Monday, November 06, 2006

Museum Curator "helps-out" McKee Library

No Man's Land Museum
207 W. Sewell Street
Goodwell, OK 73939
(580) 349-2670
Tues.-Sat. 9-5

Debbie Colson, Custodian of Collections at No Man’s Land Historical Museum, recently joined the Marvin E. McKee Library staff as a temporary, part-time circulation manager.

This fall, Marvin E. McKee Library, Oklahoma Panhandle State University started the semester without a cataloger, no reference and instruction librarian, and no circulation manager. Evlyn Schmidt, library director and Elaina Stewart, systems librarian, tried creative ways to keep library services going. The library secretary, Janet Kravig, finished her MLIS, just in time to move into the technical services position and then the library replaced the secretary with a new Texas County resident, Dawn Lloyd. Still struggling to cover 70+ hours of open library services, the three librarians started lobbying to fill the fourth position which manages circulation, curriculum and instruction, and reference. The university administration, dealing with budget problems, placed a hold on new hiring.

How could they keep the library open 70+ hours with qualified staff and keep up with the increasing use of library services? The circulation statistics showed over 5,000 visits to the library per month-a large increase in the previous year’s statistics. Hundreds of classes are scheduled and taught in the library by Schmidt, Kravig and Stewart. Student Success classes alone brought over 250 students to the library to learn about services and materials provided by the library and staff. “Just when it seemed like we would have to start cutting services, we came up with a creative way to keep things going." says Evlyn Schmidt. "We asked for permission to use the already budgeted money for a librarian, to hire a part time employee to cover about 20 hours a week. This allowed us to re-open services on Sunday nights, which helps the students, and the salary savings is still substantial because the position has been vacant since March. While this is not a permanent solution, I am working two nights to cover the gap.”

Colson holds a Masters of Art in Museum Science from Texas Tech University, 1993. Debbie sees many parallels to library services and operations to running a museum. “Both libraries and museums include public relations and speaking, creating exhibits, researching, and management of resources.” Debbie states that she became interested in museum science as an undergraduate because she liked doing research about historic people, places and artifacts. Ms. Colson also teaches English classes for OPSU and is currently working on the “Oklahoma Statehood Exhibit” for the museum.

McKee Library has definitely benefited by having Debbie help with library services. This solution to staffing is "unusual" but it has helped the students and faculty for the library to continue to be open on Sundays and has allowed the three librarians to keep serving the student needs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Librarians are so very service oriented! Great job, McKee Library, Librarians!