Advancing Quest For Knowledge & Information: The University Of Louisville Libraries

Arthur E.E. Smith, Senior Lecturer of English, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone writes about his travels: "I was in Louisvlle from June 26th to August 13th attending a seminar on contemporary American literature and touring various sites of cultural interest in Louisville and other cities in the U.S. The University Library was one of those sites visited that had a never-fading impression on my mind not only for its unique architectural plan but for other inexpressible qualities that make it an ideal place for quiet and serene study. My first visit to that library was when the Director of our programme, Dr. Tom Byers,led us there for an induction into the use of computers and the internet in literature research. The room we were led into for the class was fully equipped with computers in all the over fifty desks for students and a master screen monitor for the instructor .Many other rooms including the state of art auditorium were equally well equipped.

The next significant visit was when on my way from the University post office the thought occured to me of recording the beautiful vistas of the campus in pictures and one such was the Ekstrom Library which represented to me the focal point of all the other libraries scattered at various ends of the expansive campus. "
Much More Below....I took about two views of this building and I was still gaping in wonder especially at the bewitching splendour of its frontage which combines reading with eating and relaxing.I found myself wandering in to get a better view of the library itself , As I wandered through I remembered my mission of finding support for our resources-starved university libraries in Sierra Leone. My search for the director led me into the office of Mr David Hogarth who instantly became an able facilitator of my mission, and enabling me within a week to meet the Dean of libraries thus setting the tone for significant results.

Whilst awaiting my appointment to see the Dean I was led on a tour of various parts of the Ekstrom library by Mr David Hogarth.This library I learnt holds more than 1.1 million and 5,100 journal subscriptions supporting research and curricula in the humanities, social sciences, business and education. It also contains large collections of microforms, government publications, multi-media and current periodicals, the Granville A. Bunton Pan African Collection, the Barbara S.Miller Multiracial Children's literature Collection and the Bingham Poetry Collection. The Rare Books and Photographic Archives provide rare research sources for scholars and other researchers. African American collections, English, European, and American Literatures collections together with the substantial space given to reference and reserved books make this library a very significant research as well as information dissseminating tool. But it is also a repository and exhibitor of many prized manuscripts and other documents. There is for example the outstanding 1482 first printing of Euclid's ELEMENTIA and a copy of the PRINCIPIA with

annotations in Newton's hand. The working collection of Richard M. Kain, and the first editions and manuscripts of James Joyce and W.B. Yeats preserve much of Irish Literary Renaissance heritage. There is also quite a good collection of Modern English and American writers with noteworthy editions by 1890's authors and books as well as autographed letters from members of the Bloomsbury Group.

A famous and ever-growing and rich collection of special materials, archives and photography include:

  • Roy and Dela White Colleection of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
  • Arthur J. Slavin.Collection of English History.
  • Hattie Winston Collection of African- American Scripts and Screen Plays.
  • Irwin – Hilliard Archive of Fine Bindings.
  • Williams – Nichols Library and Archive for Gay and Lesbian Studies.
  • Billy Davis 111 Collection of Aerial Photography.

Other special collections include the James Chandler WORLD War Posters and Lafin Allen’s Kentucky Maps. There is as well the phoographic Archives housing more than 2 million photographs and manuscripts and fine art prints. It also offers printing services and a rotating series of exhibits. The Roy Stryker Papers include photographs and manuscripts from documentary projects directed by Stryker at the Farm Security Administration, Standard Oil Company and Jones and Laughlin Steel. The Cautfield and Shook Royal Photo and Lin Caufield collections consist of photographs from Louisville's past. Whilst the Lean Thomas, Matlack Studio, Arthur Y Ford and Henderson Settlement School collections document life and culture in Appalachia.. 2,000 prints by many notable American artists such as Paul Caponegro and Gary Winogrand constitute the library's Fine Print Collection.

The library offers quite a lot of varied services for its patrons. Through e-mail, phone or in person you could request and receive help on any reference question or even fix a session with a research librarian, With a Cardinal card you could check out up to 99 items at a time and renew books on-line. Visiting academics are entitled to inter-library loans of up to 15 books. A University of Louisville student enjoys the previledge of searching for items reserved for his class on-line. Through Minerva you could gain on-line access to catalogues and gateways to many collections. The library also serves the community, other institutions as well as high school students..

University of Louisville distance learners could access off-campus through their ULINK username and password both library assignments by course professors and electronic databases of library resources for self-directed research from non-University of Louisville internet addresses.

Ekstrom Library houses and lends resources to two university units that play pivotal support roles at University of Louisville. These are the Delphi Center and the Writing Center. The Delphi Center helps professors use technology in their teaching and prepares them to teach courses online. The writing center assists students, professsors and staffs with writing projects and holds workshops on improving writing skills. Through this center you can schedule an appointment with a writing consultant and find important writing resources.

The University of Louisville libraries is a conglomerate of libraries stocking books on few selected disciplines such as music, visual art, health sciences, engineering, physical science and technology. At the time of my tour the over 149,000 volumes constituting the engineering, physical science and technology books and journals were in the process of being transferred to the main library.

Besides the William Ekstrom main Library, the University library network consists of : The Kornhauser Health Sciences Library; The Dwight Anderson Music Library; The Margaret M. Bindwell Art Library; and The University Archives and Records Center.

The Kornhauser Health Sciences Library serves as a comprehensive and the most current health sciences information resource center. It is also a "Regional Resource Library" in the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. It represents a significant resource for the entire health sciences community of the Louisville metropolitan area and the western half of Kentucky. It has over 250,000 volumes, 2,700 journal subscriptions, audiovisual materials and a variety of electronic formats. It stocks numerous items relating to health care in Kentucky and the Trans-Appalachian West, including historical collections, the medical school archives, book manuscripts and physical objects.

The Dwight Anderson Music Library providesuser-centeredservices.. It offers also seamless access to information resources in all formats and serves as a center for teaching and learning which supports the University of Louisville School of Music curriculum and research. It houses the largest academic music collection in Kentucky including the Gravemeyer Collection of Contemporary Music comprising all submissions to the internationally renowned Music Composition Award as well as a large assortment of sheet music containing thousands of Louisville imprints celebrating the history of music publishing in the city and the "Traipin Woman" collection with its emphasiis on American folk song.

The Margaret M. Bridwell Art Library is a gateway to information for teaching, research
and scholarship in art, design, art history and architectural history. It has more than 80,000 volumes. It subscribes to over 300 domestic and foreign journals and museum bulletins. It has also hundreds of videos and provides access to the major electronic and print indexes. Subjects covered here include painting, drawing, sculpture, print-making, photography, architectural history , interior design, graphic design, art education, pottery, fiber arts and decorative arts. It also holds approximately 3,000 rare and scarce volumes and about 150 linear feet of archival materials..

The librarians strive concertedly with academic staff to meet the information literacy and research needs of a diverse population recognizing that libraries are an essential tool in the University's mission to become a premier nationally recognized metropolitan university.

The University of Louisville libraries is guided in all its undertakings by its vision that libraries are the academic heart of the university and a place for discovery and learning outside the classroom and the lab. They therefore seek to participate as active and integral partners in meaningful learning, outstanding teaching and effective research. Users are therefore always being instructed on information availability and use. Services and resources are always being tailored according to the varying needs of users. Library staff thus identify, evaluate and select materials of varying formats to develop collections that meet user needs. They also apply technology, research and instructional innovations to enhance services and access to traditional and electronic collections.

After rapid expansion in stocks, rapid technological advancement including the introduction of a robotic retrieval system enabling more books than could be retained in the library halls being stacked in trays which are accessed by computers on user request, the libraries now seem poised to attain the ambitious goals of the university of becoming a premier metropolitan university that is nationally recognized for advancing intellectual, social and economic development.

The libraries' technological resources have developed to state-of-theart electronic information centers for the campus community with more than 550 computer workstations from which one can borrow laptop computers for use anywhere in the libraries. Advanced wireless technology enables laptop users to access the internet and the libraries' vast electronic resources. Researchers could access 25,000 full-text journals and hundreds of electronic databases. Two teaching laboratories enable librarians to conduct classes in the library with instant access to the online world. The university community can access thousands of electronic information resources from hundreds of computer work stations in the libraries and also from anywhere: their offices, classrooms or home. Minerva, the online catalogue indexes and accesses the many items held within the libraries. Through its access to national and regional electronic networks one could search many library catalogs and databases around the nation and even around the world.

The University of Louisville Libraries has been a member of the Association of Research Libraries, the most prestigious and influential library association in North America. Propelled by strong financial support from the University administration it has achieved much in striving toward national prominence. It has also strengthened its ties with Metroversity, a consortium of higher education institutions in metro Louisville, Kentucky, Virtual Library and other library consortia in the region and nation thus adding significantly to the materials made available to its students and faculty and to students and faculties from other campuses.

It has established Kentucky’s first library chair, the Evelyn J. Schneider Endowed Chair For Scholarly Communication underwriten by the estate of a longtime university librarian and the state's Research Challenge Trust Fund. The first chair holder, Dwayne K. Butler is a highly regarded expert in copyright law, particularly that related to educational and electronic resources.

Overseeing all these developments for the past nine years has been a charismatic ,energetic, ingenious and visionary woman,Prof. Hannnelorewery Rader, Dean of Libraries, whom I had the priviledge of talking to in her office. Prof Radar brought to Louisville a wealth of experience. For seventeen years she headed the Cleveland and Wisconsin university libraries and held various positions at Eastern Michigan University for almost twelve years. She has written widely in her field and attended many professional conferences. She was eventually named in 1999 Outstanding Academic Research Librarian.

Through Dr Radar's innovative ideas , her drive and direction together with the expanding library collection, upgraded resources, a more inviting environment, helpful and innovative library staff and academics library usage has recorded a 60 percent increase thus exceeding the 2 million per annum mark. One striking innovation is the Tulip Coffee Shop in the spacious lobby where readers enjoy tasty sandwiches and other relishing rolls with cups of tea, coffee orange juice or diet coke as they read or scroll through the internet.

According to Prof Radar, her philosophy is to cater for the needs of the mostly non-traditional studentship mostly adults of varying ages and non-residential for increasingly comfortable atmosphere and facilitating the processes of accessing information. This explains her introduction of the snack bar ahd the constant restructuring and redecorating the premises are always subjected to.

Through the University Writing Centre you can schedule an appointment with a writing consultant and find important writing resources. The Libraries in their entirety, the Dean told me, hold millions of print volumes from many countries, electronic books and databases and thousands of electronic journals, reference materials, other library resources, library guides and services.

My last days in Louisville were very productive and exciting as I sat on the internet finishing articles and sending correspondences in the sedate setting of the internet lab. As I complete this piece on a commercially timed machine in Freetown, Sierra Leone I recall with nostalgic yearning LOUISVILLE and the library which was a museum a community center as well as a recreation center.

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