Adventures in Armstrong

Science Data Librarian Wendy Shook has a background in astronomy and physics, and worked at astronomical observatories before becoming a science librarian.  She can usually be found at Armstrong Science Library.

a man stands next to metal library shelves

Dean of the Libraries Mike Roy observes the results of the deselection process underway at Armstrong Library in Bicentennial Hall.

Making Space in Armstrong

Changes are coming to the Armstrong Library! After compiling spreadsheets and checklists to gather faculty feedback, the next phase of the libraries’ deselection project is underway. This work will allow us to create more room for student work spaces and, hopefully one day, seminar/study rooms. To begin, we are reviewing which bound printed periodicals we need to keep, deselecting those titles with good electronic access. Following that, we will review the deselection lists to see which out-of-date, underused, or otherwise unneeded books we can remove, and finally we will compress everything that remains into the eastern twenty compact shelving units (near Bicentennial Hall 161). We have already completed seventeen aisles of bound periodicals, with three more to go.

For this process, I review our spreadsheets of potential candidates for deselection, and make sure that the catalog record matches what is actually on the shelf. Next we check our e-access, mark which volumes we want to keep, and then we really get busy. We load the volumes we’ve decided to remove onto book carts, wheel them down to the loading docks and transfer them into shipping boxes. Recycling takes away these boxes of our discarded periodicals and library staff updates MIDCAT and national library databases such as Worldcat to reflect the changes to our holdings.

  • Newton’s Laws apply everywhere, even in the library ;-);  
  • likewise conservation of momentum, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics;  
  • … and Murphy’s Law;
  • document everything;
  • don’t overload your cart;  
  • dust masks are good;
  • so are shoes with good treads;
  • sea shanties may have helped sailors get work done efficiently, but lectures and slack key guitar work, too.

The Great Flood of 2018

Sometimes after a long day of pulling bound periodicals, you start thinking of a nice cold drink to wash away the dust, but we may have been wishing too hard. Our circulation supervisor Shawn O’Neil was accompanying our circulation student through the closing time routine when they discovered the last thing you ever want to see in a library (apart from fire, mold, and monsters): water, rushing in under the downstairs west door near the elevator at a rate of several liters per minute.

an overhead view of water flooding on the floor

An eagle eye view of the flooding in Armstrong Library

Within just a few minutes, a pool was creeping across the floor and under the oversize section. While Dr. Who’s TARDIS may include a pool in that library, Armstrong isn’t as big on the inside! Shawn called Tim Wickland, the Bicentennial Hall building manager, who then called in the troops. In short order we had staff from facilities, custodial, and public safety trying to find the source (yes, a broken pipe), staunch the flow, and clean up the mess.

a woman mops a gloor

Data Science Librarian Wendy Shook mops up water in Armstrong Library after a flood resulting from a busted pipe.

Within an hour, the water had been stopped, and by ten pm most of the water was gone, the carpets cleaned, and dryers set out. A super response from everyone, and as a result we suffered no damage at all – thank you!

New Display at Armstrong

Some readers may have seen our recent experiment with digital signage in Armstrong, where we highlight faculty research publications on a large display located on a pillar near the circulation desk, rather than simply putting a print copy in a display case as we had been doing. We’ve had many positive comments on the display from faculty and students, and now the display case is a popular place for other types of exhibits.

In a similar vein, we’re about to unveil a new display, mounted above the circulation desk and facing the Library doors. This one will show library information (hours, printer status, changes, etc.) alternating with upcoming lectures, symposia, and other academic events in Bi Hall. Our aim is to reduce sign clutter on the desk, and make the events announcements more visible.