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Saint Mary’s looks to improve library system by merging Library and IT departments

| Thursday, March 21, 2019

Saint Mary’s is currently undergoing the long and complex process of merging their Library and Information Technology departments. The merger, which began in the spring of 2018 under the leadership of former College President Jan Cervelli, hopes to modernize and streamline the library system.

Librarian at Cushwa-Leighton Library Catherine Pellegrino said she is confident that the merger will make the library an even more valuable asset to the College.

“We’re very optimistic about this being an opportunity for both groups to work together more productively and in ways that allow us to combine our strengths and use those to better serve primarily the students, but also the faculty, the staff and the community,” Pellegrino said.

The process of merging the two departments is complex and requires lots of communication between those involved. Pellegrino said she meets weekly with chief information office Todd Norris.

Norris said the size of the merger means that faculty from across the College’s departments have been involved in the process.

“We have a working group that’s collaborating. It’s IT folks, library folks and some folks from around campus that aren’t in either group that are helping us plan,” he said.

A major step in the process of merging the departments will be taken on April 1, when Joseph Thomas assumes the role of Library Director. Even when Thomas does arrive, the merger will continue on a long-term basis, with changes possibly not being completed in time for the 2019-2020 school year. Norris, who travelled to Kalamazoo College and has consulted over 20 other colleges who have undergone similar mergers, said the purpose of this steady pace is to minimize disruption within each department.

The combination of the Library and IT departments provides for exciting possibilities in the realm of helping students. Of the many changes being considered, Norris said everything from the hours the library is open to the location of student help services are on the table.

“We’re still looking at space in the library and how it will best be used,” he said. “One of the things were looking at, hoping for, planning toward would be 24-hour study space. That would include individual study space and group study space.”

Other ways the College is looking to improve the library involve advancements in technology, Norris said.

“[Some ideas] would be some screens where students can use an iPad or iPhone or Mac-book to share their screen on the larger screen and be able to practice presentations, podcasts and those types of things students are being asked to do occasionally in classes,” Norris said.

The guiding principle in all these improvements, Norris said, is student input.

“It’s just stuff students have identified that they want. If [students] want it, then I want it,” Norris said. “I’m here to support [students], I’m here to support the faculty and the staff. That’s my entire job.”

Norris said that all these changes to the library services seek to be positive additions to, not subtractions from, the library experience.

“Is there a possibility that we would change the way services are delivered? Maybe. It’s a possibility. But only in the way that would make them more technology friendly, more accessible, more often,” Norris said. “It’s just a shift. We’re not planning on taking anything away as far as IT services, library services [and] the content you get at the library.”

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