Furman University Libraries of the Future
Prepared by the Library Task Force 2000:
Dr. Janis Bandelin, Director, Library
Dr. John Beckford, Associate Professor, Music
Dr. Jane Chew, Chair of the Faculty, Professor, Classical and Modern Languages
Mr. David Coe, Student Representative, Class of 1999
Mr. Brink Hinson, Student Representative, Class of 2000
Dr. A.V. Huff, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean
Ms. Julie Jones, Student Representative, Class of 1999
Ms. Betty Kelly, Head of Collection Development/Acquisitions, Library
Mrs. Betsy Kinghorn, Parents Council
Mr. Richard Nelson, Director, Information Services
Mr. John Payne, Associate Director, Library
Dr. Joe Pollard, Professor, Biology
Dr. Lesley Quast, Professor, Education
Mr. Steve Richardson, Coordinator of Reference, Library
Mrs. Emilyn Sanders, Board of Trustees
Dr. Marian Strobel, Professor, History
[Table of Contents]
Furman University’s Strategic Plan 2001 states that the library "must become a major focus for and contributor to the university’s emphasis on engaged learning...where librarians and students are partners in learning." (i) The library has traditionally been considered the intellectual hub of university life, as it strives to support the curriculum and scholarly pursuits of students and faculty. The library has historically provided engaged learning opportunities through locating, evaluating, and applying information. However, in order for the library to fully contribute to the engaged learning mission, the library building, collections, staffing, and technology must be enhanced. With a building expansion and renovation, with greater support for library resources, with additional staffing, and with the revitalization of present services and innovation in the creation of new services, the library could truly fulfill its potential. It is generally agreed that the library should reflect Furman’s reputation as a nationally recognized liberal arts college. As stated in the university’s strategic plan, it is the goal of the library to "be a leader among national liberal arts colleges in teaching critical thinking, information retrieval and assessment skills, the judicious application of information technology, and in fostering life-long learning." (ii) In essence, the library must be "re-invented" as a new, vibrant intellectual center, an inviting environment for students and faculty to interact with knowledge and with each other. In order to do so, the library must provide outstanding resources, services, and staff, in a safe, inviting, multi-functional, and aesthetically pleasing facility.
1. THE LIBRARY AS A PLACE
While increasingly electronic resources are creating "a library without walls," where patrons can access library resources and information from remote computer labs, offices and homes, there is still a need for the library as a place. The library is an intellectual meeting place for the Furman community. It is the intellectual heart of the university. The library needs to be a place where students and faculty can go to meet with others to increase their understanding of the production, organization, and dissemination of information. It needs to be a place where librarians can teach students and faculty how to access, evaluate and apply information; a place that is conducive to contemplation, study, discovery, collaboration and engaged learning. A variety of activities should take place there, from best-seller relaxation for individuals to course-integrated library instruction in groups, from individual research conducted on scholar’s workstations to collaborative, stimulating group study experiences.
George Starr, professor of English at UC-Berkeley, provides one definition of a library: "not solely or primarily repositories of bits of information, to be stored, retrieved, and delivered on demand, but places where work-in-progress can encounter work achieved. [It] ought to be a space within which writing meets and absorbs the written, thinking finds and appropriates the thought, seeing perceives and re-envisions the already ‘seen.’" (iii) Bringing this definition to reality is a daunting task.
2. CURRENT FACILITIES
The Furman University Libraries consist of the James B. Duke Library, the Ezell Science Reading Room, and the Maxwell Music Library. The James B. Duke Library and the Ezell Science Reading Room do not reflect Furman’s reputation as a nationally ranked liberal arts college. Both rank below "C" in space for users, collections, and staff by Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) standards.(iv) The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation committee recommended the renovation and expansion of the existing main library or the construction of a new library facility.
2.1 James B. Duke Library
The James B. Duke Library is geographically located at the center of campus, convenient to four classroom buildings, the university center and the dining hall. Its location is symbolic of the centrality it should have in the lives of students and faculty. In addition, the attractive main entrance through a colonnaded porch and the magnificent view of Milford Mall and Daniel Chapel from the porch are strengths of the building. However, the functionality of the building has diminished over time. In Fall 1996, the SACS Committee found existing facilities overcrowded and said that additional "technological services, collections space, and seating capacity are needed."(v) More than forty years ago, when the James B. Duke Library first opened its doors to the Furman Community, the building was designed to house 250,000 volumes. Today, the library houses over 390,000 volumes. In 1956, the building provided seating for 750 students -- 50% of the student body at that time. In 1998, the library seats only 11% of the student population. ACRL standards recommend seating for 25%. (vi) With its emphasis on engaged learning activities including research and independent study, 35% would be more appropriate for Furman.
Other inadequacies of the building include the fact that it does not meet ADA requirements, does not provide well for new and emerging technologies, lacks space for library instruction, provides no group study facilities for students, provides sub-standard and an inadequate number of faculty carrels, lacks appropriate space for library faculty, lacks appropriate space for archives and special collections, and is difficult for students to "navigate" due to a complex floor plan and poor signage. Additional inadequacies include insufficient lighting, poor air circulation, lack of a compliant fire alarm signaling system, inadequate fire escape routes, lack of a fire sprinkling system, lack of a source of emergency power, and lack of a compliant primary and secondary voltage power distribution, switch, and current protection system.
2.2 Ezell Science Reading Room A major philosophical decision needs to be made on the future direction of the Science Reading Room, which houses science periodicals in the areas of biology, chemistry, earth and environmental sciences, and physics. A number of the science faculty and students who use this facility appreciate being in close proximity to science journals for teaching and research purposes. However, the division of the science collection, with books housed in Duke Library and journals in the Science Reading Room, is clearly a serious inconvenience for both students and faculty. The physical facility of the Science Reading Room is also inadequate, as it is crowded, disorganized, poorly maintained, and provides no security for the materials housed there. Other facility inadequacies include insufficient space for readers, over-crowded stacks, inadequate lighting, lack of elevator access between floors, no computer access, poor air circulation, and non-compliance with ADA standards. Finally, with the exception of one student assistant who works ten hours per week re-shelving materials (of the 100 hours per week that the facility is open) there is no library staff member to assist students in finding and using materials. The science collection should be housed under one roof, where both technological resources and staff assistance are available. The SACS Committee recommended the integration of science resources into the expanded and renovated Duke Library.(vii) Jay Lucker, the library building consultant hired by the university, presented three options for effectively housing this collection: 1) expansion into additional adjacent space in Plyler Hall, 2) relocation to a new facility adjoining Plyler Hall, or 3) incorporation into an expanded and renovated Duke Library as an identifiable collection. (viii)
2.3 Maxwell Music Library
With the opening of the Maxwell Music Library in March of 1998, students and faculty have access to music-related books, scores, compact disks, cassettes, videos, and electronic resources in a spacious, attractive and secure facility, with appropriate staffing. Over 8000 volumes (about one year’s growth in the Duke Library) have been transferred to the new facility.
3. POTENTIAL NEW AREAS AND SERVICES
With the campus-wide emphasis on engaged learning, collaboration across departments and disciplines will benefit our community of learners. In addition, the integration of campus resources and services into the library can reduce duplication of efforts and increase cost-effectiveness. When collections are not optimally available to students because of poor facilities, lack of staffing, or cataloging, we must explore ideas to improve access. Since library resources and services will rely increasingly on information technology, collaboration with Information Services would be natural and symbiotic.
3.1 Student Study Spaces
Perhaps the greatest need in an expanded library facility is for additional public spaces. The current facility seats only 11% of the student body, whereas the ACRL standard for a residential liberal arts college is 25%, and 35% might be a more appropriate figure for an institution such as Furman. A mix of study spaces accomodating different individual learning styles is essential. In particular, there is a great need for group study rooms which would allow the interaction that is necessary for collaborative learning. A 24 hour study area, where students could study and have access to technological resources after the library is closed, would be highly desirable. In addition, students would greatly welcome a lounge area where they could study or take breaks, and where food and drinks would be available.
3.2 Computer Help Desk and Academic Computer Lab
As the center of information access on campus, the library represents a logical location for the principal Computer Help Desk and Academic Computer Lab. Significant advantages could be realized by relocating the user support component of Information Services as well as the main academic computing lab to the library. Students and faculty could be more productive thinkers, scholars, and writers, if they have access to "one-stop-shopping" for information technology help. Scholars workstations would provide bibliographic and full-text information as well as providing word processing, spreadsheet and database software. This co-habitation would encourage creative collaboration and maximize service by providing students and faculty with the content expertise of librarians and the technical expertise of computing professionals. By having the Help Desk and main computer lab located in the library, there would be better access to computers for students, increased assistance, cost-effective supervision of the equipment, and a place where high quality, fast, color printing can occur on a cost-recovery basis.
3.3 Multimedia Services
The library is in the best position to provide emerging audio-visual materials and services. By nature, it is adaptive to new technologies, and today information is provided in many different formats including CD-ROM, video, microfiche, microfilm, and print. Some academic departments have developed their own audio-visual collections. These could be considered for incorporation into a central multimedia collection located in the library. The Duke Library has a growing collection of over 1200 videos, however, we have substandard viewing rooms. Many academic libraries built within the last 20 years include a multimedia area which provides software (videotapes, laserdiscs, etc.), listening/viewing stations for in-house patrons and offices from which the distribution of multimedia software and equipment can be coordinated across campus.
3.4 Education Curriculum and Juvenile Materials Collection
The several thousand items in the Education Curriculum Collection (located in Furman Hall) could be moved to the expanded Library and housed in a special facility along with juvenile literature. This collection would be displayed in an area similar to an actual school library, with lower shelving and with displays, activity areas, etc. This facility would serve the curricular needs of students entering the teaching profession as well as acquainting them with the resources and services that are available in an excellent school library.
3.5 Communication Lab
Faculty members can be expected to make increasing use of multimedia tools in their teaching in the coming years. A Communication Lab will soon be created to support faculty use under the auspices of the Center for Engaged Learning. It will include software development tools as well as hardware such as scanners and a digital camera. While initially planned for Furman Hall, it may be desirable to relocate this facility to the expanded library. This would provide a central location convenient for most faculty. It would also put the facility near the Computer Help Desk, so that assistance in using these tools would generally be readily available, and near the library collections, from which much of the content of multimedia presentations will undoubtedly be drawn.
4. THE ROLE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
Information technology will become increasingly central to the identity of the library in the 21st Century. In order to effectively serve the information needs of the Furman community, the library must enhance its commitment to information technology in three ways. First, the library must have the technological infrastructure and digital resources necessary for teaching, learning, and scholarship in the 21st century. Second, the library must become "virtually present" as an information resource at all points on campus--a "library without walls" that is accessible in classrooms, laboratories, dorm rooms, and beyond. Third, the library must provide the facilities for teaching both students and faculty how to effectively use new information resources -- from the mechanics of using them, to the information literacy needed to use them wisely, to the techniques and creativity required to create them.
For the foreseeable future, digital information resources will not replace printed materials, but online research tools will continue to grow in importance. In some cases online tools will replace their printed equivalents altogether (as databases have already replaced printed indexes and abstracts and are in the process of replacing many reference sources), while in other areas they will serve as complements to their printed equivalents (such as online journals, which complement printed periodicals much as microfilm has in the past.) In all aspects of life, computers will become increasingly ubiquitous, and within a decade one could anticipate not only that every student will come to college with a computer, but that they will have computers with them most hours of the day. Student and faculty expertise in the use of computers for research and information manipulation will certainly grow, but experience has shown that the complexity of such tools increases more quickly than most people’s natural learning curve in using them.
Information technology presents dazzling possibilities, but also dizzying complexities. For students and faculty to effectively realize the potential of information technology in scholarship, facilities are required that allow them to learn how to access these tools, use them with appropriate assistance and guidance, develop information literacy to learn to use them wisely, and give them the opportunity to create new tools for themselves and others.
5. LIBRARY COLLECTIONS
The collections of the libraries must be built upon the mission of the library; that is, to support the curricular needs of faculty and students. Furman University Libraries need not just adequate, but outstanding collections to support the university's strong liberal arts curriculum.
In order to make decisions regarding the future of our collections, librarians must work in the present, and study what was needed in the past. Library collections are never stagnant; they are constantly evolving bodies of works. The collections, while always supporting the curriculum, are affected by changes in the university mission, changes in staffing, changes in programs, and changes in budgets. The collections of the libraries, in all their various formats, need to be built, organized, displayed, and analyzed in a myriad of ways, from the tried-and true to the experimental and unique.
Print resources are still the dominant medium in libraries, and book collections will continue to grow and be central to the missions of those libraries. Traditional resources will be complemented, not supplanted, by electronic resources in the coming decades. Increased space for physical collections will be a vital component of the expanded library facility.
Furman is not a research institution, but the library can provide excellent support for its undergraduate and collaborative research programs through a judicious mix of purchased materials, subscriptions to sources for electronic access, and an active program of document delivery and interlibrary loan. The Furman libraries will need to continue to explore commercial document delivery as a viable alternative to journal ownership. To supplement collections, cooperative ventures with other academic institutions need to be explored that will enable the library to use existing budgets more effectively, reduce unnecessary overlap with neighboring institutions, and allow for coordination of storage and preservation.
6. LIBRARY SERVICES AND STAFFING
The library provides a variety of important services critical to the academic success of students and to the continuing professional development of faculty. From one-on-one reference service to interlibrary loan service, from offering an impressive array of electronic databases to teaching classes how to access and use them, from updating library holdings information in Alcuin to providing circulation and course reserves, the level of services is directly related to the quality and quantity of librarians and library staff. A majority of students, faculty and staff responding to the library survey administered in Spring 1997 rated library personnel as "efficient, helpful and courteous." However, the quantity of library faculty and staff is a glaring weakness.
It was once thought that automation would reduce the number of library staff needed to select, order, organize and distribute library materials. The past twenty years have shown that while automating library processes improves service by providing patrons with more information resources in less time, user expectations have increased. In some areas, such as reference and bibliographic instruction, computerization has actually created a need for more librarians. Librarians are needed to teach students critical thinking skills in accessing, evaluating, and using information. In addition, rapid changes in information technology require ongoing and systematic training for library faculty and staff.
7. THE LIBRARY AS A LABORATORY OF ENGAGED LEARNING
In the next century the tools of education, the sources of information, and especially their relationship to learning in the liberal arts, will change dramatically. Furman’s strategy for the future focusing on engaged learning calls for the extension and enrichment of academic and experiential learning environments. It is crucial that the library create a physical and intellectual environment that will accommodate the broadening range of academic and social interactions needed for this to take place. This also calls for a strategy for establishing a broad base of information literacy among students in all disciplines. The library’s initiatives for curriculum-integrated instruction must be relied on to help shape and complement these learning environments. The potential of collaborative learning and research will be realized in direct proportion to the degree that information literacy and knowledge of the access and availability of information are integrated into the curriculum.
To support the library instruction program, a number of enhancements are needed. The most significant of these enhancements is a new instructional technology classroom. The Bradshaw Room in Duke Library is an excellent facility for multimedia presentation and is heavily used in library instruction. However, there is an evident need for a teaching facility in the library which would permit both presentation and hands-on use of information technology. This classroom, equipped with enough computer workstations for an entire class, could be used both in library instruction and in general orientation of students to the campus network and basic computer tools such as word processors and web browsers.
CONCLUSION: WHITHER THE LIBRARY?
On the 40th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the James B. Duke Library, Dr. Elizabeth Locke, the director of the Duke Endowment, delivered the Founder’s Day address and said, referring to the library, "They didn’t just build a building; they created an engine of learning that fuels the entire university." (ix) That engine of learning is in great need of renewal if it is to provide the kind of intellectual center the university deserves.
In his inaugural speech, President David Shi mentioned the need to focus additional resources on the library "so as to restore its role as the fulcrum of our academic life." (x) In the past three years, there have been increases in the library budget, improvements to the physical facility, and significant increases in electronic databases. However, to meet the goals set forth for the library in the university’s strategic plan, much more remains to be done.
What will be the future of the Furman University Libraries?
Their future will be determined by our level of commitment to educating our students. Enhancements in areas of staffing, collections, information technology, and engaged learning are inextricably tied to facilities improvements. As we continue collecting print materials (12,000 volumes last year) we need space to put them. If we hire more faculty and staff, we must provide appropriate offices and workspaces for them. While electronic resources are proliferating, we cannot provide appropriate access to them without changes in the building infrastructure, since appropriate network wiring must be retrofitted. Finally, how can we engage students in the learning process when we do not provide appropriate instructional facilities or enough individual and group study spaces for them to read, do research, and collaborate? Inadequate facilities will hamper other improvements from going forward, as pointed out by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools(xi) and as evidenced by our own experience. A renovated and expanded facility is essential to the university at this time to increase opportunities for engaged learning and provide a more attractive, comfortable, and efficient place to think, study, and work.
If we are prepared to make the commitment now, the Furman library of the 21st Century could engage the spirit of the students of the future as much as the Furman lake and Daniel Chapel do today. It could be even more than a place that enhances the learning process -- it could be a place that students cherish, and that truly makes a difference in their lives.
i. Furman 2001: A Community of Engaged Learning Committed to Developing the Whole Person, p. 16-17. [Return to Text]
ii. Ibid., pg. 26.[Return to Text]
iii. Quoted in Shoemaker, Sarah. Collection Management: Current Issues. NY: Neal-Schuman, 1989. [Return to Text]
iv. American Library Association, Association of College and Research Libraries, Standards Committee of ACRL’s College Library Section. "Standards for College Libraries, 1995," College and Research Libraries News (April 1995):245. (Standard 6: Facilities) [Return to Text]
v. "SACS Final Report 1997," 5.1.2 Services, Recommendation 3, p. 11. [Return to Text]
vi. Lucker, Jay K., "Report on Furman University Library Space and Related Issues," 1/16/98, p. 4.[Return to Text]
vii. Ibid., p. 11.[Return to Text]
viii. Lucker report, p. 4[Return to Text]
ix. Furman Reports vol. 29, No. 4, Spring 1996. [Return to Text]
x. Furman Magazine, Vol. 39, No. 1, 1995 [Return to Text]
xi. "SACS Final Report 1997," 5.1.2 Services, Recommendation 3, p. 11. [Return to Text]