Saying Goodbye… and Hello

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.Student Presentation

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.

 

Deb Henry
Interim Dean

Adios!

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.
Students studying 2014
• 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.
Librarian helping student with research
• 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, Halloween 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.Collaboration station
• 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.Carol Hixson and Deb 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

Best wishes,

Carol Hixson

National Library Workers’ Day: April 14, 2015

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) (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.

Service, an open mind, and accountability pay off

As finals week for the fall 2014 semester is winding down, we in the Library are reflecting on how busy things have been. On Monday December 1, we experienced the highest door count in our history: 2113 visits. The previous record high count of 1661 was a year earlier on Monday December 9, 2013. We experienced a 21% increase overall in unique visits to the Library during the exam period this year over the same time period last year. To get a sense of how busy we were, you can visit a photo album on the Library’s Facebook page.

One thing that we see all the time is how often students are using the library space to work together, which was what we had in mind as we set about redesigning the space.Students Collaborating Whether they are using “old” technology like whiteboards
Using Whiteboards
or the new computer workstations on the busy collaboration zone of the first floor.
Collaboration at computers
When I get asked why our door counts are up 21% in a semester when enrollments are down, the deliberate redesign of our space to enable students to work together effectively would seem to be one reason.

But we also know that not everyone wants to collaborate all of the time. Sometimes, a quiet place to study is just what they want, as we saw this week as almost every single space of any shape or design was filled with students.
Students in old carrels
Whether they were taking advantage of our semi-quiet Scholars’ Lounge on the first floor
Scholars' Lounge
or were making use of our brand-new computer workstations on the designated quiet third floor.
quiet computer space - 3rd floor
We also opened up our instruction room on the second floor with dedicated computers as another quiet study area with computers. These steps have all been taken following student feedback. As much as we can, we try to give our students the type of equipment, space, and experience that they need to be successful.

But beyond redesigning the space, we continually redesign our services based on feedback from students and faculty. This semester, we provided instruction to 39% more students than for the fall semester of 2013.

We also hosted 83% more events for students than in the same semester last year. We pride ourselves on putting the students first, listening to what they have to say, and doing our best to give them what they need and want to have successful academic careers. Some of those events are less serious than others, such as our periodic visits from the Therapy Dogs International at stressful times, but they are all designed to engage, educate, and enlighten our students.
Therapy Dogs International December 2014

As part of increasing our transparency and accountability, we have also worked diligently to create up-to-date and informative reports from all library departments, documenting our activity, achievements, and challenges. We invite everyone to look at our Library Departmental and Committee Reports

The Poynter Library faculty and staff are a dedicated, hard-working, creative group of people. We have managed to accomplish some amazing things together. If anyone reading this posting is inspired to give us a hand, I invite you to visit our giving pages where you can see all the areas of support needed to enable us to continue to serve the students of this beautiful university. Join in the fun!

Upcoming Discussion on The Cost of Textbooks

On Thursday, October 23 from noon to 1 p.m. in the University Student Center, the Poynter Library and USFSP Student Government will be sponsoring a panel discussion on the Rising Cost of Textbooks : What’s the Answer? There will be four panelists who will each be addressing the issue from a different perspective:

  • Mr. Jay Hartfield, Manager, USFSP Barnes & Noble Campus Bookstore (the bookstore perspective)
  • Dr. Han Reichgelt, Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, USFSP (the faculty and administrative perspective)
  • Ms. Tina Neville, Head of Library Research and Instruction, Poynter Library (the Library perspective)
  • Mr. Juan Salazar, Student Government Representative and Psychology Major
    (the student perspective)

I will take five minutes to introduce the topic and the panelists. Each panelist will then have five minutes to outline their perspective. After all panelists have spoken, those in attendance will be encouraged to share their comments and questions.

This discussion is one of a series of events being sponsored by the Poynter Library in commemoration of International Open Access Week and it is also one of the regular Lunch & Learn Series coordinated by the Division of Student Affairs. All students, faculty, and administrators will be invited and encouraged to share their experiences.

Diversity and Inclusion at Our Core

On November 12, 2010, I posted a message on my Dean’s Messages web site on the topic of diversity. The message addressed one of the sculpted bronze hands embedded in the walls of the Poynter Library. One of those sculptures extols the value of DIVERSITY. I originally wrote about diversity as a response to a student who had contacted me wanting to know why we had hosted an exhibit on Black History but hadn’t done an exhibit on Irish Heritage Month. In the summer of 2013, I again addressed the issue when a student wrote to President Genshaft complaining about what she considered pornography in the Library because we were advertising a talk on the 1964 Florida Legislative Investigative Committee’s Report on “Homosexuality and citizenship in Florida” by using an image from the state government document showing two bare-chested men kissing.

These concerns from USFSP students, along with recent incidents in our community and around the country, make it clear that the topic merits much more discussion. For that reason, I am reposting my original message, with some additions.

The KKK incident in the City of St. Petersburg’s Stormwater Department that happened in October 2013 but was reported on by the Tampa Bay Times on August 16, 2014 is one indication of how close to the surface tensions around diversity really are. The August 9, 2014 shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager in Ferguson, Missouri and the subsequent reactions in that community and around the world have highlighted our need for closer self-examination and renewed commitment to a diverse, inclusive society. The ongoing battle in the courts about same-sex marriage is another manifestation of how divided we as a people are regarding diversity and inclusion. There are countless examples from around the country and the world of people wanting to be included in all the benefits enjoyed by others and accepted as they are and sometimes negative reactions from other members of society.

What is diversity and why do we consider it one of the core values of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and the Poynter Library? Diversity in the U.S. has often been a political hot-button, serving to divide rather than unite us. One of the definitions given in the Oxford English Dictionary is “a point of unlikeness; a difference, distinction; a different kind, a variety.” One simple definition, then, is variety in who we are and how we live.

Wikipedia lists many kinds of diversity, including political diversity, ethnic diversity, diversity training, biodiversity and more. Under political diversity, Wikipedia asserts that the term is used “to describe differences in racial or ethnic classifications, age, gender, religion, philosophy, physical abilities, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, gender identity, intelligence, mental health, physical health, genetic attributes, behavior, attractiveness, cultural values, or political view as well as other identifying features.”

In its statement on diversity in its mission and vision, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg asserts its “dedication to the diversity of human beings as well as diversity of ideas and viewpoints.” Respect and tolerance for different backgrounds, different abilities, different physical characteristics, different points of view, and different modes of self-expression are the cornerstones of our university. By accepting our right to be different and to be uniquely ourselves, we are able to call on a wider array of resources as we face new challenges. In diversity, we are strong.

We in the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library support and celebrate the diversity of our students and faculty, the university, our local community, and the world around us. Libraries actively strive to present multiple points of view. This is a principle that is well defined within the North American library community, as outlined by the American Library Association in the Library Bill of Rights. To this end, we will continue to host a wide variety of lectures and debates representing diverse points of view; we will continue to mount exhibitions on wide-ranging topics such as military history, Black history, Gay pride, Native American identity, Jewish culture, the Holocaust, Women’s History and more; we will continue to develop collections of materials that reflect a full range of viewpoints on important topics in support of the University’s courses and programs; we will continue to strive to serve all of our students in the ways that they need, such as our services to students with special needs through improving our Assistive Technologies Room and more.

The Nelson Poynter Memorial Library is a safe haven for all people and ideas. Come to the library (physically or virtually) where we will strive to make you feel safe to ask questions and explore the world around you, value you for who you are, and encourage you in your journey of self-discovery, self-expression and lifelong learning.

The Library this year will be developing a formalized diversity program. As we proceed, we will be inviting members of the campus and the broader community to take part and share experiences and insights. Drop me a note at hixson at usfsp.edu or call me at 873-4400 if you would like to be part of the discussion.

Relax, Study, Connect

The Library just acquired eight new comfy chairs that have places for you to plug in and connect your devices (phones, iPads, etc.) while you sit in a quiet spot and read, study, or just catch up with the world through your phone or other device.

These chairs are located in the stacks on the second and third floors of the Library and are part of our ongoing effort to redesign our space and make it comfortable, convenient, and connected. The third floor is designated as a quiet floor so use of cell phones should be limited to texting with the sound turned off, out of consideration for others around you.

If you’re new to USFSP, you can read about more of our efforts to redesign the Library in earlier posts on this blog under the topic of Library Design.

Unlike the USF Tampa Library or some other libraries at big universities, the Poynter Library has not received a special allocation for redesign. We depend upon the support of donors to help us transform the library to be the kind of place that our students want and need. Everytime you enjoy a new chair, computer, or collaboration station, know that someone in the community cared enough about you to make a donation so that we could serve you better.