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Deans Update: Simulations and Reality

The possibility of violent acts occurring in public places haunts anyone who manages a facility where people gather. The recent tragedy in Santa Monica emphasized that libraries, iconic places for peaceful reflection and nurturing the life of the mind, are not exempt from worry about security.

Months ago, Drexel Public Safety asked if their annual training exercise for officers could be staged in W. W. Hagerty Library. We agreed, without a realization of the timeliness of the simulation. Impressive arrangements were orchestrated to bring first responders from across the Philadelphia area to stage various possible shooting simulations for these professionals to experience. As one of the observers for part of the exercise, I was both saddened by the necessity and reassured by the proactive efforts to undertake such precautions. Let us hope that we never need to utilize the skills learned in the simulation in a real situation.

The security simulation followed a much more festive period that the end of the academic year brings. Drexel e-Learning congratulated graduates of Drexel Online who came to W. W. Hagerty Library during commencement activities to take photos, enjoy refreshments and engage with one another. For many, this was part of their first experience on campus. The University Archives staff prepared an exhibit on the history of Drexel, using photographs and documents, to illustrate the evolving University. The exhibit remains in the lobby through August.

The use of simulation was also explored this past month to assess student competencies in navigating and utilizing information. The Libraries’ staff is working with others who support student efforts to master the Drexel Student Learning Priorities beyond the classroom. These include information literacy, along with communication, analytical thinking, and ethical use of information. A tool developed by Educational Testing Services [iSkills] was administered to a number of graduating seniors who responded to electronic exercises and scenarios that tested their skills in finding, evaluating, and presenting information. More on this project will be reported in coming months as we next look to assess skills of incoming students.

These efforts mark the end of the academic year and the start of summer. Happy July 4th and good summer!

Danuta A. Nitecki, Ph.D.
Dean of Libraries

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