The fall semester is underway, and Falvey’s focus has once again turned to tending to the immediate needs of the University community it serves. However, this pursuit requires a balance of day-to-day tasks with visionary aspirations. I think Falvey is uniquely and importantly placed at the juncture of the prosaic and the inspirational.
We affirm the basis of what a university library is: a common place where information is made publically accessible to scholars. Increasingly this role has included gaining and granting access to many forms of scholarship available online, while maintaining a commitment to the enduring technology of the book as a means of sharing and discovering knowledge. What’s new is that the Library at Villanova is recognized as an anchor institution engaged in its community. In a community of teachers and learners, this posture means we are moving beyond meeting only basic library research needs. Because the nature of higher education is changing, Falvey is working very hard to continually embrace knowledge generation, in addition to data curation and access.
Knowledge generation on a university campus is happening everywhere you look. Ubiquitous micro and mobile devices for gathering, analyzing and sharing data have made it possible for professors and students to continue the educational enterprise well beyond the classroom and study hall. Falvey has, and will have, traditional learning spaces and areas for quiet study, but it will also provide anarchic spaces that promote interaction, collaboration and growth. The library is becoming more and more a laboratory and a makerspace, and Falvey is committed to this new educational enterprise. It is in keeping with the best a twenty-first century university has to offer to its community of scholars.
Two examples of the ongoing transformation of Falvey are the adding of an editorial suite for the premier journal in feminist philosophy, Hypatia, which is now lead by a Villanova faculty member, and the public restoration of a hidden seventeenth-century masterpiece in the Falvey Hall (aka Old Falvey) reading room.
The Hypatia editorial suite will be an active space, located on Falvey’s first floor and visible to students, in which seminars and workshops on academic journal publishing can occur. It may even be shared with other top scholarly journals, such as The Japanese Political Economy. It is momentous that the editorship of these very significant interdisciplinary publications is going to Villanova faculty, but almost just as important is the invitation Falvey is making to allow library users see the productivity of a scholarly community happening in a public space like the Library.
The other example is the in-situ conservation of Pietro da Cortona’s painting Triumph of David. Faculty from the departments of chemistry and history and others will be working with the conservation team. The Library intends to open the Falvey Hall reading room for quiet study, but from that area the restoration of the painting will be visible. Falvey is also collaborating with many entities on campus to document the conservation process, from its very technical scientific aspects to its progress over time. This initiative is supported by the University administration; the Office of the Vice-President for Academic Affairs specifically. It is yet another instance where the focus of the Library on the multi- and trans-disciplinary life of our vibrant University can contribute to the intellectual climate of campus.
Including these examples, Falvey has, for a library at an institution of our size, a stunning number of collaborative projects both internally and externally. Collaboration is also going to be key hallmark of the academic library of the future, which means Falvey has already positioned itself for a bright future. We will continue to expand the portfolio of partnerships we are engaged in, while strengthening the areas where we already have them. By partnerships, I mean mutually beneficial collaboration that can exist between and among Villanova and a variety of external partners, shepherded by Falvey staff; Falvey and other segments of the University; and library teams and groups. Falvey will continue to get involved and invested in these kinds of partnerships that enhance the scholarly community locally.
Darren Poley is the interim library director and can be reached by email or by phone at 610-519-4290.