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Falvey Welcomes its New Interim Director


Robert DeVos, PhD, associate vice president for instructional analysis, professor, mathematics and statistics, became Falvey Memorial Library’s new interim director this summer. He has accepted this new role in addition to his existing responsibilities with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Dr. DeVos agreed to an interview to discuss his new position.

GD (Gerald Dierkes)—Why did you take on the role of interim library director? 

RD—I have worked closely with [Rev. Kail C. Ellis, PhD, OSA, vice president for academic affairs, Department of Political Science] since 1997 as associate dean when he was the dean and again for the last 3 years as associate vice president and he as the VPAA. He asked me to take on the additional responsibility and I accepted it.

GDWhat do you consider the library director’s role/purpose at Falvey Memorial Library?

RD—I can only give you my perspective. Anyone in an administrative position has the responsibility of dealing with resources. These resources can be people, money, equipment, etcetera. The library director’s position is to administer the resources given to the Library. These involve trying to make good decisions:

  • On hiring (There are several vacancies, and I felt strongly that we should hire permanent staff in the non-librarian positions. A new director might change how the Library functions with regard to librarians, but the non-librarian staff will be needed independent of a new direction for the Library);
  • On the use of current staff;
  • On space allocations (possible change in some office space); and
  • On the use of the budget.

GDWhat do you find most exciting about this job? Why?

RD—I have had many roles at VU and enjoy the challenge of learning something new. In all of my previous roles, I have found that when I leave a position, I leave with having made some new friends. I look forward to that happening here.

GDWhat about the Library surprised you when you started working here?

RD—The many different roles of the librarians—I did not know much about the large educational role that they carry. I also was surprised as to the many events run by the Library.

GDWhat do you consider the Library’s role/purpose at VU? What do you think are the major issues facing the Library today? 

RD—I will mention a few major issues that I see.
1. Given the changes in administration, the morale is low. This is
…..difficult to change, but I hope by being open and available we
…..can move forward.
2. Structure of the staff: When the new director is appointed, that
…..person will probably reorganize. I am trying to make things work
…..and will avoid a reorganization since we can’t keep changing.
3. Resources: With budgets being cut or not rising at the same level
… costs, journals, etc. need to be cut. Space is always a problem.
4. OLE [Open Library Environment]: Many staff want to implement
…..[OLE] next summer, but there are also a large number who are
…..saying let’s wait. I am having difficulty in knowing the best path.

GDWhat is an area of improvement you would like to make in the Library?

RD—Ask me this in a few months.

GDWhat role does/will the Library have in Villanova University’s Strategic plan, for example, to become a national research university?

RD—One cannot have quality programs without journals, data bases and books. These costs need to be built into the budget as programs are added. Whenever any new degree is proposed, the library director does get to comment. That person should make sure these costs are added.

Although the library staff knows that at some point a new, permanent library director will be hired, it’s been challenging not knowing who or when, or what changes to the Library that person will make. It helps to have an interim library director who recognizes and understands this challenge. The library staff is grateful for Dr. DeVos, his leadership and his support.

Gerald info deskArticle by Gerald Dierkes, senior copy-editor for the Communication and Service Promotion team and a liaison to the Department of Theater.


Continuum: Collections and Access Make Falvey Distinctive


In an era when the uniqueness of a library’s collections are distinguished by not only what books it has in the stacks but also what it has in terms of special and digital collections, it is interesting to note a few exceptional examples of rare and unique items that are of interest to scholars: in this case, Latin and Irish manuscripts.

Recently Kenneth B. Steinhauser, PhD, a professor in the Department of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University published a survey of Latin medieval and Renaissance manuscripts he studied at Villanova University. He catalogs the thirteen manuscripts in Falvey Memorial Library and the two in the Augustinian Historical Institute collection. Dr. Steinhauser states in his published article on the subject, “In summation, the manuscript collection at Villanova University emphasizes the Augustinian tradition, specifically works of Augustine himself, Augustinian liturgical material and writings of medieval Augustinian theologians.” See Manuscripta 57.2 (2013): 205-77 (DOI 10.1484/j.MSS.1.103704).

Irish history and heritage is another unique focus of our special collections. A Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in Villanova University, Pennsylvania by William J. Mahon was published by the School of Celtic Studies, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 2007.

Villanova University’s Special Collections and Digital Library assembles, presents and preserves physical and digital collections that support teaching and research of the campus community and the global network of scholarship; the Rare Book Room houses over 15,000 rare and unique physical documents and artifacts requiring special handling and preservation ranging from medieval manuscripts to early popular American newspapers, while online over 20,000 items are available. The historical record of Villanova University is available in the University Archives, which is also in Falvey.

The physical library collection has more than 500,000 printed volumes, including books and historical runs of major academic journals. Web-accessible resources include over two hundred general and discipline-specific research databases, approximately ten thousand full text electronic journals, and extensive microfilm and audiovisual collections. Online collections also include almost 650,000 digital volumes encompassing the corpus of English-language books from the earliest days of the movable type printing press through scholarly literature of the early twenty-first century. Beyond Villanova’s collection, the regional E-ZBorrow system in which Falvey participates provides one-stop searching and access to over 35 million books from 50 college and university libraries in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and West Virginia. In addition, materials can be requested from libraries world-wide through Inter-Library Loan. See



Continuum: Summer is a Chance to Get Things Done


Darren Poley, Interim Library Director

Of course the academic year is exciting and, at times, intense: librarians aiding students and faculty in their research, patrons accessing Falvey’s collections and borrowing materials, the campus community utilizing the services of the Learning Commons and participating in the many meetings and events held in the Library, and so much more (see student satisfaction survey results). Falvey has worked hard to transform itself into a center for intellectual and cultural engagement while remaining a location for individual study and collaborative learning, and this aim does not stop in the summer.

So what do we do when most students have vacated the campus for the summer months? While cleaning and repairs are ongoing efforts, the summer allows us to make large-scale improvements to the facility. I would just like to highlight a few that are interconnected.

CAVE—Last fall the University received a grant from the National Science Foundation to construct a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment that will foster and promote tele-immersive teaching and research using 3D virtual reality technology. The CAVE will be installed in a large classroom in Falvey Hall, adjacent to the Library. Because this change will displace some academic space, Falvey Memorial Library has been empowered to move forward on its overall improvement plan to accommodate this.

University Archives—The University Archives is moving to its new home on Falvey’s basement level, giving it more space including compact storage.

New Classroom—The University can then revive the room where the University Archives have been for many years. A new classroom will be put into that space on Falvey’s fourth floor.

To minimize disruption, our plan is to complete these projects during the summer when far fewer folks are on campus. We look forward to providing improved facilities to our students when they return for the fall semester.



Continuum: Enhance What You Get Out of College and What You Do When You Get Out of College


Darren Poley, Interim Library Director

The Library is a natural place to conduct intellectual exploration. It has a labyrinth of book stacks; computer enabled areas and hotspots; audio, video, and even microform materials. It has noisy gathering spaces: some organized for co-curricular activity, such as ACS approved event programming, and others where students collaborate and discuss in an anarchic way. Falvey is not a shushing library, but it does offer spaces for quiet study. Falvey has places to nourish the mind, the body and, it is hoped, even the spirit.

Lent is a time for renewal and Easter a time for regeneration. And when the University community returns from the holiday weekend—which I hope is filled with both times for reflection as well as times for fellowship and fun—I hope folks know they are welcome to come to the Library to prepare for the end of the academic year.

Photo by Frank Klassner

Photo by Frank Klassner

For some it will be a time to prepare for being graduated and going into the world as alums holistically prepared by the Villanova educational experience. It has been said in various ways, and I think it holds true: Education is about more than learning to make a living. Rather, education should be about learning to make a life worth living. It is hoped that Falvey and library explorations have enriched the Villanova experience for students and the campus community by its support of the enterprise of a liberal education. That is, one distinguished by the freedom to be imaginative and curious as much as analytical and fact-driven. Such an education produces, in addition to a fulfilling vocation and career, great thinkers and presenters of ideas who pursue truth, goodness, and beauty.

For those returning after the long Easter weekend—whether you are graduating or will have yet more exploring to do next year—please keep in mind Falvey extends both electronic and human guides that are here to help you along your educational journey. Online, we have subject guides and more. These virtual guides enable you to more easily navigate databases and full-text collections. You may also want a human guide, either to help you use our online tools or to orient you to Falvey’s physical collections. For support, contact a librarian. If you need a specialist for subject-specific library research, make an appointment with a liaison librarian by reaching out to the subject-specific liaison team that matches your research needs.

Everyone at Falvey is dedicated to aiding our students’ intellectual explorations, and I hope you find the Library complements your Villanova educational experience.



Continuum: Falvey is the Place to Be

DarrenWith hints of spring in the air, I hope the Villanova community has been faring well during the recent severe winter weather. I need to inform you about a schedule change and a noteworthy event.

In response to the University’s plan to schedule make-up classes on Sundays as compensation for snow days, Falvey is offering expanded hours. The Library will be open two hours earlier (including collection access and desk services) on the following Sundays: March 16, March 23, March 30, April 6, April 13, April 27 and May 4—in other words, from 10 a.m. to midnight on the Sundays for rescheduled classes and for the last week of exams. The library’s first-floor lounge and Falvey Hall (aka Old Falvey), as places to study, are still Wildcard accessible 24/7.

Despite the weather’s disruption to classes, event programming in Falvey has not been hindered. We have been the venue for 62 events and meetings in the spring semester so far. It looks as though the Library will have hosted or sponsored close to 200 again this academic year.

One library event that is on track for at the end of the semester is the annual Falvey Scholar Awards.

Falvey Memorial Library is now gathering Falvey-Scholars-Award nominations from faculty members who work with undergraduates on a senior thesis or capstone project. The individuals or teams of Villanova seniors who are accomplishing the most outstanding undergraduate research should be nominated.

The faculty-nomination deadline is April 4. We also welcome nominations before the April 4 deadline.

For the link to the nomination page and more information about the Falvey Scholars Award, go to the Library’s Falvey Scholars Webpage.

Nominated students or teams will be invited to apply for the award. Winners will be chosen from the pool of nominated undergraduate seniors who apply. Winners will be invited to present their research at the Falvey Scholars Award event, part of a weeklong celebration of outstanding Villanova research.

Falvey Scholars Event:

Date: Friday, April 25

Time: 9 a.m.-12 noon

Location: Falvey Memorial Library


Continuum: Building on Our Success

Darren2014 will be a year for Falvey to build on its successes. We are a Library recognized nationally for excellence in many different areas, and internationally for innovative thinking and action.

When I look around our Library, I see champions. When I look at the teams and groups around the Library, both formal and informal, I see collaborative efforts for the common good which are willing to experiment and nurture new ideas. When I think about Falvey, I see a Library that has already achieved greatness by balancing risk with return on investment. When I talk to folks outside the Library, I hear amazement. They desire to emulate the things we have done if they are at other academic libraries, and they desire to work with us on big ideas in support of the University’s strategic goals if they are members of Villanova’s community. It is a proven fact: we are a great Library when we work together.FOIGHTACRL In 2013, for example, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) presented the Excellence in Academic Libraries Award in the university category to Falvey Memorial Library (See more about the award here.)

I want Falvey to build on its successes, and there are many. I will measure my own success as interim director based on the success of everyone at Falvey, individually and collectively. I cannot control or invent our success. It is something we will achieve by continuing to do the things we already do well, and by building on our many accomplishments. Together we will accomplish the greatness we have only just begun to realize.



Continuum: Your Academic Library, both Active and Passive

DarrenThe answer to what an academic library is varies based on one’s need. I suggest, however, it must be both active and passive in providing services if it is to be relevant to its community. The needs of our university-community members constantly change: sometimes daily, even hourly. To be ready to meet the challenges this situation presents, the academic library should be a nimble yet stable institution. Active and nimble while remaining passive and stable is a pretty tough role. So what allows us to fulfill this role, and how is Falvey accomplishing this “all things to all people” model when it comes to providing services?

Falvey Library Mobile Website

What keeps an academic library active and nimble is looking to the immediate needs for which students and faculty turn to the library: access to data and assistance transforming data into information in the pursuit of knowledge. Current sources, many of them instantaneous, can give anyone access to data by means of devices that can fit in your backpack or even your pocket. Knowing how to locate relevant data, sift through results, and evaluate the academic appropriateness of what is discovered is the true hurdle. While technological facility and some degree of discovery sophistication are almost innate among today’s students, real information literacy is the key for unlocking data in an effort to turn it into knowledge.

An essential element of this process is the librarian, who actively reaches out to scholars in an effort to guide and instruct, helping them successfully migrate from data seeker to knowledge worker. The pedagogy for information literacy, therefore, needs to be seamlessly combined with many different efforts at customer service. To achieve this end, the reference-books area on Falvey’s second floor is being reconfigured into a research service center to strengthen the library’s customer-service presence on the Learning Commons street. This improvement is precisely the kind of service provision outreach that helps students find their way to advanced library research assistance and the librarians with subject expertise.

This change is active, too, in that it results from a data driven decision to offer a concierge-like service. It is nimble in that Falvey as a facility is not so fixed that it is unable to adapt. In fact, the space which we are identifying as the research service center will convert to an area of mixed furniture for studying when it is not staffed. This capability results directly from a survey of library users, primarily undergraduate students. So the space passively waits to be made active by librarians reaching out to assist students, and students can inhabit the space for studying when it’s not active as a service center.

READING2 ROOM SUNNYAnother example of a passive space that becomes animated with activity is the Falvey Hall lobby and reading room. Recently, areas of Falvey Hall (aka “Old Falvey”) that for years had been unavailable to students have been re-opened for quiet study 24/7. The spaces now passively wait for university community members to use them for their intended purposes. The newly opened study lounge and reading room greatly increase the capacity for the Library to be the place on campus to study, anytime, day or night. Yet these stable venues are activated in that students use white boards in the Falvey Hall lobby to diagram and articulate, and in the reading room, long the hallmark of an academic library, they can participate as a spectator in the ongoing Baroque painting conservation campaign. Mere passive spaces again become lively and furtive for the transformation of data to information, and on into knowledge.

Falvey is poised to provide active library research assistance, and is active in providing passive yet engaging spaces around the clock. It is a blend of active and passive. This function is important for an academic library: to be active and responsive when it needs to be but also there when you need it, as it should be.





Darren Poley is the interim library director and can be reached by email or by phone at 610-519-4290.


Continuum: Partnerships Are a Goal of the Interim Director

DarrenThe 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. hypa 26-3 (2)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.


Continuum: The Library Director Welcomes You

DarrenWelcome class of 2017, and welcome back to everyone else. This academic year brings exciting improvements, services and events at your University Library. Several small renovation projects, for instance, are underway that we hope will both enhance your library experience and enable us to provide more creative spaces for living and learning at Falvey.

The addition of the Learning Commons in Falvey has been a wild success in terms of the numbers of students aided by the Learning Support Services office, the Mathematics Learning Resource Center, and the Villanova Writing Center. Please keep in mind the 2nd floor of Falvey is also where you find the Research Support Center, including librarians ready to help you with your library research and projects. Last academic year we also held a record number of events and programs in Falvey, something we take seriously as a library at the cross-roads of campus. Intellectual and cultural programming benefits learning, provides consciousness-raising variety to student life, and counts as co-curricular activities for current Villanova students.

Falvey provides access to over 700,000 volumes of published human knowledge, but we also see the Library as a laboratory where the University community can now access just as much virtually as it can physically. In fact, the library website and its discovery software, VuFind, provide 24 hour access to an equal number of digital volumes of material, and another 20,000 items in our Digital Library.

In addition to being a gateway for services, such as E-ZBorrow and Interlibrary Loan, Falvey’s website provides a “My Account” link. Your account is where you can see a list of the items you have borrowed, holds, requests, fines, and saved searches. “My Account” even lets you renew items. Subject, topic and course guides are also on the library website. The website conveniently provides access to the many databases and other web-accessible resources essential to scholarly searches for information.

Near Falvey’s main entrance is the access and information desk where you can get quick help or be referred to a subject specialist librarian. Students invariably find making an appointment with their personal librarian a valuable experience for conducting library research more efficiently. If you need assistance, there are email, chat and texting options for connecting with library staff. You are the community we serve. We are here to guide and assist you. Please don’t hesitate to contact the Library for all of your research support needs. We are conveniently located on the web, as well as at the heart of Villanova University’s campus.

You can always learn about what is happening at the Library by checking our Latest News and Upcoming Events sections. As the interim director of Falvey Memorial Library, I plan to write a monthly blog feature. Stay tuned for more from Falvey, an award-winning academic library of excellence. We are planning to enhance our offering of services, as well as spaces for study, interaction and engagement. It is going to be an exciting year!





Darren Poley is the interim library director and can be reached by email or by phone at 610-519-4290.


Some Thoughts on Library Storage in the Digital Age

Joe LuciaLibraries have always been expensive to operate. Acquiring, managing and storing large collections of print books and bound journals, done on any significant scale, have substantial associated costs. But one of the fuzzier aspects of cost analysis for a library has involved determining the ongoing, annual expense of keeping items in the “warehouse.”

Physical storage is not free. Shelf space has a measurable value, as do the associated support functions of climate control, lighting and inventory tracking. But those indirect costs have always been “below the line” for library operating and acquisitions budgets. Furthermore, physical collections have significant inertia in that they persist in place unless concerted action is taken to remove materials on a regular basis. The upper bound on any given physical collection is determined by square footage and linear feet of shelving in a library building and its associated auxiliary storage facilities.

In the digital world, libraries face an entirely different situation. Each year we license enormous amounts of digital information for academic purposes, much of it at great expense. (more…)



Last Modified: November 10, 2008

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