Watercolor by NJCU Illustration Professor Dennis Dittrich

Librarians and libraries have always been at the forefront in looking for ways to improve the educational experience for our students. We tend to be proactive in securing the latest services and products that will enhance our students’ abilities to succeed in their academic careers—as well as empower them to exist in a digital world where “fake news” is now the new normal.

As new resources roll out, libraries investigate and test their strengths and weaknesses; we are not willing to expend our limited funds on products that have little or no intrinsic merit. We run exhaustive trials and simulations of new tools before choosing them as necessary supports for our users.

A visit to the Congressman Frank J. Guarini Library reveals the scope and depth of the resources available—not just in the electronic realm, but also in a very real physical sense. The configuration of the NJCU library is reflective of a transformative shift in the philosophy of Library service; the Library now serves as a “third space”—a concept that recognizes that learning experiences and styles have evolved from a solitary academic endeavor to a more collaborative environment. To foster this new emphasis on group learning and social engagement, our librarians moved the first-floor reference department and bibliographic instruction classroom to the second floor, allowing the first floor to be repurposed to house a Dunkin’ Donuts, The Hub (a centralized tutoring center), a writing center, and a Library Commons. In addition, a “forum” space was created on the fourth floor where faculty retreats, poetry readings, book talks, and musical programs are often held. Plans continue to develop with regard to the creation of an archive for University-related material.

Other changes have been made to better accommodate the wants of our students, many of whom now live on campus. Phone chargers can be found on the second floor. Our extensive DVD collection is available for borrowing. We have increased our graphic novel collection. Our highly-used Curriculum Materials Center now has many items available for borrowing as well.

We have also added a number of online resources:

We have acquired over 150,000 ebooks—mainly in our Academic Collection—which can be read online or downloaded to a portable device. The collection also allows simultaneous reading by an entire class so no one is ever “closed out” of a volume from this resource.

We have online access to major New Jersey newspapers.

We acquired JSTOR and Project Muse—online databases of peer reviewed academic journals and electronic books.

Students no longer have to come into the library to renew books or request an interlibrary loan (ILL); this now can be done online. We even have reciprocal borrowing agreements with selected libraries that allow students to walk into other libraries to borrow books without having to wait for an ILL delivery to NJCU’s campus.

We have acquired RefWorks, an essential bibliographic software management tool that stores citations (and their links to full text items) and allows automatic conversion into one of many citation styles available.

We have Summon, a tool that allows simultaneous searching of multiple databases with a single command.

And we have taken advantage of social media by running a library blog and a Facebook page.

Librarians possess many skills and talents; however, we are not mind readers. If there are services/products that are deemed valuable, please let us know. If we have funds, we will certainly keep your wishes in mind.

We are here to help you succeed.

 

Fred Smith is Director of Library Services at the Congressman Frank J. Guarini Library. He has been employed in various positions in the library for more than 30 years. In addition to his memberships/activities in such diverse organizations as the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the Red Dragon Society, he holds memberships in the Park History Honor Society and Beta Phi Mu (library science honor society). He has a master’s degree in medieval history from New York University and a master’s degree in library service from Columbia University.