Missing from the Feb. 15 article about the library, was mention of the library’s efforts over the past year to make their resources more accessible to students with learning differences (LD, also called learning disabilities). LD students are an extremely “fragile” and vulnerable population at PSU.
Statistically, we should have around 2,500 students with LD, but officially we have only 93, down from 104 last year. Although LD students make up 15-20 percent of the general population, at PSU there are less than 0.5 percent receiving accommodations (a typical number at universities nationally). We have no data on how many actually graduate.
Last spring, I lead a Capstone class, “Opening Doors: LD and the Library,” in investigating accessibility for LD students at the library – a place that makes or breaks a scholarly pursuit. We found the library to be very responsive to our work. In fact, within two weeks of receiving our final report, the assistant director of the library, Don Frank, was working with the library architect in redesigning plans to implement seven out of our nine recommendations.
Our work, like the Vanguard article, was critical of the library, yet the library was very receptive to that criticism. This term, the library provided the Opening Doors Capstone class with a high tech classroom, and with two library advisors – the assistant director, Don Frank, and with librarian Elizabeth Howell. These advisors are available to us on a daily basis, are often in our classroom and provide an important resource to our work.
It has been my experience with the library that the employees there want, seek out and act on feedback from the population they serve. It has been my experience with the library that we do not need to attack the employees harshly to get a response from them. They are not mind readers, so we need tell them what our needs are.
We may not have a Starbucks and a Krispy Kreme donut shop on the first floor of our library as does the University of Texas library, but we do have a staff of people who are highly motivated to serve. I believe their level of dedication excels beyond that of any ordinary group of employees at the college. They are working hard to make the library the “center” of the college rather than just another building.