Algoma U 'weeding them out' (6 photos)Sunday, October 28, 2012 by: Darren Taylor
They’re “weeding them out” at Algoma University’s Arthur A. Wishart Library.
Those “weeds” are tons of old periodicals that have been permanently removed from the facility.
That, explained University Librarian Ken Hernden to SooToday.com, not only makes sense in our online world, but has freed up space, replacing the old shelves with new, comfortable seating for students who want to research and learn in a more relaxing environment.
Hernden said, “I have no exact number, but I would say we weeded on the order of thousands of issues.”
“You used to have a wall of books in front of you when you walked in, with people pushed off to the side. ... Now we have a people-centred library, with lots of material accessible in a wireless environment, and we have the space to support that kind of learning in an engaging environment, while having more access to more material than ever before due to online technology.”
Hernden studied library information science at Western University and worked at York University and the North Bay Public Library before joining the Algoma team in 2006.
His official title is “university librarian” and works with Public Services Librarian Michelle Atkin, Systems Librarian Robin Isard and other staff at the evolving Wishart Library.
He continued, “We’re now able to access 100,000 journal titles online through our partnerships with the other Ontario university libraries, and we have 450,000 books online, four times more than actual physical books we have available.”
“More than one student or staff member at a time can access them, as opposed to the old circulation system.”
Becoming an independent university has been of enormous benefit to the Wishart Library, Hernden emphasized.
“We started off as Algoma University College, an affiliate of Laurentian University in Sudbury. A lot of what was in the library was donated, we were lucky to have what we had, especially in tough financial times.”
Hernden explained that as an independent Algoma University, the Wishart Library “is an equal on the provincial and national library scene, we have a vote, we have a say with organizations like the Ontario Council of University Libraries.”
“Now we’re able to pick what we need as opposed to taking whatever Laurentian had.”
The decision to weed out thousands of periodicals and get rid of a lot of traditional library shelving on the library’s main floor, Hernden says, arose not only out the availability of more online material, but a growth in Algoma’s student population.
“The library had three floors, but now we have more students than ever before. The first floor has classroom space, not as much space for people to sit. So we weeded out those periodicals and the shelves on the main floor and buy comfortable furniture for students to work from.”
“Might as well be comfortable, since we’re open until 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday from September to April.”
Hernden says along with the benefits of having a library in a newly-independent Algoma University, there are challenges.
“The library staff has to wear many hats. We’re short-staffed,” he said, but added busy is good.
Hernden wants the community to know the public is welcome at the Wishart Library.
“In fact, we have large numbers of high school students we give library instruction to.”
A registered reader card, he said, costs $20 a year.
“By all means if you come in, you can access all the same periodicals, tons of research for local entrepreneurs who want to get profiles of various businesses, GIS tools available, lots or research material available in many subject areas.”
Hernden stated, “We want people to see this is real university library that runs the full slate of resources you would expect to see at a larger university, but in a cozier and friendly space.”