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Milner Lectureship

Keeping pace with a shifting paradigm

Libraries are changing, not dying.

That was the topic for this year’s Bryant Jackson Lectureship, an annual event at Milner Library that drew librarians from nearby states. The lectureship was endowed in 2003 by former university librarian Joe Kraus. He established the event and fund to honor his associate university librarian, Bryant Jackson, who served the campus for more than 26 years.

The annual event is just one learning activity beyond the classroom that is made possible because of private support. Numerous lectureships and external speakers are able to provide varying perspectives on cultural and learning issues throughout the academic year because of donor support.

The Bryant Jackson Lecturship consistently features prominent speakers and scholars in the field of library and information science. Its initial reach was the library staff and university community but that’s grown to include professional development for librarians in Illinois and beyond.

Joan Lippincott sitting on deck in front of laptop

Joan Lippincott

Joan Lippincott from the Coalition of Networked Information in Washington, D.C., spoke last spring about the changing nature of library partnerships in teaching, learning, and research during the lecture titled “Summit on Changing Academic Libraries.” Participants shared the challenges libraries have and brainstormed solutions, said Magdalena Casper-Shipp, Milner’s public relations librarian.

Since its opening in 1890, Milner Library has been the heart and soul of academic endeavors across campus. The library of yesteryear, however, no longer exists. The days of book stacks and silent study hours are gone. The facility today offers innovative, high-tech spaces and support services reflective of learning and teaching in the 21st century.

“A lot more students are coming to use the library as a space rather than for shelves of books,” she said. “We are focusing on what students want and maybe that’s a 3D printer, which you might need to do a project but don’t have in your residence hall. Students use the library the same way professors use their offices. We’re not dying. We’re going to be way more interesting.”

Librarians are also meeting students where they are rather than waiting for them to walk in the door. Sue Franzen attended the lecture and endorses the concept of “imbedded” librarians. She’s already moving in that direction. The health sciences librarian has office hours in the Mennonite College of Nursing.

“Instead of students coming to the library and hunting for resources, I work with them multiple times over the course of their program as their personal librarian,” she said. “I’m surprised how many of the stereotypes still exist for libraries, that they’re quiet, that it’s all about the books, and that librarians are rooted in place and you come to them. Librarians want to be more proactive and be where they’re needed. What I saw as the most important piece of the program was the focus on the future of libraries. Libraries are at a transitional point between the traditional and the possible.”