Weinberg Memorial Library Stays Ahead of the Curve
In most cases, an anniversary celebration is a time to look back at the achievements of the past. But, for the 20th anniversary of The University of Scranton’s Weinberg Memorial Library, it is look ahead, to future that anticipates and satisfies the demands of our students, faculty, staff and surrounding community.
When the Weinberg Memorial Library opened in 1992, it represented the largest single-purpose fundraising project in the University’s history – costing $13.3 million. An overview of the Weinberg Memorial Library’s collection and programs is evidence that it has achieved its mission: “to provide superior resources, services and programs that meet the dynamic scholarship, cultural and social endeavors of the University and of the community at large.”
For starters, the 80,000-square-foot, five-story building includes a total of 514,915 volumes (405,128 in print and 109,787 on microfilm); 41,927 print and full-text online journals; and 17,498 non-print media items, as well as access to 89,000 full-text books online and 150 online databases.
“During the planning stage, we asked students what they wanted in the new Library,” said Charles E. Kratz, dean of the Library and Information Fluency. “This was the early 1990s, before the explosion of technology, and their overwhelming response was ample quiet study space.”
The Pro Deo Room, located on the first floor of the Weinberg Memorial Library, is a 24-hour study room that includes a computer lab. The Library recently added another 24-hour study space. The Scranton Heritage Room, a reading room on the fifth floor, is rich in local history and often hosts exhibits.
“Ten years ago, we responded to our students’ preference by installing the Java City coffee bar to the Pro Deo Room,” said Kratz. “Now, also driven by student demand, we’re looking into renovating the building to expand spaces that facilitate collaborative study.”
“The Library is the perfect place to read, relax and do schoolwork, both privately and on group projects,” said Camille Reinecke, a junior from Dunmore.
On the subject of collaboration, library staff is committed to supporting faculty in their research, as well as helping our students get the most from their classes. The Weinberg Memorial Library faculty and staff provide information literacy for introductory classes and library resource guidance for upper-level courses, as well as research assistance for senior projects. Students can “Ask a Librarian” for assistance via email, instant messaging, text messaging or a 24/7 chat reference service.
Continually on the cutting edge of technology, the Weinberg Memorial Library offers 83 internet workstations, including 46 computers available 24/7. The Library provides wireless connection to the internet for students with laptop computers, as well as 15 laptops for checkout. In an effort to keep students and faculty up to date on emerging technologies, the Library recently began loaning tablet computers for 24-hour periods.
“We’re always seeking ways to help students understand and evaluate the many tools and applications that are available,” said Professor Kristin Yarmey, digital services librarian. “For example, Google is used extensively, but when it comes to scholarly work, students need to know that only 10 percent of the internet is searchable. And when it comes to social media like Facebook, how trustworthy the source is. That’s what we mean by ‘information fluency.’”
With an eye to the future, the Weinberg Memorial Library has not lost sight of the past. The University Archives contain yearbooks, student newspapers, institutional records, photos, scrapbooks and other materials dating back to the 1880s. The Library’s Special Collections preserves and provides access to important documents, publications, photographs and books (some one of a kind) from outside the University. “Our students can see Medieval manuscripts and rare books, for example, more closely than at a museum,” said Professor Michael Knies, special collections librarian. “Having these materials permanently is a rare phenomenon at universities in the U.S.”
Currently the Library is in the process of digitizing its University Archives and Special Collections. These can be viewed at www.scranton.edu/library/digitalcollections.
The Weinberg Memorial Library formed a Green Team in 2010 to cultivate sustainable practices, which currently include color-coded recycling bins, a water bottle-filling station, energy-saving motion sensors, more efficient lighting and encouraging students to limit their printing or to print on both sides of a sheet of paper.
“It’s very gratifying to know that with the many societal changes we’ve witnessed over the past two decades, the Library continues to serve The University of Scranton so well,” said Kratz. “Without the support of our administration and the dedication and expertise of our staff, we couldn’t make that claim.”