Honnold-Mudd Library Updates Student Programs, Technology

Honnold-Mudd
Library, the third largest library on the West Coast, is updating its services to better suit student needs, with digital and research learning initiatives at the forefront of its plans for upcoming years.

The library has been active in making advancements in the technology
sector. According
to Char Booth, director of
Research, Teaching and Learning Services at Honnold-Mudd, the library will utilize a $1.5 million grant from
the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund a new digital humanities project that will
be integrated over a five-year period.

The project aims to infuse the field of digital humanities, which studies the interaction of the humanities with technology, into curricula at the Claremont Colleges. Dean of the Library
Kevin Mulroy said he will use the grant to fund classes and projects that support this theme at the library and elsewhere.

“Technology
is huge and is impacting libraries very dramatically,” Mulroy said. “Libraries need
to be thinking differently about the kinds of resources we’re providing, and also
the kinds of spaces where teaching and learning take place.”

The
Research, Teaching and Learning Services Department is supplying the necessary
technology to facilitate the push toward integrating digital aspects into traditionally analog fields. Booth said that the library has owned two pairs of
Google Glass for about a year and a half, during which they have been circulated nearly 100 times per week.

“Expanding
our collections into the area of emerging technology is to acknowledge that
people are interested in technology like ‘wearables’ like Oculus Rift and
Google Glass,” Booth said. “On the same principle as we buy expensive
texts and digital materials, we buy emerging technologies so that people can
experiment as a collective.”

The
heart of the administration’s strategy to unify the consortium is to engage
students within it. For example, the library established the
Undergraduate Research Award in early 2014 to promote student research. 

One
of the first steps toward student engagement was the creation of a new User
Services and Resource Sharing department in January 2015. Micquel Little, who was recently
hired as the director of the department, aims to engage student employees at Honnold-Mudd in mentoring one another through the library’s new student worker program.

Little said that the library is working on a five-year strategic plan to be released soon. Among many initiatives is one to expand physical work spaces for students at the library. Little said that the library is constantly working to respond to student needs and provide a better experience for students.

Another recent development is the creation of the Board of Student Stakeholders, a student advisory group that consists of student
government members from each college.

“Students are such an important group for us that we want to make
sure they’re happy and want their advice on things,” Little said.

As
part of this collaborative planning effort, the library implemented an Embedded
Librarian Program in 2012. One librarian was assigned to each college to be present at faculty committees, serve on curriculum, assessment and learning
committees and update library leadership with news from each school, according to the library’s 2013-2014 annual report.

Mulroy said that the Claremont University Consortium’s unique situation creates a special demand and set of challenges for the library.

“We’re
the only place in the country where one library serves seven very distinguished
colleges,” Mulroy said.

Booth said that the library should ideally serve as an
intellectual hub for the consortium.

“[It’s
a] natural nucleus for this organism,” Booth said. “I think this is what our
philosophy needs to be: becoming a connective tissue between the colleges.”

All
of these changes are taking place in the context of administrative
restructuring that began in 2012 with the creation of a Joint Governance
Committee under a “lead college model.” In this model, each college serves as lead college for a term of five years in which it is the primary overseer of the library, according to the Claremont Colleges’ Library Governance Agreement. The
current lead college is Claremont Graduate University.

The
Library Governance Agreement states that the Joint Governance Committee “provides strategic oversight of library programs,
services, and collections … that consists of the president and chief academic officer of
each member institution.”

According to Booth, Mulroy’s appointment in July 2013 has served as a catalyst for these
changes.

“A
dean’s job is to come in, assess an organization and change it for the better,” Booth said. “Since his arrival, the process of change has been accelerated very
rapidly and intentionally.”

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