"I had used computers a little bit before, but I was originally a member of the Mathematics department," he said. As he made his transition to his position as the new head of the "computer center," as it was then known, the Math department kept Smallen's old post open for three years, in case
The department that would become Information Technology was housed in
"By being in the library from the start, IT and the library were always very familiar with each other," Smallen said.
The new combination of Libraries and Information Technology is consequently a very natural fit--the two departments had always shared space, but they increasingly share a common purpose as well: to provide students with access to knowledge. Libraries, according to Smallen, have transitioned from a place that information exists to points of access.
"It used to be that the only way to have access to something was to own it," he said, "but now the focus is less on collecting and more on providing."
As a result, Smallen plans to focus on giving
The usage of the physical library building, then, must also evolve, as it is no longer simply a place to store books. Smallen foresees the library as an "academic commons," a place where students can come to "share a sense of energy that comes from people doing common work." It is this sense of community that Smallen feels is
To expand the sense of community, Smallen is considering integrating other student services in the library. He has proposed opening up an "outpost" of the Nesbitt-Johnson Writing Center or the Oral Communication Center in the library to give students more convenient access to these academic resources as well. This would conceivably allow a student to stay in the library for the entire process of writing a paper or a presentation--from initial research to the finishing touches.
"We're preparing students to use information, create knowledge, and make decisions," Smallen said. "We'd like to help
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