This week (April 10-16) is National Library Week and the theme, “Libraries Transform,” appropriately describes what has happened in recent months at the Huffington Library.
Since 1958 National Library Week has been sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and all types of libraries each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.
With a new entrance and a reconfiguration of the first two floors, the structural changes to the Huffington Library are obvious. Less obvious, perhaps, are the interior transformations that have been implemented to promote and facilitate collaboration and group instruction.
“Now, on any given day, the Huffington Library is bustling with energy as students gather in groups, prepare work for presentations, create projects for classes and clubs, meet with classmates and faculty to study and learn any number of subjects and their applications,” said Sue Freymiller deVillier, director of the Huffington Library.
“As faculty, we carefully craft the curriculum to provide students with ample opportunity to learn from each other throughout their day. When they are able to work together, share ideas, and challenge each other’s thinking, they can create greater understanding than they can when learning individually,” she said.
A conservative estimate is that there are 300-plus library users on a class day, which doesn’t include visits to the IT Service Desk, campus visitors, and individual students, faculty, and staff, Assistant Librarian Vicki Crossley SS’71 said. The library is used for classes, workshops, general meetings, presentations, group study, mentor/mentee meetings, academic meetings, forums, tutorials. There are more than 100 students during evening CQ, she added.
The rationale behind these changes is reflected in the Huffington Library’s revised mission “to provide access to a wealth of resources through collaboration, instruction, and support by a caring, professional, knowledgeable, and innovative staff.”
Besides a more convenient entrance and a welcome desk on the ground level, the library has created additional collaborative space throughout the facility. There are now eight small group study rooms (with seating for four in each), two open seminar spaces, two spaces in fiction for classes, a Forum for larger meetings, and an open plan first floor to accommodate several classes at once.
With the increase of digital and electronic sources of information, the periodical room was replaced by the Forum – an enclosed meeting space with seating for 30-plus that can be reconfigured for classes, clubs, and special events.
There are still books, rest assured, since print resources still play a critical and unique role in student research projects at Culver. The library was overbuilt with shelving for 100,000 volumes; the collection, at its largest, was 55,000, Freymiller deVillier said. The collection was pared down and consolidated to create collaboration space and easier access by integrating the reference collection and moving fiction from the first floor to the second.
Books aren’t going away. “We take great pride in building a quality collection of titles to support curriculum and more,” Freymiller deVillier said, adding that though technology will continue to change, the access and readability of an actual book remains unchanged.
Campus visitors, Crossley noted, continue to enter the library and make a bee-line to the large first-floor windows looking out on Lake Maxinkuckee. Along the way, they now traverse a corridor of portrait and still-life artwork gifted to the Academies by Michael Huffington ’65.
That is just one of the Huffington Library changes typified by the 2016 National Library Week proclamation that reads “libraries and librarians are looking beyond their traditional roles and providing more opportunities for community engagement and delivery of new services that connect closely with patrons’ needs.”
That community engagement and new services can be found throughout the Academies’ student-filled Huffington Library.