Over the past several weeks the Libraries leadership, as with many other campus departments, has had to make difficult decisions about financial allocations that affect the services we offer, our relation to people expecting library support and our employees that hope for security in their workplace.
No one is born with the ability to find, retrieve, analyze and use information. This set of “information literacy” skills distinguishes an educated person, as the ability to read did 100 years ago. Information literacy is associated with critical thinking, based on the assumption that information is an essential ingredient to be thoughtful, inquisitive and responsibly critical.
The steps to changing an organization’s future are seemingly easy – draft a vision, set objectives, meet goals and tell the world. But, a transformation calls for something more - a dramatic change or metamorphosis. Operationally, shifting an organizational culture is not so easy as one has to change perceptions and behaviors of both those responding to the change and to those changing.
As we finally move into spring, how many among us are anxious to shed our winter jackets in favor of warmer weather? Spring is an exciting time of sunshine and new growth, but with that comes housekeeping – weeding, planting and spring-cleaning. For the Libraries, this spring marks a time to review our collections as we plan to make room for more up to date references and feature an resources that will stimulate discovery and reading enjoyment.
Connections – the concept of bringing together two or more of something – is a theme that travels through much of the work done at Drexel University. In the Libraries, it includes bringing together ideas and people. You surely have experienced library programs in your lifetime that facilitate authors reaching readers, deliver distantly held books, guided students to discover images or articles, or identified a kindred intellectual spirit by exploring similar topics.
Once again, the Libraries became a hot spot of activity this past month as students returned from the holiday break. They spent focused hours among library carrels, tables, and group rooms to read, reflect and engage in discovering new ideas, writing papers and completing projects. When the University cancelled normal business for nearly two days due to the storm on January 21st, the Libraries kept the W. W. Hagerty Library open, thanks to a few of its hearty staff and security officers.
We prepare this issue of In Circulation after coming in from the bitter cold, grateful to have kept those old long johns, hats and coats that might be unfashionable but keep us really warm. The notion of keeping things in case of a future need – or perhaps for nostalgia – causes many of us to hold onto stuff we may no longer use. If not managed well, it is easy to let our “just in case” stuff overtake our closets, basements, desks, as well as our inboxes and hard drives.
Libraries have a mission to preserve history and they extend that to the organization itself in preparing the iconic annual report. However, unlike the many standardized rules applied to preserving, cataloging and ensuring access to the artifacts of cultural, scholarly, and organizational activities, there is no common playbook for creating a library annual report. Some are lavish books themselves, commemorating collections with gorgeous images and descriptions of unique acquisitions while others are used to thank people who reaffirm the library’s value with fiscal or advocacy support.
Not long ago, a colleague asserted that exhibit cases are archaic and have no place in the modern. That challenged me to think about if it was true or if, like most things library-related, the purpose remains but means of presentation change.