LIBRARY SOUP

“Library Perspective,” by Gary R. Fick; Professor of Natural Sciences; Sciences & Psychology Librarian

I’ve worked in libraries for almost half a century, including SPU’s library for over the last 38. In about two months I’m going to retire. I’ve worked part-time first as a page in a city public library system shelving books and checking out materials for patrons, then as a guard at the same small urban branch, and finally at a large university library reference desk helping students locate books and journal articles to find the right information for their assignments.

With a newly-minted Master’s degree in librarianship, I was hired full-time as the science specialist for Seattle Pacific College way back in 1974 when bell-bottom pants and paisley shirts for guys with long hair and side-burns were all the rage.  I’ve worked at Seattle Pacific ever since, including a decade in library administration, first as an associate director and then as the University Librarian who helped design and build the present brick building we now call our campus library.

So, as old-timers like me tend to say, I’ve seen it all. Over the past 48 years I’ve watched and experienced the ways we’ve changed going about collecting and storing data. At first card catalogs, vertical files, flat files, hanging files, print periodical indexes and the Dewey Decimal System were used to organize and locate books, encyclopedias, newspapers, magazines, journals, micro-cards, microfiche, microfilm, filmstrips, 16mm films, 8mm film loops, LP records, and audiocassettes back in the 70s for Seattle Pacific. Then came online computerized library cataloging systems, dial-up DIALOG subject databases, desk-top computers, email, the world wide web, CD-ROM databases, videocassettes and CDs. Finally, DVDs replaced videocassettes, the Library of Congress replaced the Dewey Decimal System, and many forms of storing data have morphed into internet databases with e-books, full-text, PDF, and HTML documents, all facilitated via laptops and iPads. Instead of access just to our collection, we now belong to a consortium of academic libraries that shares collections, and together we offer a demand driven acquisitions program that provides specific e-books when patrons want them.

That’s what you see when you walk into the library or go online these days, but what I’ll miss most when I retire are the many ways I’ve had a chance to help people both find the information they need and teach them how to find it in better ways. While at SPU I’ve worked with most segments of the community, but for the past 17 years I’ve focused on serving both students and faculty as a liaison librarian. I’ve found helping people learn to be very rewarding.

For me these professional interactions have been enhanced through a time-worn truism. Walking a mile in the other’s shoes by also being a classroom teacher in Biology, a library administrator, a chair of faculty governance, and even a student in an introductory Spanish language class has allowed me to experience SPU from varied perspectives. And, in so doing, has helped make me a better librarian.

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