In addition to the education of our students and the research of our faculty and staff, a big part of UNCG’s mission is serving the people of the state of North Carolina and beyond. The University Libraries play a major role in that service. A recent request for a report on our community engagement gave us a chance to look back on the service of the past year, including some areas that might not always be noticed by the casual observer.
Many people may be aware of the programs and the activities offered by the Friends of the UNCG Libraries, which are advertised especially to our members and are generally open to the public. In the period since the last school year began, we hosted 7 author visits, 2 lectures, 5 book discussions, 1 documentary film screening, and 3 signature events:
• our Friends of the UNCG Libraries annual dinner (featuring Kathy Reichs in 2015),
• our Women Veterans Historical Project luncheon (featuring a panel about writing and veterans in 2014) , and
• our Children’s Book Author and Storyteller event (with Doug Elliott in 2014).
Altogether, these public programs alone brought more than 2000 persons in touch with the University Libraries at UNCG.
Less visible, perhaps, were the 20 special classes offered by the Libraries to 450 members of the public, including 9 classes for K-12 students, such as the in-depth workshops for area AP, IB and Middle College students. Many of the special classes were offered off-campus. We also conducted workshops on our innovative Makerspace project, for example, in Charlotte, Asheville, Raleigh and Wilmington. Programs about our special collections were held at the Well Spring and Pennybyrn retirement communities, and in Asheville, High Point, Elizabethtown, Clayton, and Oxford, NC. Special collection programming covered collections, University history, and digital collections.
We believe that the improvement of the practice of librarianship is made possible, in part, by well-conceived presentations and papers that our librarians and staff members have offered at professional and community conferences. Adding those up during the past year, we found that members of the University Libraries’ faculty and staff presented or wrote 236 papers, books, book chapters, presentations and other professional research products. We also reported 95 professional service activities, and 28 community service activities provided based on our professional expertise.
Our Special Collections and University Archives Department mounted 40 exhibits last year, including those at the NC Writers Conference and the state DAR conference in Raleigh, as well as at Reunion Weekend and in Jackson Library itself.
An important part of our community engagement is communicating about what we do and making the public aware of our services and resources. We do this, in part, with a number of blogs aimed mostly at the public, which featured 237 posts made during the past year. Choosing a sampling of these posts, Library Columns reaches all of the members of the Friends of the UNCG Libraries every month, in addition to reaching our campus audience. Our social media presence includes active Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and Twitter accounts, with the Special Collections and University Archives Tumblr account having 5945 followers and its Twitter account 568.
We had more than 8000 non-university borrowers of our library resources, including Friends of the UNCG Libraries members, area educators and college students not enrolled at UNCG, who collectively borrowed 9976 library materials during the past year.
The Carolina Consortium, founded by UNCG in 2005 with three deals serving 39 libraries, continues to save the academic and public libraries of the state and our SC neighbors more than 300 million dollars per year through cooperative purchasing agreements, spread among the 180 libraries who now participate. More than 130 persons recently attended the Carolina Consortium’s annual meeting here at UNCG to assess their cooperative buying agreements and plan for the future.
The NC DOCKS program, also developed by the University Libraries at UNCG, is now a cooperative effort to make the scholarly output of the University of North Carolina system more available to the world. Current institutional participants include Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro, UNC Pembroke, UNC Wilmington, and Western Carolina University. NC DOCKS includes many full text articles, audio recordings, dissertations, and other formats. All materials are indexed by Google and freely available to scholars and researchers world-wide. In the past year, UNCG alone made 680 such research products available, and the website received 2.7 million hits for UNCG materials.
From public programs and borrowing of library materials to saving the state money and increasing access to UNCG’s scholarly products, the University Libraries are heavily engaged in serving our community and state.