As such, libraries like Curry are compelled to evolve with new technology and innovations or risk falling behind. There is not a terminus with such evolution, of which Rebecca Hamlett, the Director of Library Services, makes note. Curry has been in the game since well before Jewellverse, and it will have to continue this effort into the future.
“Ensuring that Curry Library remains on the forefront of technology and information services provided to our Jewell community has always been a priority, even prior to Jewellverse,” said Hamlett. “Curry Library was one of the first libraries in our area to move from a card catalog to a digital catalog in the 1990s, to provide an aggregated database search service, to make resources available off-campus and to implement the newest technology of Discovery Services. Technology as a tool has, in fact, served to facilitate the work of Curry Library Services and our librarians in ways that were not previously available. Our college library, throughout its history, has always been on the forefront of cutting edge services thanks to the dedication of our staff and the support of the institution.”
Chris Vaughn, Library Support Specialist, talks specifically about what changes Curry is pursuing.
“We are currently reviewing our discovery services and thinking of switching from Summon to EBSCO Discovery services,” Vaughan said. “Searching for and finding the most relevant information is crucial to academic success. In this time of ‘fake news’ and ‘meme facts’ it is vital that we provide information that is reliable, authoritative and easy to find. We are confident that at the end of this process we will have a discovery service that is the best for our students needs.”
Access to information is key for a college library to perfect. This year, Curry is focusing to improve on databases.
“At the start of this semester we upgraded our eJournals portal with several new search features and easier linking to articles,” Vaughan said. “We also launched our Gale Databases page with five new databases full of articles and books that are perfect for any kind of research need. We are currently in the process of developing online research guides that we believe will be a very valuable resource to our students. We will be able to use these guides to point out the very best of our book and journal collections, highlight key databases and store useful files for different disciplines from the faculty.”
Even so, Curry Library houses thousands of printed materials. In an era in which digital information is privileged over print, it is often difficult to find a space for these materials. But Curry is not giving up hope on maintaining their printed selection yet.
“The ‘stacks’ and paper books are absolutely still a priority, but many of the changes we are making on the Curry side of the library involve streamlining behind-the-scenes processes like collection development and catalog maintenance, so it might not seem like much is changing until we get those processes up and running,” Abigail Broadbent, the Archives and Technical Services Librarian, said. “We are planning a few improvement projects to make the stacks a more comfortable and inviting workspace, and to improve the general user experience. I think a lot of students have not been able to appreciate the scope and quality of our print collection because they find the environment on that floor intimidating and confusing, and generally off-putting, so I am focusing a lot of my efforts on making that space more accessible.”
But how does Curry “stack up” to other institutions and the ways in which they are adapting to the ever-changing library scene?
“Just from talking to our peers around the state, I feel like we are doing a lot of innovative things that they are trying to replicate, but I do envy campus-wide information literacy programs that a few other schools have been able to implement, and I know that’s something that will continue to be important for us in the coming years,” Broadbent said.
Other libraries are indeed looking at Curry and what the College is doing to push the library into a technologically advanced service. Broadbent talks specifically about the library’s accomplishments.
“Chris Vaughn presented at state-wide and national conferences about the Pryor Learning Commons, and he has done at least 50 tours for librarians looking for inspiration as they remake their own spaces, and one of the presenters at the Brick and Click library conference we attended in November specifically mentioned the PLC as the inspiration for the innovations made in their facility,” Broadbent said. “We have a lot of technology to check out, like cameras and DVDs, our check-out period is a semester long, both of our facilities are open 24/7, and we have a self-checkout machine, all things a lot of libraries would love to be able to offer their patrons, but they either do not have the funding or the support to do so. The fact that our students all have at least one available method to read and use E-books is also something that a lot of libraries would really appreciate, because it ensures that all of our patrons can access those holdings.”
Librarians are thus no longer the old bespectacled women who shush their patrons. Instead, they are trained innovators who are constantly finding new ways to incorporate technology into responsible library services.
“I enjoy being a librarian in this ‘digital-heavy’ age because the daily challenges of integrating our digital and traditional services make this field full of creative, passionate and service-focused individuals who are really committed to translating the basic tenets of librarianship into modern practice,” Broadbent said. “I experienced the seismic shifts that Curry has gone through in my time at Jewell, and they were what sparked my desire to jump in to this career with both feet.”