A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to make a presentation to President’s Council about our University Library. To those of you helped with content for the PowerPoint slides – thank you very much.  President’s Council meets once a month or so, and often includes short presentations from various campus units. I was delighted to be invited to present. My plan was to remind Council members about the services and collections we provide, tell them about some of our newer initiatives underway, and finally – for everyone there to recognize the important contributions we in the University Library make to learning and research and that we want to collaborate with them to increase our contributions in these areas.  Message received!  It turns out that just about everyone wants to talk with us.  OK, I’m exaggerating a bit, but over the past few weeks several campus leaders have contacted us with ideas for collaborating.  Not all of these ideas will develop but others should lead to tangible ways for us to make even more contributions to student success at Iowa State. There are two collaborations coming soon to which I want to alert you.

First, the ITS Solution Center, where ISU students, staff, and faculty go for technology support, will move from Durham into Parks Library later this semester.  The exact location is still being determined but it will be somewhere on the Parks first floor, in close proximity to the stand-up computers, printers, and our main service desk.  Solution Center staff will continue to provide help with software, networking, and other IT service issues as they do now and will also assist with the technology-related support that our library users sometimes need, including printing and scanning assistance, etc.  This is a great way for the Library and ITS to collaborate, but even more importantly it offers convenient access to technical expertise for campus.

Dead and Finals Week. We will try an experiment this semester: Parks Library will pilot being open 24/7 during dead week and finals week.  On Sunday, April 24th we’ll open at our usual time, 12:30 p.m., and we will stay open until 5p.m. on Friday, May 6th.  This extra service is something libraries at some other universities have successfully provided in recent years, and apparently this is something that ISU students have asked for off-and-on.  Since I’d been thinking about it anyway, when I saw the student government campaign poster listing 24/7 access as a platform issue for one of the candidates I decided it was the time to seriously consider the idea and discuss it with Administrative Cabinet. And Admin Cabinet has agreed to give it a try.

There are many, many details still to work out, including investigating CyRide schedules, communicating with other units such as campus police, not to mention scheduling.  For this to be a successful project, we’ll need an adult employee here around the clock for those 13 days.  Please be thinking how you might participate: maybe sign up to staff a night shift or two (I’m planning to), take an extra daytime desk shift or chat session for a colleague who flexes their schedule to work an evening shift, or be flexible about rescheduling a regular meeting for a co-worker who has changed their schedule. There are many ways for each of us, throughout the Library, to contribute.  I am confident we can work together to pull this off and that ISU students will appreciate this contribution to their academic success.  More information about this will follow.

Up next:  Next Tuesday, the Library is sponsoring the final game of the ISU’s Women’s basketball season.  We play West Virginia University and their library dean, Dr. Jon Cawthorne, will visit campus that day to join me at the game for a bit of friendly library/basketball rivalry.  In addition to coming to the game, Dr. Cawthorne will make a presentation at 1:30 on Tuesday. Please check CyPoint for details about his presentation. The game sponsorship gives us another way to support Iowa State students plus provides an outreach opportunity to our area library colleagues – we have invited guests from academic and public libraries around the state to visit campus, tour Parks and go to the game.

Seeking creative ideas:  Another interesting developing partnership is with the Office of the Vice President for Research, for a research lecture series co-sponsored by the University Library and VPR.  We are still in the early discussion stages and need some creative thinkers to assist. Please send me your creative ideas for names for the lecture series – something that will draw faculty in and connect the Library to research.

Please be in touch if you have any questions, suggestions, or comments.


Looking out my window


I have a list of things I do regularly. First thing in the morning I check http://www.bbc.com, Inside Higher Ed, and my Instagram account. Then I check e-mail. When there’s time I might look at Facebook and Twitter, but that’s usually delayed until evening. Early morning and late evenings I take a walk with our dog, Brody. Themed meals (most popular right now-Tuesday Taco Bar…apparently making your own plate is a big deal for 7-year olds) and Friday game nights (ping pong and foosball) are pretty regular occurrences with my family. On Fridays I try to clean out my email accounts, both work and personal accounts. And, on Saturdays I usually call my folks. The list goes on.

So, when a friend here on campus suggested I try my hand at blogging as a way to connect with Library staff and faculty, I thought, sure, I should add that to my routine. But can and should are two very different things. I sat on this suggestion for a couple of months but have now decided I’m going to give this a try and see how it works. My intent is to provide a weekly update, and for the words I write here to be mostly business, some personal, and I am hopeful, to be of interest.

My first installment includes three pieces of information that I think will be of interest to library staff and faculty. One is donor related. One is holiday schedule related. One is space related.

Donors. After research and experimentation, a Gift button has been added to the navigation bar on the Library website. When site visitors are so inclined, we want giving to be really obvious and really easy. So far, reviews of the Gift button are positive, and it has been utilized. We’ve received at least two gifts in the few days it has been active. All the colleges on campus present a straightforward path for donating via their websites. We researched how Gift links are presented on various library websites, too. The most effective ones are conspicuously placed at the top.

Holiday/Semester break. In an effort to best serve our many constituencies, faculty, staff, and the campus community, Parks Library will not close over the holidays in 2016/17. Parks will remain open, most likely with reduced hours, and with limited services. Details on how we’ll do this are still being worked on, but I wanted to make you aware of it for semester-end/holiday planning.

Last but not least, library space. You’ve probably noticed that Parks Library is pretty crowded with students most days. I think this is wonderful and a good sign that we’re providing a welcoming, supportive research and study environment for our students. And, to continue to do so, we will soon begin a formal space study of the University Library. This space study will focus mostly on Parks, but will also include the Design Reading Room, Veterinary Medicine Library and the Library Storage Building. Discussions are just beginning with FP&M’s Margie Tabor and the University architects Dan Sloan and Dan Nutini and they will guide us on the next steps. We will all have opportunities to be involved and engaged in this major project and I’m counting on your creative ideas.

Stay tuned for more on the above and please let me know if you have any questions.


Snow scene from 302 Parks Library: “I love ISU.” I do, too!


You can follow me on Twitter @bethmcneil