Dean’s Update: Libraries as the Connectors

Dean’s Update: Libraries as the Connectors
Jenny James Lee
May 6, 2015

[The Dean's Update is a column introducing each issue of the Libraries' monthly e-newsletter In Circulation.]

We have been testing different brand statements in the last several months, searching for one that can trigger a quick recognition of the Libraries. The other day through a discussion with our faculty advisory group a description arose that the library is a connector. Four of our featured stories in this issue of In Circulation illustrate this notion.

Core to libraries is their connection of people to information. This spring, the Libraries completed project work with library staff at the Academy of Natural Sciences and our shared information-management-system vendor, Innovative Interfaces, Inc. Together, we transferred catalog records to identify books and journals held at the Academy into the online catalog the Libraries manages. As a result, researchers, students and faculty can more conveniently discover sources of information available at the Academy along with those at Drexel’s library locations, or they can focus their search to find only needed items held at the Academy. Connections of people to ideas and evidence happen more easily—and, the connections span the world.

Technologies come to mind as tools these days to connect people to information—after all, iPads, phones, laptops, even new glasses help people find and read information. After working with the local librarian from the Free Library of Philadelphia, Libraries staff installed a self-service kiosk at the Dornsife Center that allows Philadelphia residents with a Free Library card as well as Drexel students and employees to borrow one of twelve iPads. The public librarian’s knowledge of computer tools useful to his community was invaluable in determining which apps were loaded to the iPads. The result is that more people can connect to information in our local neighborhood.

Leadership to coordinate people around a common passion is another ingredient for successful connections. Just this month, we learned that our librarian for undergraduate learning has been accepted into a competitive national program in which she will lead a campus team to explore assessment techniques for understanding support of information literacy programs. The Assessment in Action program helps build human capacity for libraries to connect learners to information by improving ways to guide students to master their information literacy skills.

And finally, a graduate student from China came to my office a few weeks ago to ask if she could mount an exhibit of her photography in the Libraries. It is a beautiful collection of images of her homeland, along with poems and their translations, which express her Memories of Spring. It was a honor and pleasure to help this member of the Drexel community share what she described as her personal thanks to those who welcomed her to Drexel and the United States last fall when she came here to study. Her desire to place this within the Libraries also expressed a vision of a library as the hub of a community—the place that connects people. She did so through images, an artistic expression of ideas.

I invite you to continue to connect with the Libraries through reading our newsletter and sending us your ideas and reactions how we can continue to build and nurture connections.

Danuta A. Nitecki, PhD
Dean of Libraries