An Interview with Library Director Douglas Anderson
March 30, 2006
It didn't take Douglas Anderson too many days on the job as Director of the Library at Marietta College to figure out what his priority would be. He actually knew before he took the position that leading the College through the transition and successful execution of a new learning and library resource center would be his focus.
Anderson has embraced the opportunity as a way to make a name for himself and to provide Marietta College with a top-notch library.
Throughout the demolition and construction of the new library, which is scheduled to open in January of 2009, College Relations will conduct Question & Answer sessions with people involved in the project as a way to provide the College's publics with the latest information.
By now, most people on campus know that the College is looking to build a new $17 million library. Could you tell us some of the amenities you expect students and faculty would be pleased to hear will be included?
One key area that we plan to incorporate into the design of the new library is an Information Commons. This area will unite the public Internet workstations and traditional reference service area that we have had for several years with an information technology help desk. This combination will allow students to get research assistance and technology assistance at the same place.
We are also paying a great deal of attention to how student study habits are evolving due to societal changes and changing faculty instructional methods. This is leading us to design student study seating areas and group study rooms that accommodate these new and different needs. Another related feature is the inclusion of a Cyber Café associated with a 24-hour study space for students.
A Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) that focuses on bringing innovative teaching ideas to the faculty is yet another key concept in the building design. Encompassing such features as a flexible classroom space that allows faculty to put innovative instructional methods into practice and faculty champion offices that individual professors will use to develop new instructional resources using high-end multi-media workstations, the TLC will have a major impact on how teaching is done at Marietta College.
Although there will be many new as well as traditional features to the building, the last one that I will emphasize is the Special Collections Reading Room. Here will be an elegant space where researchers can use our archival and special materials in intensive research in a secure and appealing atmosphere.
It is also well known that the new learning and library resource center will be located in the same general area as the current Dawes Memorial Library. Since the new library will not open until January 2009, can you explain what the transition is going to be like for the campus as everyone waits for the grand opening?
First of all, I want to make it clear that we will continue to provide library services at the same level and over the same weekly schedule that we always have. To do this, we will maintain service desks on two different floors of a renovated Mills Hall. One floor will house the circulation desk plus our active collections of material (books, audiovisual media, etc.). Another floor will provide a reference desk, Internet workstations, the IT help desk, and collections of non-circulating materials such as periodicals and microforms.
During the construction period, our inactive collections of general materials, such as books and periodicals, will be stored in warehouse space somewhere in the Marietta area. We will set up a mechanism in our online catalog system whereby students and faculty can request materials from the inactive collections so that library staff can retrieve the requested material for pickup on campus at our service locations in Mills Hall by the next day.
We will also have a service point for our Special Collections in another space on campus, probably in Thomas Hall. This office will provide a reading room and access to the active portions of our archival and rare materials collections. The inactive portions of our special collections will likely be stored farther away, perhaps out of town, in order to provide the environment with temperature and humidity control and higher levels of security that they require.
You say that Mills Hall is going to be renovated to provide a better atmosphere for library operations, but can students and faculty really expect to receive the same quality attention and the same hours of operation?
Absolutely. As I mentioned earlier, we will maintain the same hours of operation that we currently have. The hours for the reference desk should be the same as well. Renovations to the building will upgrade the space to create an appropriate environment for our student and faculty patrons.
We actually are planning to offer some new services during this period as well. For example, we will begin moving toward the service concept of the Information Commons that we will be incorporating into the new building. To do this, we will combine the workstations on both the main and lower levels of the current library into one area serviced by both reference librarians and IT staff. In addition we are also looking for an appropriate space on campus to provide 24-hour access for study.
You have only been on the job at Marietta College for a few months. How has the transition been and how much of your time has been committed to the library project?
The willingness of everyone that I have dealt with to plunge into this exciting project has made it a great experience. All involved, from the library staff to the College administration, as well as folks in so many other areas of the College, have devoted their energy toward making this project a success. As a guess, I would say that about 85 percent of my time is devoted to the building and transition projects. The rest is focused on the day-to-day concerns of library budget planning and management and overseeing library services.
When many people hear "library" they think of books, the stacks and being quiet. The concept behind Marietta's new library is more dynamic than this. Can you explain what is going to make the new library special?
First of all, there will still be quiet study space in the new library. We will provide comfortable and appealing spaces for students to study individually and in groups. And these spaces will be tailored specifically to the needs of today’s students. But libraries today also are active spaces. The Cyber-Café and the Information Commons are emblematic of the fact that modern libraries are as much social spaces as they are study spaces. We will provide a variety of types of spaces in the new building to make it relevant to all the needs that contemporary libraries must address.
Any final thoughts or comments on anything we haven't talked about?
This will be an exciting and challenging period as we plan and build this new library. In the end, what we will have is a new facility that will transform the teaching and learning that is the heart of Marietta College.
Tom Perry, Director of College Relations at Marietta, conducted this interview.