[Fresh] Interview with Falvey Library Director

Kelly Donio (kelly.donio@villanova.edu)
Tue, 30 Nov 2004 08:54:23 -0500

Interview with Joseph Lucia, Director of Falvey Library

Fresh@News: How do first year students feel about the
Joseph Lucia: I hope freshman students see the library as a
welcoming and inviting place to socialize, interact and
explore intellectually. My concern is that they not assume
that the library is irrelevant because they grew up with the
different technology capabilities. An academic library is a
different kind of place than any other library. Our library
is as much about connecting with digital resources as
interacting with a librarian.

Fresh@News: Often, freshman students report that the library
is overwhelming and intimidating. What can we do to help
relieve some of these anxieties?
Joseph Lucia: Freshman students are intimidated or
embarrassed by what they are afraid they don’t know. They
are often anxious about approaching a librarian to ask for
assistance. Students would rather find things on their own
than admit that they don’t know where to find it. Our goal
is to make them comfortable when they are afraid of asking.
It’s easy for students to think they’ve found what they
need. For example, when you do a Google search on the
internet, you get something. It’s not always the best
thing. We need to collaborate more with faculty to find
ways to help freshman learn more about what actually is
available through other sources. Much of it is available on
the web, but not where they go to find it.

Fresh@News: What are freshman students coming to the library
Joseph Lucia: Students visit the library for a number of
reasons. They come to study, both individually and to meet
groups. Often, students use the group study rooms
available. They come for quick access to email if they
don’t have laptops. They come for assistance with class
assignments. In general, freshmen are not in a lot of
research oriented classes, which require frequent visits for
research. I would say that they are more casual users of
the library. With that in mind, our mission is to make them
feel comfortable from the start, so they will see the
library as a place to come when they need assistance in the

Fresh@News: Is there anything new happening at the library
this year?
Joseph Lucia: The newest change is a significant renovation
of the first floor over this past summer. The first floor is
our primary personal service environment. We’ve made the
entire floor more welcoming by opening it up visually from
front to back, providing a sense of “flow” throughout. We
also moved and expanded our coffee shop, which is now
located within a large, comfortable new study lounge. We’re
also able to provide a 24/7 study facility in that area, by
allowing after-hours access through an ID card reader at a
newly-installed exterior door.

The newly-renovated main floor is the first thing the
students see when they come in the building. Our goal was
to make the library a more active, inviting, and vibrant
learning environment with first-rate library services, and I
think we’ve succeeded in that.

Fresh@News: Have there been any other changes beside the
Joseph Lucia: There have also been some significant
technology enhancements. We’ve brought up a new information
access tool called “federated searching” that lets students
find information in high-quality academic databases using a
simple query box that behaves like the Google interface.
Our website was completely redesigned over the past year.
We’ve embedded a lot of library resources in the “course
management” software (WebCT) that students access for
assignments and other activities in many classes. And we’ve
begun to provide “loaner” laptops for use in the library.
These can be charged out and taken to any location in the
building, which has wirelss network access throughout.

Fresh@News: Once you have the students in the door, how do
you help them understand how to use the library?
Joseph Lucia: Well, to be honest, we don’t always have to
“get them in the door.” The library website is just as much
a part of the library as the building itself is. Given the
nature of technology, we are able to reach out to students
in a number of ways. We’re open and receptive to their
needs. The website offers a large number of learning and
research resources.

What services are available on the library web site?
Joseph Lucia: All of the library’s digital resources are
available, including databases, research aids, full texts of
e-journals, e-books, and reference sources, course reserves,
online reference assistance, and services to directly borrow
resources from other libraries. In addition, students can
get research assistance online by subject. We’ve developed
online tutorials that are available on demand by any user.
Guide to common request such as: How to find a journal? How
to access a database? How to do a database search? How to
get the journal articles not available at Villanova? We see
the web as a personalized full service environment.

There are, of course, still many important print materials
that you can’t get on the website and that require students
to come into the building. For the most part though, the
website is one source that is as complete as we can make
it. Students can access it from their room or any building
on campus, 24 hours a day, 7 seven days a week.

Fresh@News: Given the amount of resources available in the
library, do students have any formal training on what’s
Joseph Lucia: Many faculty who teach entry level courses
for freshmen bring students in to learn about the basic
research tools in their fields. It doesn’t have to always
be in the library. Often librarians come to their classes
and teach students about the resources available.

Fresh@News: You talked a lot about the internet and how
students use it for research. Aren't many of our students
already familiar with the web?
Joseph Lucia: Yes. Students are very familiar with the
web. Students think they know more than they do. What they
don’t understand is that information on the web comes that
comes from different channels and varies in how it’s
produced and authenticated. Students are very familiar with
doing searches on the web, but don’t have a picture of what
piece of the web information that represents. The library
offers many scholarly resources that are not available on
the open web. It’s considered proprietary and there is a
fee attached. The library pays for it and makes it
available to the larger community. These resources have
been authenticated.

Fresh@News: What advice would you give to parents? How they
can be helpful?
Joseph Lucia: Most parents will do this anyway. Talk to
your children about what they are learning and doing here.
Ask them if they have ever used the library. If they say
no, ask them why not? Our parents tend to be very involved
with students.

Fresh@News: You’re relatively new to Villanova. How do you
like being the Director of the Library?
Joseph Lucia: I love it. It’s full of challenges and new
things form one day to the next. This is an exciting time to
be in academic library. Living through a revolution of how
libraries carry out their mission and deliver services.
We’ve gotten past the naďve assumption in the mid 90’s that
libraries were going to wither away and everything was going
to be available online. We’re able to focuses more clearly
on the library’s education role and the ways the library can
be a partner in student learning.

For more information, please visit the library’s web site at

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