It’s National Library Week, April 8 – 14, 2012, and that feels a bit strange here at DU. One may look at the Academic Commons construction zone and assume that the University of Denver doesn’t even have a library. How can a worthy academic institution exist without a library?! Chester Alter, DU’s Chancellor from 1953 until 1967, was known to say, “A great university must have at its heart a great library.” So where does that leave DU, given that our library looks like this?
At DU, we’re excited and delighted about the Academic Commons, and looking forward to the transformational impact we expect it to have on the DU student experience. Research suggests that patron visits will nearly double, so the bricks and mortar are
important to all who use the new building. The facility itself will have people flocking to enjoy the state of the art, shiny, new space. There will be so many structural enticements in the new building including huge windows, a café and porch, an atrium, group study spaces, absolute deep quiet study spaces, fireplaces, an event center, the latest technology, and abundant exhibit space to show off the treasures from our collections. But in the meantime, Penrose remains proud and functional as a library, even without a central home.
The faculty and staff of Penrose created a miracle of sorts last spring, when they removed every single thing from the 1972 Penrose Library building, yet continued to offer uninterrupted service. Currently, the 17 faculty, 60 staff and 101 student employees of Penrose Library provide all of the services, resources and materials that were offered at the original Penrose Library building, and now we do it from four separate buildings. Penrose is the largest campus employer of students, and in our temporary quarters in the Driscoll Student Center, Penrose is open 24 hours a day, 5 days a week, and slightly fewer hours on weekends. Technology allows patrons to use all of Penrose Library’s digital resources including over 600 databases, at any time of day or night from any remote location via internet access to library.du.edu.
All of this leads to the point that even without a library building, the University of Denver’s Penrose Library is at its heart the people who provide important programs and services, and who facilitate use of the vast resources of a fine academic library one expects of a great university. In the Academic Commons, staff and services will increase to include more of the important and heavily-used academic support services that are integral to student success. We have much to celebrate during National Library Week, and so much to look forward to in the Academic Commons, when the people, programs and resources at the heart of Penrose Library are all together in an amazing new building.
Click here to see a video of how Penrose currently retrieves books for patrons during the Academic Commons building project.
Click here to read Jeff Rundles’s recent column about librarians and customer care where he says, “…libraries and librarians …. must be the most helpful, the most informed, and the most knowledgeable resources on the planet.”