by Dean Duane Strojny
I want it all! Okay, I am generally not that greedy, but there have been quite a few things in the library world that I have come across that either I want to physically have or electronically have access to. There is no rhyme or reason to these desires except that after a fairly long time in one place, a person tends to look at the other side of the fence to see how green it really is.
On that note, here are some neat, newer things that might make our lives a little more comfortable and interesting as well as a few library management observations:
- Our Lansing library building is celebrating its 25th anniversary which is cool. The problem is that much of the furniture is also 25 years old. It has been recovered and refinished over time, but I want something more exciting as well. Libraries need to be more than just a traditional reading room as discussed in a recent issue of University Business. Consider that the three year old Grand Valley State University Library in Allendale, MI has 29 different types of student seating. They have had approximately 1 million visitors a year through the door at a school of 25,000 students. That’s about 40 visits per year from each student. I am thinking if I improve my seating, we might see more visits?
- In addition to new seating, I want mobile white boards. Even though all our study rooms have wall-mounted white boards, the mobile ones can be very flexible. They can be signs in your lobby, serve for impromptu group collaborating, or even serve as dividers. A lot of law libraries already have some of these floating around, but they are really popping up at undergraduate academic libraries. Speaking of dividers, I want to go a step further and request campfire screens. Of course, these are not something used with outdoor fire pits. They help create a study alcove where there are no walls. I suspect they can be moved fairly easily. These things are what students are looking for as they seek out comfortable study spaces.
- Demco notes that there are three key zones in the library to serve as a learning commons; meeting spaces, impromptu socialization areas, and quite study areas. I want to make students aware that the library already offers them this great place that serves these various needs. Most academic law libraries have that covered, but how you market yourself for those purposes is what ultimately attracts patrons. Do you have a large screen T.V. someplace? Can you host events within the library easily?
- I want to implement emerging strategies for supporting student learning. There is a new book on the topic, Emerging Strategies for Supporting Student Learning by Barbara Allen, that although British based, has a number of interesting ideas law librarians could adapt to their situation to be more effective in how we approach our interactions with students and ultimately help them be successful in school, passing the bar, and finding a great job.
- Leadership is a skill that can always be improved upon, and it is a very different concept from supervision. I want my colleagues to acknowledge that and for library staff to realize they all have the potential to lead. I am beginning to read Leadership in Place, edited by Jon F. Wergin, and it presents a solid picture of the way things are in academia and how anyone can potentially change something. That is a strong lesson in a time when law schools are facing tumultuous times.
- Finally, I want to let American Association of Law Libraries members know that the work of the Annual Meeting Programming Committee is amazing. After being an AALL member for 27 years, I was selected for the committee. It is a lot of work but very interesting and very rewarding. There are a lot of good ideas out there. I guess if nothing else, I can appreciate the work of those who have gone before me in this role and remind members to do two things. First, volunteer at the national level. You may never know what you will be selected to help with. And second, use the national organization to network. There are so many talented librarians out there that you are bound to find someone to bounce your ideas or questions off of.
There, I feel better about getting this all out there and reminding myself about all of the great things that I already have. Since I began drafting this post, I have had a close friend lose a job, a department meeting where I had to say some things one of the attendees was not happy to hear, and a colleague was able to show me I could get some of the “wants” listed if I think outside of the box. It makes you appreciate where you are standing and forces you to re-evaluate what you really want versus what you really need.