Building Connections

For some time, speakers on the library circuit have told us that librarians need to “build connections, not collections” as an essential component of the future of libraries. By this, they mean that our future in an age of digital collections and Google-centered information seeking will be found in the services we provide and the connections we facilitate among our users to position the library as a community center and a platform for innovation. While we continue to build collections at the DePaul University Library, both physical and digital, our commitment over the past 5 years has been to building connections, facilitating partnerships supporting teaching, learning, and scholarship, and ensuring that library spaces and services remain at the heart of strategic initiatives such as student success and interdisciplinary teaching and scholarship across the university. Community engagement, with special attention to students and faculty, has re-shaped the DePaul University Library since 2013, as seen, especially, in decisions made regarding library renovation.

The second phase of the renovation, completed in 2013, included the establishment of a university-wide hub for peer-centered student success programs in the Learning Commons. With a shifting array of partners including the Writing Center, Career Center, Office of Multicultural Student Success, Supplemental Instruction, Coleman Entrepreneurship Center, and others, the Learning Commons was a key feature of the university’s “Foundations for Success” program presented as part of our re-accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools’ Higher Learning Commission. Since its launch in 2013, the number of appointments recorded by Learning Commons programs has increased by 156%, and this growth parallels growing numbers of visitors to the library and growing use of core library services such as research consultations and information literacy instruction. Through the Learning Commons and other programs, the library has become an essential component of the DePaul commitment to supporting student learning in the classroom and beyond.

The third phase of the renovation, completed this year, included not only new technology supporting student work in media creation, data visualization, and more, but also new (or enhanced) spaces for partners in faculty development such as Studio CHI and Faculty Instructional Technology Services (FITS). Continuing efforts to engage faculty with library spaces when so much content is available online that began with the launch of the Scholar’s Lab and the creation of ongoing library exhibits of faculty scholarly and creative work are at the center of these new spaces, which, as Roshanna Sylvester, Director of Studio CHI, noted, “offer wonderful new possibilities for faculty engagement and exchange.” Joining university-wide networks facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration such as the Cross-College Collaboration Task Force and the “DePaul maker” community, the library has become an essential component of the DePaul commitment to faculty development and support for innovative teaching and scholarship.

As those who attended the opening reception for the newly-renovated library space heard President Esteban, say, “Over the last several years, DePaul’s faculty and staff from across the university have collaborated to design and build a state-of-the-art library. Each phase of the renovation has delivered improved learning support for our students, as well as innovative research tools for our faculty and staff.” If you would like to know more about how you and your students can employ new library spaces and services in support of your work, please contact your liaison librarian.

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