Dean’s Update: Library Energies Warm a Cold Start of the Year

Dean’s Update: Library Energies Warm a Cold Start of the Year
Jenny James Lee
February 4, 2014

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 W. W. Hagerty Library open, thanks to a few of its hearty staff and security officers. Through that night and the next day, essential staff added 16 hours of access to this central learning environment. Over 1,800 visitors took advantage of having the space open, conducting nearly 300 circulation transactions. Working from home, librarians continued to provide assistance through the online chat service, where they answered questions and helped to guide research strategies.

Just as we returned to normal routines, thousands of professional colleagues arrived in town for the American Library Association mid-winter conference. The Libraries was happy to accommodate six requests for groups that needed more than a short time slot available at the convention center or a nearby hotel. The range of topics discussed among over 150 librarians and faculty who visited Drexel’s libraries – both in Center and University Cities – reflects the many issues the profession is tackling here in Philadelphia and across the country. Librarians are life-long learners themselves and many of the sessions addressed how to improve the librarian’s role in assisting students – both novice and seasoned – to navigate and evaluate resources to meet their needs for authoritative information. For years we have worked to improve policies and practices to better share resources among libraries and to develop efficient and cost-effective systems to locate and deliver materials to researchers. Others are working to offer effective language for use with vendors to negotiate licenses that permit fair access to publications our faculty create and to advocate for open access and protection of intellectual property rights. Library directors express concern for education of the profession as they aim to maintain an effective workforce through continued education, engagement in associations and advanced training.

For me, among the most exciting session we hosted involved exploring how librarians can apply their expertise to help faculty manage their research data. Drexel faculty shared their ideas to help clarify what data are worth preserving, the need for research collaborators to share data through the research cycle, and the importance to educate students in organizing their data for future use.

It was invigorating to engage with these many topics among our colleagues, but even more with faculty from other disciplines who shared their interests. Together we learned how librarians can contribute to our common passions of education and research. In spite of Mother Nature breathing her cold winds on us in January, she should be proud of our response in continuing to warm people’s spirits and intellectual curiosity through ensuring access to ideas and authoritative information, providing warm learning environments, and connecting experts from diverse perspectives to partner in evolving our learning enterprise.

Danuta A. Nitecki, PhD
Dean of Libraries