On behalf of myself, the faculty and staff of the library, I want to express my gratitude to Dean Carol Hixson for her excellent leadership these past five plus years. Carol is fond of saying that Poynter Library is “not your Grandmother’s library.” Under her direction, the staff have moved the library into the 21st century, doing so with vision, collaboration, and lots of hard work. In her last blog entry as Dean, she has highlighted several of the successful accomplishments.
In bringing her expertise to USFSP and leading the creation and growth of the USFSP Digital Archive, she provided many of us with a new and very exciting opportunity to expand our skills while providing a suite of valuable Archive services to the faculty, students and administration. Other ventures enabled the members of the library’s various departments to develop and enhance talents and to improve services and communication with the USFSP community. Carol’s vision encouraged the expansion of the Library’s events and programs, including faculty and student research lectures and multicultural events that benefited the entire community. At a time when electronic resources can reduce the number of physical visits to a library, our spaces are hopping! The individual and collaborative study and work spaces are continually busy throughout the year.
Dean Hixson quickly recognized the dedication, creativity, and passion of the library faculty and staff and worked hard to support scholarly activities and professional development opportunities for all. She gave us wide latitude to study, explore, test, and implement so many ideas to keep the library, its resources, and its spaces vibrant and attractive to our community of users. Most importantly, Carol also allowed us to “fail”, learn, and move on to better ideas.
Carol’s dedication to her profession, to higher education in general, and the role libraries can and should play in the academic environment is a model to us all. She leaves USFSP a much richer place for having served here. Personally, I wish to express my admiration for her and my thanks for all the encouragement I have personally received. While the library is sad to lose her, we wish her the very best in her new position as Dean of the Libraries at Florida Atlantic University.
This is my final message as Dean of the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library. I came to USF St. Petersburg in August 2009 to take over leadership of the Poynter Library. In the past five and a half years, we have transformed the physical and virtual space of the Library and have redefined the services we provide to the students and faculty of USFSP. We did this strategically, working closely with the students and with colleagues across the University to be sure we were anticipating and meeting their changing needs. We did this collegially, involving all library faculty and staff, valuing every individual’s contributions, celebrating each individual and group success. I am proud of every member of the Poynter Library family and what we have accomplished together.
In the last five and a half years, we have:
• built a welcoming, attractive, and highly functional space centered around students on the first floor of the Library and we have been gradually expanding the redesign to the second and third floors.
• developed a new service model that takes advantage of the skill and expertise of our front-line employees to help library users with their basic service needs and that calls in a reference librarian when there is the need for more in-depth research assistance.
• built the USFSP Digital Archive where we showcase the work of our faculty and our students and also store the institutional memory of USFSP.
• developed traditions for students like the Annual Halloween Costume Contest, the Annual Reception for New Graduate Students, the visits twice a semester from Therapy Dogs International, the Student Research Colloquium, and much more.
• engaged with the broader community through events and lectures, like the recent Living Books event in November 2014.
• expanded access to technology and online resources through the purchase of more laptops, the installation of open-use computers on every floor, the acquisition of collaboration workstations on the first and second floors, and the upgrade of our group study rooms.
• developed online modules for many basic library and information literacy needs so that students can learn how to carry out research, cite an article, avoid plagiarism, and much more when it’s convenient for them 24/7 and at their own pace.
• developed a robust professional development environment for faculty teaching online courses through the Online Learning and Instructional Technology Services department.
• And much more.
I now turn the reins over to Interim Dean of Library Deborah Henry. Deb has been a member of the Poynter Library faculty since 1988 and is well known and highly regarded across the campus and the state. She knows the ins and outs of the Poynter Library and USFSP and has been actively involved in planning for and making many of the recent changes happen. She is a thought leader who has always gone the extra mile in providing outstanding library service. For those of you who already know her, you will be happy to work with her in this new role. For those who have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Interim Dean Henry, you will be delighted to get to know her and work with her.
Adios, muchachos y muchachas! It has been a blast. My new position is that of Dean of University Libraries at Florida Atlantic University, starting in August. Anyone wanting to reach me there, can send an email with my last name @fau.edu
April 14 is National Library Workers’ Day, celebrated on the Tuesday of National Library Week for the last fifteen years.
This year, the American Library Association has created a moderated blog where anyone can write in to celebrate a library star – someone who has gone above and beyond to provide outstanding service, to inspire others, to connect people with each other and with the information they need to be successful. Because I work with an amazing group of people, I decided to nominate the entire faculty and staff of the Poynter Library by saying this:
Poynter Library Faculty and Staff from an academic library in St. Petersburg, FL, is a Star because the entire faculty and staff of the Poynter Library of USFSP have put the students of the university at the heart of everything they do. They bring energy, creativity, vision and dedication to the job every day, inspiring each other and the rest of the campus with their accomplishments and work ethic. The Poynter Library has a reputation on campus as being THE place to work because the people celebrate each other’s successes and support one another through the tough times. Together, this group has transformed the library into the true intellectual hub of the campus, showing the students, faculty, and administration just what a group of smart, creative people can accomplish when they have a shared vision.
(Photo by Chris Campbell, cropped)
If a librarian or library worker here or anywhere has inspired you, write in to the blog at http://ala-apa.org/nlwd/ and tell the world.
Since 2011, the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library has been creating digital collections that celebrate the history, scholarship, and community connections of USF St. Petersburg. To date, efforts have been focused on the USFSP Digital Archive which has almost 13,000 items (about 1/4 in Community and Campus Outreach, 1/4 in Scholarly Works, and 1/2 in University Archives) that have been viewed over 4,700,000 times from over 100 countries around the world.
Featured collections from and for the community include the archive of Forum : the Magazine of the Florida Humanities Council, St. Petersburg Arts Alliance publications, the archive of the student newspaper, The Crow’s Nest, the work of COQEBS (the Concerned Organization for the Quality Education if Black Students),
and Harbor Notes Weekly.
In the Scholarly Works section, you can learn about the work of 76% of our tenure-track faculty, see who some of our Faculty Experts are, enjoy some of our Faculty Research Lightning Talks, or see some of the cutting-edge research being carried out by our undergraduate and graduate students. In the University Archives section, you can learn about the history of USFSP, including the work of our Regional Chancellor Dr. Sophia Wisniewska or keep up on the ongoing work for the University’s Vision 20/20 Strategic Plan. As the digital collections mature, the Library is now preparing to create digital collections that feature the rare and unique materials donated to the Library in support of the Florida Studies Program, Anthropology, Marine Science, World Languages, and more. These are exciting times for the Library, the University, and our community.
If you want to be part of the effort, please visit the web site in support of the USFSP Digital Archive. Check back here for updates as we move forward.
As I welcome everyone to the spring 2015 semester, I wanted to renew my emphasis on the importance of diversity and inclusion as a guiding principle of the Poynter Library.
In a recent message from American Library Association (ALA) President Courtney Young, she noted that “diversity is an essential value for everyone working in a library or pursuing a degree in library and information science or a related field. Libraries that have the most significant impact on their communities understand and embrace the importance of diversity. They showcase their librarians, staff, and volunteers as members of a vibrant community and their library as a place where difference is welcome.” She has recently established a Diversity Membership Initiative Group whose mission is to “provide:
A space for success stories and best practices and broadly highlight examples of activities that have improved services and fostered organizational change;
A community of practice for members to discuss ideas, concepts, and methods to positively impact library services to increasingly diverse populations;
A base for deepening our discussion and collective understanding of diversity and inclusion issues across our professional organizations.”
Like ALA, the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library has made increasing awareness and celebration of diversity a top priority. The Library’s Diversity Committee is charged to make recommendations to me as Dean on:
defining the scope of diversity needs within the context of the System’s, the University’s and the Library’s strategic plans and mission statements
reviewing Poynter Library services, collections, and technology to ensure full support for people of all backgrounds and perspectives
the development of signature events, services, collections, and exhibits to promote diversity and inclusion
improving the library’s work environment to ensure a safe, welcoming, supportive environment for all Library faculty and staff
arranging staff development opportunities to increase awareness and appreciation of different backgrounds and perspectives
reviewing recruitment and hiring practices within the Library to promote diversity and inclusion
reviewing policies and procedures to remove obstacles and promote greater diversity and inclusion
developing the Library as a role model for diversity for the USFSP community
The Diversity Committee made a tremendous start with the fall Multicultural Day the centerpiece of which was the Living Library event. For the spring, the Committee is working on a new program to explore tensions between police and African-American communities across the United States.
Every librarian and library staff member is committed to providing a safe haven for every member of the USFSP community and the broader community of which we are a part. I encourage students, faculty, and community members to tell me their concerns, send me their suggestions, and show up for our events in support of a truly diverse and inclusive community.
As author Scott Page notes in The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies, “When a collection of people work together, and one person makes an improvement, the others can often improve on this new solution even further: improvements build on improvements. Diverse perspectives and diverse heuristics apply sequentially: one gets applied after the other, and in combination. One plus one often exceeds two” (2007, p. 340). This is the goal of the Poynter Library’s diversity awareness programming. Please join us and let your voice and your perspective be heard.
This week the Library hosted its first comprehensive multicultural event, the centerpiece of which was the Living Library.
The Living Library brings in people from different backgrounds to be “Living Books” so that others can “check them out” and have a conversation with them about their life’s experiences. The Poynter Library’s first Living Books included USFSP students, faculty, and staff as well as people from the surrounding community.
All Living Book participants selected a book title and Associate Librarian Kaya van Beynen, Chair of the Library’s Diversity Committee, created book covers to guide attendees to their selected Living Book.
In our first effort, we had 12 Living Books and approximately 70 students and others who came to have conversations and learn a little bit about what life was like for someone with a background different from their own.
Following the Living Library event, Dr. Vikki Gaskin Butler, USFSP Instructor of Psychology, presided over a Mediterranean Luncheon (catered by Maazzaro’s) and led a discussion about the event asking people to share what they had learned and with whom they were going to share what they learned. Discussion among attendees and Living Books was lively, with feedback making it clear that everyone thought it was great start to what they hoped would be an ongoing event. The day concluded with a demonstration of SAA Bollywood Dance Team’s performance of “Nagada Sang Dhol”
For more information about the event, participants, and to see posters, pictures, and videos, please visit the event site at: http://dspace.nelson.usf.edu/xmlui/handle/10806/12396
As part of the Poynter Library’s renewed focus on issues of diversity and inclusion, we will be hosting a series of events in 2014/2015 to promote conversation between the USFSP community and people from many different backgrounds. The University’s strategic mission places an emphasis on being inclusive and supportive of diverse backgrounds. As I’ve mentioned before in this space, libraries in the United States abide by the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights which asserts that librarians have a responsibility to ensure that all points of view are represented in our services and collections. To bring this principle to life, the Library is hosting a series of events to encourage conversation, reflection, and questioning of assumptions about other people.
The first event is scheduled for November 6 at 6 p.m. in Poynter Corner. Jean-Charles Faust, the President of the French-American Business Council of West Florida and French Honorary Consul will be speaking about “The French Economic Presence in the Tampa Bay Area.” Co-sponsored by the Library and the Department of Society, Culture, and Language, the event is free and open to the public. French wine and cheese will be served.
On November 18, on the Library’s first floor, we will be holding our first “Living Library” event. Following a model utilized by libraries around the world in the Human Library movement, this event takes the concept of inclusion to a new level and challenges us all to confront our preconceived notions about people from different backgrounds. Individuals from the local community and from USFSP have volunteered to participate as “Living Books” available for checkout for short conversations about their background and experiences, just as in this image from a Human Library event in Copenhagen. The intent is to encourage conversation and understanding among people who might otherwise not have a chance to interact except at a very superficial level. USFSP students and others will benefit from broadening their awareness of the world around them. Starting at 9 a.m. and going until 11 a.m., there will be four separate discussion sessions with 10 minutes in between for people to move to another individual “Living Book” for a new conversation. Following the morning discussions, food from different cultures will be served at an informal luncheon served in the Library’s Poynter Corner. Dr. Vikki-Gaskin Butler, Instructor, Psychology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at USFSP, will be leading a wrap-up discussion of the morning’s event at the luncheon. This event is free and open to the public and is co-sponsored by USFSP’s University Advancement office
Come broaden your outlook at the Poynter Library.