The year 2009 has been witness to a number of anniversaries, some milestones in U.S. history and others of more global significance: the 200th anniversaries of the births of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin, the 40th anniversary of the Moon Landing, the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street, the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first telescope, the 50th anniversaries of statehood for Alaska and Hawaii, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leo Fender (of Fender guitar fame), the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NAACP, the 65th anniversary of D-Day, the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square, and the 500th birthday of Henry VIII.
There was also the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, and this particular anniversary has served as the inaugural event of a new "Reading" series the Library has created in cooperation with the Department of Language and Literature. On the evening of October 26, in the atrium of the Library, students, faculty and staff were invited to participate in a reading of Mr. Poe's work. Poe was actually born in January, but somehow it seemed appropriate to hold the Reading during the week of Halloween when the Library is suitably decked out (Poe did die in October). The event was well attended and met with enough enthusiasm (we're sure the "Happy Birthday Mr. Poe" cake helped … food always makes things better) that the Library has suggested making an annual (or perhaps biannual) event of this cooperation between the Library and the English department, and to design the evening around the concept of the historical Salon, a gathering of intellectuals to discuss literary and artistic works and ideas. Details are still being fleshed out, but we think this will be a wonderful addition to the cultural life of the campus.
This fall the Library co-sponsored another event, this one with the Office of Academic Affairs, that was the first Dean's Colloquy, a new lecture series where faculty are invited to prepare and present short talks on a chosen contemporary topic, followed by what is hoped to be lively Q&A sessions with members of the campus community (especially students). This fall's Colloquy topic was the First Amendment and free speech and drew upon three autumn national events: U.S. Constitution Day, Banned Books Week, and the September Project (formerly called the September 11 Project).
A traditional service that has been provided for decades by libraries of all types and sizes has been the "pathfinder" - printed guides to resources in a particular library's collections on narrowly defined topics (such as 19th century English literature) or at times on more broadly defined topics (such as biology). These guides have been used to help library users, whether they be students, faculty or the general public, locate quality resources on topics of interest. Today, the traditional pathfinder has met the 21st century through LibGuides, a new software that allows libraries to create electronic versions of the traditional pathfinder, and create them with a lot of bells and whistles. The range of LibGuides is limited only by the needs of library users and the imaginations of librarians.
This past summer our library began using the LibGuide software and we created our first guides to support the First-Year Experience (FYEx) course that all first-year students must take. The book used this fall in FYEx was Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, and a LibGuide on the Vietnam Era was created to support the study of this book. In the latter part of the semester, the focus of FYEx was directed toward advertising and consumerism, and students were required to do an oral presentation on a topic that fell within these broad areas. A second LibGuide was created to assist students in locating appropriate resources for their presentation. The Library also conducted instruction sessions for students (and faculty) on LibGuides - what they are and how they can be used.
You can find our library's LibGuides by checking the Library's web site (http://library.huntingdon.edu). Access is not restricted to Huntingdon students, faculty and staff (though access to some resources listed in the Guides may be). Here you will not only find the Vietnam Era and Advertising/Consumerism guides but also two additional that were created this fall: one on gothic literature and a fourth on Halloween (which was very broadly defined and compiled to include research-level resources on such topics as Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Day of the Dead, with an added "page" on Kathryn Tucker Windham). The LibGuide software allows for the embedding of photographs, video and audio clips (so, for example, on the Kathryn Tucker Windham page you will find a link to a YouTube video where Mrs. Windham is discussing the Alabama Ghost Trail), which makes the Guides a multi-media resource.
In preparation for the spring, library faculty are working on several new LibGuides - two for upcoming literature courses on Milton and literature of the American South, one on critical thinking to support a newly proposed first-year course for fall 2010, and one on the Civil War and Reconstruction to support an upper-level history course to be taught.
The week of Halloween, Huntingdon was visited by a twelve-to-fifteen member team representing the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools - it was time once again for the College to apply for reaffirmation of its regional accreditation. The last such review was in 1999-2000, and this latest was Huntingdon's first experience with the change in criteria that was made after its last reaffirmation. Back in March, the College submitted a report to an off-site review team making its initial case for reaffirmation. The off-site team's findings were then used do determine the make-up of the team that visited the campus this fall. Two of the main elements of the reaffirmation process are assessment (the process by which an institution sets and measures the accomplishment of its goals) and the QEP -- the Quality Enhancement Program -- which is a program each institution must develop that identifies an area it wants to improve upon. Huntingdon's QEP is a new critical thinking program for students, anchored by a new required theme-based course (currently shaping up to look similar to the former Liberal Arts Symposium, for which Huntingdon received a commendation from SACS in 2000).
For the Library, the good news in the current reaffirmation process was that no librarian was part of the October on-site team, meaning that there were no significant concerns held by SACS on the state of our library. For the spring off-site review, the College's report had to include a section on the Library, and the review team made a particular point of complimenting the Library on the job we had done on assessment. The report that came out of the off-site review was not without some questions/concerns related to the Library (such as a vacancy in a professional-level position, the continuing challenge of the building's climate control, and how library instruction is being provided to students in the College's accelerated-degree completion program around the state), but reviewers seemed overall pleased with the direction in which the Library is headed.