Learning English in an English Speaking Country

Those of you who have spoken to fluent or native English speakers will have heard them tell of the benefits of learning English in an English speaking country. The advantages of this are obvious. Providing you live with, or have daily communicative contact with English speakers, there is no doubt that this will enhance and speed up becoming a good English speaker. You will find yourself in typical everyday situations, where you need to understand and communicate in English. You are likely to find yourself in embarrassing situations, where you make mistakes, frequently misunderstand, or fail to understand completely. This can often lead to frustration and create an urge to try harder and commit more time to learning English. This can often have very effective results.

Learning English in a non English speaking country

Sometimes, learning English in an English speaking country is not possible. Instead, you have to do it whilst remaining in your home country. However, the results are often somewhat different. Input is often restricted to what you are exposed to in the classroom. Progress can often be slow and you will often find enthusiasm wanes after the novelty has worn off. This is because outside the classroom, there is no need to converse in English. The closest you get to this is through completing your homework, but often you will find this becomes a chore. Unless you are blessed with dogged determinism and enthusiasm, many of us will forget all about learning English until we step into the classroom again the following week.

Other benefits of learning English in an English speaking country

Not only does learning English in an English speaking country improve your general language learning experience, it also exposes you to other important factors attached to language learning. This includes the culture, the people and the overall functions of how certain countries do things. You will become familiar with the food people eat, when and how they eat, how people spend their free time, what people choose to spend their money on and how much things cost. The list is endless. It can provide you with an opportunity to really see how English speaking people live and provide you with an opportunity to see if you would like to live and work there yourself either permanently or temporarily in the future.

Making English speaking friends

If you spend a lot of time learning English in an English speaking country, you are very likely to make friends with native English speakers. You will go out with them, eat with them and experience all the things that they experience in their daily lives. This kind of interaction is especially good for learning the more informal aspects of the English language, like accent and dialect, proverbs and other “-ism’s” found in the English Language. You are only likely to learn these if you hear them spoken by a native speaker and are comfortable enough to ask what they mean. This is a very important part of becoming a fluent English speaker, as there are hundreds of these that are used frequently in everyday conversation among native speakers.

How to learn English in an English Speaking Country

Many of you will be thinking this is easier said than done. Going abroad costs a lot of money, and even once you’re there, issues of where you will stay and what you will do whilst learning to speak English will be on your mind. Fortunately, there are many schemes in place to facilitate this process.

Learn English Online to Master the English Language Easily and Affordably

As we all know, English is without doubt the international language. It is estimated the number of people speak English in the world is in the region of 600 million! Some even say one out of every five people on earth can speak English to some level of competence. It is therefore very important to learn English. It can be really rewarding and broaden your options in job and career advancement. There are many ways one could learn English but the most effective one is through the internet. Learn English online is effective and affordable as there are many good programs and courses available online for learning English. The advantage of Learning English online is that you can learn at your own time and can learn from any part of the world! You can use msn and skype to contact your online teachers and study English from the comfort of your home or office.

To improve your English, you have to learn the meaning of many English words and need to understand the usage of English grammar in great detail. Reading is the best way to increase vocabularies and learn how to avoid making wrong use of words. If we read magazines or newspapers written in English regularly, we will pick up and remember the many new words we come across. You can use online dictionaries to search for meaning of a word or word that you are not sure to pronounce. It can instantly look up accurate and extensive definitions and word meanings, and hear the audio pronunciations of the word selected. Using online dictionary is just like having a teacher close at hand. It makes reading a very enjoyable pastime as we could understand the whole story in detail. You should also test your knowledge of English language with the many free interactive grammar and vocabulary exercises platform available online as well.

Besides learning to read English, we must also learn to speak in English. Practice speaking in English with your family members and friends is one of the best ways to learn spoken English. Try listen to radio stations or online stations if you are away from home. You might not understand at first, but keep listening and maintain a regular habit of listening to the stations will eventually pick up the spoken English. Online learning usually is interactive and you should be able to hear the word being said to you. It is a well known fact that people learn quicker when they hear and see things together

We should also try to talk to native English-speaking people as much as we could because it gives you a real native conversation practice. You should not be afraid to speak in English. If we never learn to take risks to open mouths, it will be impossible to improve speaking skills. There is no reason to be ashamed of speaking poor English. If we can learn from our mistakes, failure can become part of our success. In fact, the secret of success is come from failure.

In conclusion, there is no short cut to learning English. Persistence and consistency is the keys to success. If you want to write and speak perfect English, don’t ever give up trying to achieve your goal. If we are prepared to work hard at it, we will be successful in the end. Learn English online is just like having an online teacher available around the clock, along with the web’s widest range of course and interactive learning tools available. So learn English online is one of the most effective and faster ways to master the English language.

Bringing Out the Best in Professional Library Staff in Sierra Leone

Introduction

Bringing out the best from library staff has been an issue for the proper functioning of librarians in Sierra Leone (SL). Librarians, according to Crosby (2008) are information experts in the Information Age. Their expertise in the handling of information has not been seen or realized, even though these professionals have been around for a long time. Librarians and information professionals have not attained the status and position they should rightly occupy in society. In most Ministries, Departments and Government Agencies (MDAs), where information handling and records keeping are key functions, librarians, records managers and information professionals have not been employed to do these jobs. Instead, other professionals, mostly people with accounting and business management backgrounds have been employed. In essence, the work of librarians has not been so much felt and appreciated.

Library and information services in Sierra Leone

Information is a fundamental asset for any society to thrive well in this 21st century. It is the tool by which learning takes place and decisions are made. It provides the needed answers to people’s requests and longings from all walks of life. Therefore, the provision of library and information services to all is indisputable. Almost all types of libraries exist in SL, because no individual library can provide all the information needed by every potential user. In this regard, different libraries exist to serve different users and their needs.

The Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) serves as both the National and Public library in the country. There are mainly nine (9) Academic libraries scattered throughout the country, all of these are found in the tertiary institutions (Universities, Colleges, Institutes and Teacher Training Colleges) providing higher education. School libraries are found in most Primary, Junior and Senior Secondary Schools. However, a vast majority of these are not functional. Special libraries are found in MDAs, private companies and individual established libraries. In addition to these are research and documentation centres, such as the Medical Research Centre; Information Resource centres, such as that established by the Embassy of the United States of America; and many small community information centres. These information centres are widely used by information seekers due to the main fact that they provide online services for almost free of charge.

The SLLB serves as the pivotal point for the provision of library and information services in the country. It is open to all: professionals, academics, researchers, students, pupils and for all children. There also, the general populace information needs are catered for. All of these are geared towards meeting our societal needs for information, education, research, entertainment and leisure activities.

Staff in libraries and information service institutions in Sierra Leone

There are two broad classes of staff employed in our libraries as is the case for libraries all over the world: those involved in library and information work, and those who provide back-up services. Library and information staff functions at different levels from non-professional, Para-professional, professional, specialists to managerial. At the support level, there are also manual/care taking staff, clerical/secretarial, technical and computer staff, and specialist staff. These all play a part in providing the information that users’ desire.

Library staff should function above the normal information provision role. Other important functions are:

I. Guide – providing physical, technical and intellectual guides to information resources in various formats;
ii. Collaborate – with others, known users as well as users who come for some manner of services over and over again, and even remote users;
iii. Prioritize – be flexible in performing new functions in order to incorporate new demands in procedures, structures and directions;
iv. Empower – delegate responsibility thereby empowering colleagues; and
v. Understand core capabilities – of the library, its environment, colleagues and most importantly the users.

Training library staff in Sierra Leone

The Institute of Library, Information and Communication Studies (INSLICS), Fourah Bay College (FBC), University of Sierra Leone (USL), is where Librarians and Information Professionals are trained and equipped for the world of work. INSLICS comprises two divisions that offer two distinct programs: the Divisions of Mass Communication and Library, Archive and Information Studies respectively. The Mass Communication Division offers academic courses in the art and science of human communication and prepares students for career opportunities in public information services, print media, broadcast media, public relations, film production, advertising, marketing, advocacy and related fields. While the Division of Library, Archive and Information Studies caters for the professional training of librarians, records managers, archivists and information scientists to manage libraries, resource centres, information centres and related activities.

The Division of Library, Archive and Information Studies was formally established in 1986. It aims to provide for the training and education of Librarians, Archivists, and Information Scientists at a variety of levels, for those employed in both professional and non-professional capacities in Libraries, Archive Departments and Information Centres. Within the USL it is the particular mission of the Division of Library, Archive and Information Studies to educate men and women for professional careers as librarians and information specialists and to foster research and service programs relating to society’s library and information needs.

Its goals are:

I. To furnish students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are basic to professional competence and career-long professional growth in the field of library and information services;
II. To expand the knowledge base of the profession through research; and
III. To share its resources by extending services within and beyond SL.

The Division currently offers the following courses:

1. Special Certificate in Library, Archive and Information Studies – this is a one year full-time course and is ideally suited to those with some experience of library and information work, who wish to receive training in basic library/information skills;

2. Diploma in Library, Archive and Information Studies – a two-year full-time course for those who may have some experience of library work and who hope to hold a Para-professional position in a library/information centre or archive in the future;

3. Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Library, Archive and Information Studies – a four-year full-time course;

4. Post-Graduate Diploma in Library, Archive and Information Studies – a one-year program for graduates;

5. Master of Philosophy in Library, Archive and Information Studies – a two-year program, i.e. one year taught program and one year research.

The challenge for library staff

The challenges facing library staff in SL are numerous. Among them, the following are worth mentioning: low wages, limited capacity, no proper networking, poor infrastructure, users’ ignorance and the polemics of status.

The challenge of users’ ignorance

An anonymous writer once wrote that “A library is a hospital for the mind.” This means that the librarian is the trained doctor or nurse to administer treatment to every sick mind. This also means that the user who needs information is the sick mind that really needs treatment from the librarian. This is the ideal case, but not the pragmatic one. For every Sierra Leonean needs information for survival and growth; but going to the library is the major barrier. This is due to the fact that many are not well informed that the library exists to provide the daily information they want. As such there are libraries with information and knowledge to help people, but these people are unaware of going there for such help. It is therefore the responsibility of library staff to make people become aware that the library can meet their daily information needs. They must find ways and means to reach out to the public. Two important ways for every library are through the public relations and marketing library and information services.

The challenge of the polemics of status

Wilson (1982) stated that librarians have long exhibited a curious, and intense, status anxiety that is reflected in the endless polemics about the professional status (or lack thereof) among them. Librarianship should be one of those professions seeking a conspicuous status in the market. As Harris (1995) mentioned, since the inception of the idea of a ‘library’ in the United States, and more significantly, since the middle of the 19th century, librarians and friends of libraries have been debating the proper role of the library profession. Librarianship is one of those professions that impinge on the very survival of any society. The Librarian commands a unique status parallel with traditional professions in SL. If we can accept the saying that “knowledge itself is a form of power,” then the Librarian is the controller of that power. He is the custodian of the nation’s knowledge base.

A redefinition of the library profession and the librarian in developing countries is urgently needed. Just as how Huttemann (1985) mentioned that “self-sustaining and self-reliant Pan-African economic growth needs to develop its natural and human resources.” So the work and role of librarians are keys for SL to realize her much envisaged economic growth and prosperity. As Huttemann further stated that the promotion of socioeconomic and cultural development can be conducted properly only if it is supported by sound information and documentation services needed for sectors like education, health services, agriculture, industry and trade alike. In essence, it is a matter of must that librarians should be in the business of accessing, organizing, storing and disseminating information where and when needed.
It is also crystal clear that librarians must question the definition they have accepted. A thorough understanding of their role is a sine qua non for a clearer view. They must come forward with the goal of helping society to understand that they exist to provide information for survival and growth. This goal, as insisted by Bundy and Wasserman (1968) and Harris, Hannah and Harris (1998) must be to forge a new professional identity.

Librarianship, according to Taylor (1980), is the profession that is concerned with the systematic organization of knowledge in all its various formats and its dissemination for the purpose of preserving society’s cultural heritage, promoting scholarship and the generation of new knowledge. However, this definition is far-fetched to the common understanding of many Sierra Leoneans. The general view is of some persons sitting behind many books in large stalks of shelves and waiting for patrons to come and request for assistance. For long librarians in SL have been labeled as “book keepers” and jobs for those teachers who have been left out unnoticeable by the school curriculum. The profession itself has long been battling with Public Relations (PR). As Mchombu (1985) put it ” In most developing countries, the percentage of population which are active library users is still very low… it is, therefore, important to encourage many more people from all walks of life to increase their use of Libraries so that existing information resources can be fully exploited” (p.115). In essence, as Mchombu further asserted library staff can no longer afford to sit and wait for a few enlightened readers to come to them, they must be more aggressive, be prepared to go out and search for and encourage all potential readers to come to the library because it has information which can be applied to what they are doing to improve final results.

To this, librarians must ensure that they emphasis on creating value from know-how and expertise. Bell (1973) has long since made this clarion call that the central figure in the post-industrial society will be the information professional. For as Bell insisted what counts is not raw muscle power, or energy, but information. The central person is the professional, for he is equipped, by his education and training, to provide the kinds of skill that is increasingly demanded in the post-industrial society.

Bringing out the best in library staff

The library profession must be able to overcome its challenges. A sure way of doing this is to motivate every library staff. When library staff are properly motivated, the best from them can be realized. Library managers should as a matter of must, make motivation for staff an issue of importance. Motivating staff in any organization is probably the most difficult task of the manager. Not only do people react differently to the same stimuli but the motivation process is quite complex. It is concerned with those factors that stimulate human behavior, how behavior is directed, and how it can be maintained. Staff can seem at times to behave illogically, perversely and unpredictably. Contrary to the belief of some, the good management of staff is not just a matter of common sense. To manage staff requires a formal effort to grasp these influences so that our individual attitudes can be controlled and developed to meet the day to day staff situation in a way in which common sense will have difficulty (Shimmon, 1976).

It is particularly important that the manager of a service organization like a library/information unit makes this effort for two reasons: Firstly, his product, being service is closely linked with the attitudes of serving staff themselves and it is not possible by inspection to reveal a faulty service in the easy way that faulty materials can be detected; and secondly, the cost of labor is likely to continue rising at a greater rate than that of the manager’s other main tools, machinery and materials, and he must therefore use the staff he really does need to best advantage (Webb, 1985). Some of the staff may be motivated by money and what it will buy, others by achieving ever higher services year after year, and some by the “thrill of the change.” Thus the manager, will need to address motivation in some depth by studying speculations such as organizational theory and behavior.

The challenge for bringing out the best

Someone has said unofficially that Sierra Leoneans naturally are not difficult to please. Sierra Leoneans are generally motivated when the two lowest layers of Maslow’s pyramid are satisfied. One of the basic problems in this society is a good remuneration package that can take care of the basic needs of people. In this part of the world five basic needs are evident: food, shelter, clothing, transportation and medical. If attention is paid to these needs for every library staff, we have solved much of the problems affecting them and we are on the verge of getting the best from them.

So a good package must contain basic pay and allowances that will cover rent, transportation, and medical. The Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) announced minimum wage pay is Five Hundred Thousand Leones (SLL 500,000.00), placing it at Eighty United Dollars (US$ 80) at the current exchange rate (2016). This will not provide the good pay that librarians will want to work for. The rising cost of basic necessities, particularly food items, due to inflation in the country, means that this minimum wage is not encouraging. Therefore libraries must ensure that they go two times beyond this minimum wage pay in order to meet their staff basic need.

Furthermore, staff should be sent to the library school for training and development. Longer-serving staff without qualifications can be encouraged to do certificate programs. Reference and other professional librarians are to be sent for refresher courses and exchange programs for capacity development.

Conclusively, the best from library staff can be enhanced if the challenges facing them are dealt with and if they are properly motivated. Among the several challenges, user ignorance and the polemics of status are to be surmounted by librarians. Furthermore, they should be fairly motivated to take on their proper roles. In this sense, their remuneration packages as well as encouragement for career developments and training must be attended to. The library school should help in this direction.

The University Of Louisville Libraries – A Library of the 21st Century

Whilst in Louisvlle attending a seminar on contemporary American literature and touring various sites of cultural interest the University Library was one of those sites 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 was when the Director of our program 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.

I passed through the library on many other occasions. But the most significant one was when on my way from the University post office the thought occurred to me of recording the beautiful vistas of the campus in pictures as well as in mind 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.

I took about two views of this building and I was still gaping in wonder especially at the bewitching splendor of its frontage with readers combining eating and relaxing. I was particularly struck by its inviting, comfortable, and open space teeming with students and bustling with activity, a lovely terrace equipped with outdoor furniture, facing a pleasantly inviting green outdoor space, exploiting the favorably warm climactic conditions here for enjoying nature. Taking advantage of the generally mild Kentucky weather with its ample, inviting green space, students can study or just catch a break at a number of outdoor tables on the terrace. On nice days, there are few better places to study-and certainly it makes for an inviting entry

I found myself wandering in to get a better view. As I wandered through I remembered my mission of seeking support for our resources-starved university libraries in Sierra Leone. My search for the head led me into the office of Mr David Hogarth who instantly became an able facilitator of my mission enabling me within a week to meet the Dean of libraries.

Whilst awaiting my appointment with her I was led on a tour of various parts of the Ekstrom library. This library, I learn, 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 Literature collections together with the substantial space given to reference and reserved books make this library a very significant research as well as information disseminating tool. But it is also a repository and exhibitor of many prized manuscripts and other documents like for example the outstanding 1482 first printing of Euclid’s Elemental and a copy of the Principal 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 Collection 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.

Billy Davis 111 Collection of Aerial Photography.

Other special collections include the James Chandler World War Posters and Lafin Allen’s Kentucky Maps.

The photographic Archives houses more than 2 million photographs and manuscripts as well as 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 also serves a much wider community beyond the campus.Through e-mail, phone or in person one could request and receive help or even fix a session with a research librarian here. A Cardinal card enables you to 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 privilege of searching for items reserved for his class on-line. Minerva gives on-line access to catalogues and gateways to many collections. University of Louisville distance learners could access off-campus through their ULINK username and password both library assignments by their 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 the Delphi and the Writing Centers. The Delphi Center helps professors use technology in their teaching and prepares them to teach courses online. The writing center assists students, professors and staffs with writing projects and holds workshops on improving writing skills. Through this center an appointment with a writing consultant could be scheduled and important writing resources found.

The University of Louisville libraries 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 was in the process of moving in to Ekstrom the main library, the over 149,000 volumes constituting the engineering, physical science and technology books and journals.
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 a comprehensive and the most current health sciences information resource center 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 providing user-centered services offers 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 emphasis on American folk song.

The Margaret M. Bridwell Art Library with its more than 80,000 volumes is a gateway to information for teaching, research and scholarship in art, design, art history and architectural history. 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 45, 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 tailored to suit 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.

Rapid expansion in stocks, rapid technological advancement including the introduction of a robotic retrieval system has enabled more books than could be retained in the library halls being stacked in trays which are accessed by computers on user request. The system gives the library enough space for over three million volumes. The less frequently used volumes will be loaded into the system, and students can still browse titles in open stacks in the old wing of the library. Books stored in the RRS are identified as such in MINERVA, the library’s catalog. To request the item, patrons click on a live “request” button onscreen, and then a robotic crane is sent off to find the item, moving among racks of steel bins holding books and journals from which the robotic arm selects, grabs and delivers the appropriate bin to a pickup station where a library attendant pulls the exact item and delivers it to the circulation desk within minutes. The entire process which I witnessed myself takes only minutes and handles numerous simultaneous requests.

Having the RRS, I was told, also saves the library the cost of a courier service and the additional library staff needed to operate a remote storage facility. The Ekstrom Library’s RRS stands out in how artfully it is built into the central design of the new addition. With numerous windows on the system, students can literally stand at the circulation desk, make a request, and actually see the system fill their form watching it work serving almost as a piece of 21st-century art, a book fountain of sorts, whizzing and whirring volumes past the windows. In all, the Ekstrom addition contributes a hefty 42,500 square feet of space to the library

The library’s robotic retrieval system (RRS) has freed up significant space for exhibits in the library, like the one by Split Rock Studios, St. Paul; designer, Lisa Friedlander that highlights the year of Kentucky’s founding and features a statue of Henry Clay, Kentucky senator from 1806 to 1850. The desk is a replica of the desk Clay used when he was in the Senate-the actual desk is in the office of Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, who endowed the Ekstrom expansion and the McConnell Center for Political Leadership.

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 library’s massive atrium allows light to pour into the building and over the circulation desk.

The libraries’ technological resources have developed to state-of-the-art 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 library’s three new, modern instruction labs equipped with wireless technology and state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, emphasize the library’s continually expanding role in teaching and learning. Instructional Lab 1 and Instructional Lab 2 have become extremely flexible spaces hosting a version of the 3M Road Show for Kentucky librarians.

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 is a member of the Association of Research Libraries, the most prestigious and influential library association in North America. Strong financial support from the University administration has propelled it up to national prominence and impetus in strengthening 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 underwritten 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 eleven years has been a charismatic, energetic, ingenious and visionary woman, Prof Hannnelorewery Rader, Dean of Libraries, whom I had the privilege of talking to. 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 of her striking innovations 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. The Tulip Tree CafĂ© has become so popular that it may soon need to add another cash register.

Louisville offers one of the nation’s best information literacy programs. Louisville libraries are no longer just places for research, but are now like other libraries today places of active instruction.

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 and the constant restructuring and redecorating of the premises.

“We wanted to have a space where students could learn and do research but also socialize. … We wanted to offer a library space for all of those things,” for as she stressed “Our students are urban, many are part-time and don’t live on campus. We want them to be on campus.” To accomplish that, she says, they completely re-imagined their library for the 21st century.

“Space was an issue,” Rader says. “We were running out of space for our materials, and that’s pretty much a problem for most academic libraries.” Today, the library space is more than repository but a place for instruction, to showcase unique holdings and exhibits, and to foster student collaboration and all forms of interaction, both with information sources in all formats as well as with librarians.

With space a key concern, the highlight of the Ekstrom Library expansion is its robotic retrieval system, a unique system made up of more than 7000 steel bins, offering climate-controlled storage for up to 1.2 million volumes. Rader was already familiar with how efficient the system could be, having come from Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, one of the first to install such a system. “We never really considered an off-site storage facility,” as she said. “We don’t want to store the books miles away, send for them when a student needs them, and then wait to have them delivered to campus.” For as she notes, the robotic system can retrieve and deliver a book in a matter of minutes while off-site storage can sometimes take days.

The University of Louisville being a public institution, open to the general public,it is, according to Rader putting an even greater premium on space and efficiency. So rather than filling the space with immovable objects, such as banks of PCs, it is completely wireless and filled with flexible seating, from stuffed, comfortable chairs and small tables to wooden chairs and large, roomier tables for students to spread out their work. “Students can bring their own or check out laptops at the circulation desk.” Meanwhile, 600 traditional workstations remain in the old wing for those who wish to use them.

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.

In addition to increased room for student collaboration, the library expansion features three new library instruction labs, where formal or informal classes are held, and the charming new 150-seat Elaine Chao auditorium, all handicapped accessible, and equipped with the latest technology, including wireless Internet access and state-of-the-art AV equipment.

With digital resources offering access to information, much of the library’s space is freed up for the library’s more unique holdings. An ambitious slate of lectures, seminars, conferences, exhibits, and displays, all designed to engage students, faculty, and the community in the library have been laid out as ongoing activities. Chao, who serves as Labor Secretary under President Bush, spoke recently in the auditorium that bears her name.

In addition, the library is home to the McConnell Center for Political Leadership, featuring the papers and exhibits of Kentucky’s Republican Senator Mitch McConnell. The bipartisan center sponsors a range of programming, including lectures and seminars. In fact, the Ekstrom expansion owes a great deal to the McConnell Center-the $14.2 million project was funded by federal grants earmarked by McConnell.

The Elaine L. Chao auditorium is named for the current U.S. Secretary of Labor and plays host to a full slate of lectures and seminars. The space between the rows is exceptionally wide, preventing cramped knees or contortions to allow people to pass. The acoustics in the auditorium are “perfect,” making the space the university president’s favorite venue for press conferences presenting a great location for TV cameras, press feeds, etc. Chao herself recently spoke there, as has Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA).

To Radar though it’s still a library storing information, it is also a place for people to hang out, a place for the whole university, a space to be, a space for events, for special teaching and learning sessions.” a 21st-century library.”