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This week, Fresh@News has interviewed Mr. Joseph Lucia, Director of Falvey Library.
Fresh@News: How do first year students feel about the library?
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 unimportant to them because they grew up in a digital world that makes the library’s bookish heritage seem irrelevant to current learning and study needs. A good contemporary academic library functions as a setting for group study, a collaborative environment for interacting around computers, a place to connect with complex digital resources while receiving instructional assistance from a librarian, and a venue for a broad mix of cultural and intellectual events (lecture, readings, discussions, debates, exhibits, book signings, receptions). We provide students with a lively & diverse learning environment.
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: A lot of students, but especially freshman students, are anxious about admitting they don’t understand what an academic library can offer them. Our goal is to make them comfortable when they are afraid of asking. It’s easy for students to think they’ve found all the information needed for their assignments through doing a Google search, but that's not always the best or most reliable source. We are here to provide support and assistance to make sure they have the best possible information available to them. This library spends several million dollars annually for licensed content of that caliber – and that’s what the freshman need to learn to find and use in their course work.
Fresh@News: What are freshman students coming to the library for?
Joseph Lucia: Students visit the library for a number of reasons. They come to study, both individually and to meet in the group study rooms. They come for quick access to email if they don’t have their laptop with them or they borrow one of our laptops and use the wireless network to sit on a couch and write, browse the Web, view Facebook, and other similar tasks. They come for assistance with class assignments. In general, freshman 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 future.
Fresh@News: Given the amount of resources available in the library, do students receive any formal training on what’s available?
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: What is happening at the library this year?
Joseph Lucia: We are continuously working to better connect the library to academic departments & curricula. In addition, the library is a key partner in the sponsorship of One Book Villanova, and we have a number of events planned around Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji. We are working very hard to make the library a center for intellectual and cultural exchange, almost a civic center for campus life. And we are drawing more and more students into that through events involving students as presenters, such as poetry readings, panel discussions, and even debates. We feature the “Falvey Scholars” awards in the spring. These are presentations by students who have demonstrated excellence in undergraduate research.
Fresh@News: What services are available on the library web site?
Joseph Lucia: Our library Website (http://library.villanova.edu) was developed through a careful study of student information-seeking activities. It’s a beautifully designed site that provides a locally-developed “open source” search interface incorporating a lot of Web 2.0 features – tagging, favorite lists, comments & book reviews, texting of search results to cell phones – as well as some really nice browsing functions. It includes a research help system that enables students to ask and answer each other’s research questions while also getting assistance from librarians, comprehensive research guides for almost all of our academic disciplines, and it includes current news about things going on in the library.
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, the Falvey Print Center came online to offer more sophisticated services – color printing, binding, poster printing, etc.
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: 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?
Fresh@News: You’ve been at Villanova seven years now. 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 naïve assumption of the first “dot com boom” 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 educational role and the ways the library can be a partner in student learning. And because of Villanova’s special character as a diverse medium-sized university with a strong funding-base for the library, we are seizing the opportunity to make our library a leading model of the best things a contemporary library should be.
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