Our next installment of Share Your Success, in celebration of National Medical Librarians Month, focuses on the successful strategies implemented by the HPD Library at Nova Southeastern Library in Miami, FL. The librarians have been working diligently to find ways to provide a welcoming and positive atmosphere to draw more patrons into their library. Their entry outlines a multi-year plan to improve both their space and their services.
The Health Professions Division Library at Nova Southeastern University is Listening
By Kaye Robertson, Executive Director – Health Professions Division Library, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL.
The Health Professions Division Library serves the six colleges of the Health Professions Division (HPD) of Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Until three years ago, the library was very traditional in its philosophy and mission. “We have lots of great resources; come and ask for it.”
After a lengthy self-examination and search for better models of service, we decided to become proactive in our outreach mission. We surveyed our users and asked them about services, facilities and resources so that we could become more user-centered in our philosophy. After we analyzed the survey results, we started making changes by renovating the library. We added a glass wall to separate the quiet study area from the public services/commons areas. We added more casual seating areas, computer stations and a big-screen TV in the commons/collaboration area, and we replaced the reference desk with a more user-friendly public services desk. Perhaps the best thing we did was to put a door directly from the commons area into the office of the liaison/reference librarians, giving the office a “store front” look that invites students and faculty to walk right in. This area is used for group study, collaboration, and instruction as well as library-sponsored study breaks during exams.
In addition to the physical changes, we changed our approach to our users. Our theme for 2010 was “Excellence in Service,” and we brought all staff on board with the goal of giving the best service possible to our users. We added services such as free faxing and scanning, earplugs, information seminars, more e-resources, and worked together to be more open and accessible to our users. We created a Student Library Advisory Board to seek input from the various colleges (we have a long-established Faculty Library Advisory Committee). Our liaison librarians became members of several curriculum committees and faculty groups, and some received faculty appointments. We began an iPad initiative for HPD which was highly successful and led to our facilitating new inter-professional conversations among HPD faculty members.
Our theme for 2011 is “HPD Library—We’re listening! “ We have continued to respond to student needs and requests in several important ways such as creating a production studio for students and faculty to use for assignments, instructional clips, promotional pieces, Skype sessions, etc. Our iPad initiative continued its momentum and we created a new professional librarian position for emerging technologies/collection development.
On a lighter note, we set up a Keurig coffee service for students, partnering with the Student Government Association to handle the monies. We responded to the need for more individual study space by weeding the sections of our monograph collection that were duplicated in our electronic collection. We removed shelving and designed and purchased more large carrels in the quieter, more remote areas of the library.
As mentioned earlier, our first big division-wide initiative from 2010-11 involved purchasing iPads and becoming the driving force in familiarizing faculty with the tablet and the myriad of possibilities for learning and teaching using app-driven resources. One very positive outcome of this initiative is that we have been embedding more library instruction in the curriculum by adding clinical and mobile databases as well as mobile apps for students on clinical rotation and our residents and post-graduate programs. We have added circulating iPads to our collection with many different types of medical apps loaded for faculty and students to try out. We also plan to send our Student Library Advisors with the iPads to do short touch-screen surveys to gauge the current needs and opinions of the students regarding the library.
We are now beginning our second big project: a Research Support Initiative. We found that our most active researchers were unaware of how much our liaison librarians could help them. They frequently left the library out of plans for grant-writing and proposals for research, so we are partnering with the NSU Office of Grants and Contracts and the Grant Writing Laboratory to give them added-value by inserting the HPD Library into the research process in a much more visible way. We are also hoping to facilitate more inter-professional communication and research mentoring for our HPD faculty.
The results of all these efforts have been extremely gratifying. The numbers of students and faculty in the library itself has increased significantly; the use of resources continues to increase as our users become more aware of what we can offer them; and our visibilty in the Health Professions Division and in the University continues to grow. Staff involvement and enjoyment in their jobs have increased as well as their dedication to supplying whatever our users need from the library. We regularly receive praise from individuals about all the changes and improvements we have made. Our byword now is Change—keeping up with new trends, formats and technology devices, and suggestions from our users.