library for both individual and group study in preparation for exams, for completion of individual and group projects, for rehearsals of oral presentations, for last minute research for papers using resources inside the Library, for accessing licensed databases remotely, and for seeking assistance from the reference librarians to help in the completion of remaining portions of their work.

Also of note this week is that Tuesday April 14, has been designated “National Library Workers Day” as a day to remember the contributions of ALL those library workers, who make all the library services possible.

In the Proctor Library these workers include not only the librarians, but also the staff library assistants, the student library assistants, the housekeepers, and the security officers. Each and every one help ensure the service and learning environment that students and other members of the Flagler College community expect and enjoy from the Proctor Library. I hope all will recognize the contribution of all of these workers on National Library Workers Day and also during the next two weeks when the library workers are dedicating extra efforts and extra hours to help students during final projects and exams.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Importance of St. Augustine residents and MLK Day

The month of January has slipped by much too quickly. Classes no sooner began when we shifted our concentration to Martin Luther King Day on Monday, January 19, followed by the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama on Tuesday, January 20.

Martin Luther King Day was given special recognition by Flagler College this year. Beginning this year the College will observe Martin Luther King Day every year, not only to honor the personal work of Dr. King but equally important to honor the work of St. Augustine’s residents as part of the Civil Rights Movement, particularly during the 1960s. This new observance is the result of a resolution passed the Faculty Senate and approved by the President of Flagler College in fall 2008.

I believe it to be very important for the Flagler College community to be aware of the work of those St. Augustine residents who are being honored by the College’s observance of Martin Luther King Day. The work of the residents, particularly during the years 1963 and 1964, contributed significantly to the Civil Right Movement and ultimately to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was passed and signed by President Lyndon Johnson in the summer of 1964.

The Proctor Library's collections contain several resources that provide excellent looks at that period of time in St. Augustine history, as well as years both before and beyond.

One of the more interesting items is the documentary film Dare Not Walk Alone. This film was written, directed and produced by Flagler College alumnus Jeremy Dean, and co-produced by Dr. James Gilmore, a former faculty member in the College’s Communication Department. The Library currently has four DVD copies of this documentary. Two copies are available for normal circulation from our Audio-Visual Collection (Call Number is F319.S2 D37 2008) and two copies are available in our Permanent Reserve Collection for use inside the Library only. Any member of the Library staff can help retrieve one of these copies.

More detailed information about happenings during the historic period can be found within the following two books:

If it takes all summer : Martin Luther King, the KKK, and states’ rights in St. Augustine, 1964, by Dan Warren. Call number is F319.S2 W365 2008

Racial change and community crisis : St. Augustine, Florida, 1877-1980, by David Colburn. Call number is F319.S2 C65 1991.

All are recommended, and I hope members of the Flagler College community will take some time to review at least one of the resources.

Monday, December 8, 2008

End of the Semester Excitement

The fall semester ends this week and almost everyone with whom I speak feels this semester has just flown by. We're not exactly sure what may have caused this, but the feeling is widespread. Throughout the semester our efforts are always targeted on helping the students use library tools for research and other projects. At this point, however, only a few papers and projects remain, and it is time to make sure the students are welcomed and comfortable coming to the Library to study individually and in groups, in order to be ready for their final exams...and even to finish their last minute papers. As I check our daily gate counts and as I take my walks on the floors, I am very pleased with what I am observing. We certainly have not scared too many students away, because our gate count has jumped from a average of about 2,600 entrances a day to well over 3,000 entrances on several days the last few weeks.

Even a couple end-of-the-year mishaps that one could never predict have been dealt with. We were able to deal with a two hour website outage by shifting our access to a different server. And even an elevator breakdown on two separate days did not deter one of our education classes from meeting on both days. They simply set up camp on one end of the first floor, and this created no apparent problem.

It was also exciting for all of us when we realized that right in the midst of exam preparations our trusty gate counter was about to turn over another million. One of our frequent library users, who will graduate this spring, became the six millionth person to enter the Library since it first opened in fall 1996.


At the same time study groups have been gathering throughout the Library, and it always fun for me to see how the groups settle into the various areas. Some settled into the seating groups and laptop computers appeared everywhere.

My favorite thus far has been a large group I recognized using our group study rooms for two separate nights. The rooms typically top out at about 14 students, but I'm pretty certain the group exceeded 16 and they all seemed to be dilligently working at the three tables that they had separated in the room. Again, a lot of laptops were seen there.

Now students working individually were accommodated too. Most used our standard study carrels, but some preferred the floor. For one student we even got a chance to use a chair we have been sampling. It separates into a close-to-the-floor seat and the base becomes a table that can hold a laptop.

It has been fun to observe, and I may even some additional observations in the remaining days before finals end and the semester comes to an end.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Give them only one choice…and they may take the second.

Give them only one choice…and they may take the second or maybe even the third.

Yes, I know I probably should be writing about something more academic, but I just can’t help sharing some of my observations from around the Library. I took note of two things this week that just seemed to fit together for me.

Ever since the walkway along on Sevilla Street in front of the Library was reconfigured and the new concrete poured, many students and other pedestrians making the turn from Valencia Street toward the Library have decided to take a shortcut across the grass instead of walking the extra couple yards to follow the paved walk. Now, after a year has passed and the dirt path was obviously becoming a part of the landscape, it became clear that it was time for the College to pour a new permanent concrete path there. It was completed last week, and it looks and works great. It gives the students two nice alternatives.

I also heard a very interesting theory proposed by the wife of one of our librarians. It is her theory that only grass turf--never concrete walkways--should be installed on any newly landscaped area. Then, when dirt paths start to appear in areas where people are actually walking, the concrete walkways can be installed in their proper location. I love the theory!

Also during the past week, when making my normal morning inspection walks through the Library, I became more aware of another clear example of our library users not always taking the first choice offered to them. Instead of taking the study chair immediately available to them, they recognize over time that they may actually have alternatives and they will often choose the chair most comfortable for them—especially if they are going to be spending an extended period in the Library.

There are presently about eight different chair styles on the second floor, and these are based in specific locations. The so-called “comfy”overstuffed chairs and some high back leather chair make up the lounge areas by the big windows. The study carrels and work tables have straight wooden chairs (both armless and with arms). Two of the group study rooms have task chairs (both armless and with arms), and the other two rooms have wide conference style chairs. There are even two tall stools used with the technology stations in the group study rooms.
One would expect students to use the chairs in the locations in which they are originally placed, and normally that is the case, but almost every day the different style of chairs are moved to new locations and obviously used by students (or others) who prefer a particular chair.

Most moves are obvious. The softer chair usually with arms, are the ones moved the most. Now I would have never expected that any of the straight back, hard wood chairs would be moved into spaces to replace softer chairs, but it happens quite often. And even our tall stools occasionally move. I am still trying to figure out who prefers the higher rather than the normal height chair and why.
Of course, our approach is that whatever makes a student comfortable using the Library is OK with us. In fact I was considering setting up all our chairs in front of the elevator and just letting each student take along his/her favorite chair.

Just kidding!! But it would be interesting to see.