Tag: Library

Library director hopes for increased student interest after improvements

By Desiree Lopez

During the summer, improvements have been made to the Library on the Levelland campus of South Plains College in hopes of increasing student interest.

The Library has new furniture throughout the first floor, such as movable tables and chairs, white boards, and charging stations.

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The Library on the Levelland campus has added comfortable
and functional seating to the first floor to make it more inviting
to students. DESIREE LOPEZ/PLAINSMAN PRESS

“We’re trying to bring students in from all different parts of campus and make it a place where students want to come and hang out between classes,” said Mark Gottschalk, director of libraries at SPC, who adds that upgrades on the first floor are ongoing and there are plans to start renovating the second floor soon. 

The furniture is not the only new thing added to the Library. There are also a few new rules in place for the beginning of this semester. Students are now free to eat and talk with one another on the first floor only. 

IMG_0348“We want you to come in here and hang out with your friends, and have a burger or whatever you want to do,” said Gottschalk, “and then go upstairs if you need quiet.”

 The first floor of the Library is meant to be a place where students can hang out with one another in a comfortable setting. Meanwhile, the second floor is reserved for those who want to study in a more quiet environment.

“Everything we’re trying to do as a department is to make it a space where students want to be and make it a campus destination,” says Gottschalk. 

Suggestions are welcomed for how to make the Library a more student-friendly environment. 

“We’re working with more students this year to figure out what else they would like to see,” says Gottschalk, “and then figure out how we can keep the momentum up by changing it to what you guys might like.” 

IMG_0350Students are free to adjust the new furniture in a way that is comfortable for them. 

“We’re kind of watching how furniture moves around, and if you guys use it differently, then we’ll just shift and adjust,” explains Gottschalk. 

Library staff have been working to make the Library a welcoming environment for all students and hope to attract more students to visit. 

An event for students called ‘Grocery Bingo’ recently was held at the Library, which is open to hosting any campus or student group meetings and events. In October, the Library will be hosting an author event for Stephen Sanders, an English instructor at SPC, who published his first book last year. The library plans to hold more events for students in the near future in hopes of making it a more social place and open space for students.IMG_0356

Plans are still in the works for the upgrading of the first floor, with work to start soon on the second floor and the lobby. All furniture that was not repurposed was donated to Levelland Christian School. 

The Library is open from 7:45 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, as well as from 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Informative talk recognizes African American entrepreneur

Sarah Breedlove created specialized hair products for African American hair and was one of the first American women to become a self-made millionaire in the early 1900s.

Breedlove, also known as Madam C.J. Walker, was featured because of her accomplishments during a presentation by Dr. Corye Beene, professor of history, on Feb. 22 at the Library on the South Plains College in Levelland.

In 1976, Black History Month became a national observance under President Gerald Ford, and the idea came from Dr. Carter G. Woodson.

Dr. Woodson was the son of former slaves. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1907, before receiving his PhD from Harvard University in 1912. While he was studying American History in college, he noticed there was no information being taught to students on the topic of Black history in the textbooks. His goal was to try to expose Americans to what African Americans have done for the United States.

Black History Month is celebrated in February because Feb. 12 is President Abraham IMG_0354Lincoln’s birthday, and Feb. 14 is the accepted birthday of Frederick Douglass. It is also celebrated for W.E.B. Du Bois, one of the co-founders of the The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), who was born on Feb. 23. In February of 1870, the 15th Amendment to the Constitution was passed, which granted African American men the right to vote.

This year, the Library on the Levelland campus held its first Black History Month event. It was the second year they put up a display for students and the community to see.

“This is the second year that I have been here to do a Black History Month display,” says Jessica Miesner, the public services librarian. “When I was thinking about doing another one, I was not sure if we were going to be able to get it done. But then I heard that Professor Corye Beene had a talk about Madam C.J. Walker.”

Christina Bearden-White, the assistant professor of history, reached out to Miesner, telling her about Professor Beene’s talk. From there, it became a focal point for the Library’s first Black History Month Event.

“Jim Crow was a terrible time in history, but African Americans still did things of significance,” said Dr. Beene. “During that time, they didn’t say ‘I am just the victim,’ or ‘The things happening around me are out of my control.’ But instead they made do with what they had and persevered, and that is what Madam C.J. Walker did.”

Dr. Beene explained that because of Walker’s hard work of leading a company and training thousands of sales agents, she was able to give other women the opportunity to support themselves during one of the hardest times in American history.

“Madam C.J. Walker was living the real American dream,” said Dr. Beene. “She started off very poor, and she had a problem and tried to solve it. Her problem was her hair started falling out, and she wanted to help other women with the same problem look and feel better about themselves.”

During the talk, Dr. Beene discussed how Walker moved several times throughout her life to keep her business alive. Walker was also a risk taker, like many successful entrepreneurs today take risks to help their businesses grow. Lastly, Dr. Beene talked about how Walker was a marketing genius of her time and the tactics she used to become popular in the advertising business.

“For the event, we had 60 people turn out,” said Miesner. “I was expecting close to 30. Professor Beene said her students would be coming for extra credit, but we had a lot of professors and students show up to the event.”

Miesner stated that they would like to host another Black History Month Event next year, especially now that she knows there is such a high demand for the event and saw the positive outcomes.

“We were just overwhelmed with how many people had come to the event,” said Miesner. “It was wonderful. For a Friday morning, it was a very active day and a lot of people stayed after to do the activities we had set out. It was exciting for us.”

In addition to the talk by Dr. Beene, there were Black History Trivia Cards on display for students to use, along with coloring pages for students to use after the talk was finished.

For those who were unable to attend the event, the live stream can be viewed at https://portal.stretchinternet.com/spcadmin/

New library director plans for customer service improvement

Mark Gottschalk did not hesitate to rush back to South Plains College when he heard the library director position was available.

Gottschalk worked at SPC’s Library on the Levelland campus for four years after arriving in 2013. He left during the summer of 2017 to take a Library Director position at Lubbock Christian University. When the Library Director position opened up at SPC, Gottschalk jumped at the opportunity to return.

“The best part of the job,” Gottschalk explained, “is being back at SPC and all the same old friends.”

He said that they have a lot of work to do at the Library, but that it is all good work and they are going to get it done.

“I have an idea of what we do really well and what we need to do to always strive to get better,” said Gottschalk, “and it’s not necessarily things that we do bad; You can always get better in certain areas.”

One example he gave was becoming better at customer service, which is one of the reasons why Gottschalk said he will be working behind a desk like a regular Librarian. He went on explaining why he will be behind a desk every once in a while, saying, “to know what you guys as students need, and the best way to get that is to actually be working with you guys and for you guys. I think it’s important.” Gottschalk said he plans to balance his work between the administrative work and being behind a desk, “so that I can see firsthand how maybe we could change something. If I’m getting the same question over and over again, then we need to figure out how to help you guys find that question or the answer to that.”

Gottschalk also said they are looking at making some changes, but that it was a little too early to say what those changes will be.

“I would say that any changes we make will be about making the Library more accessible for students,” he said. “Both so they can succeed academically and so it can kind of continue to grow as a social place on campus.”

Gottschalk grew up mostly in the northern Untitled States.

“My family is from the state of Washington in the Pacific Northwest,” he explained. “Besides that, I grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts for six or seven years when I was young.”

Gottschalk started moving south when he attended a couple of colleges. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Washington State University and a Master of Library and Information Science Degree from San Jose State University. Gottschalk says that he changed his major from history to library and information science when he realized he did not want to be a history grad student.

“I had a friend that was like, ‘You’d be a good fit in the library,’ and they got me a job at the academic library,” he said.

After a couple of years working in the Library, he decided to change his career.

“When I finished my master’s,” Gottschalk said, “I moved to Charleston, South Carolina.”

He figured he would just go live where he could get a job in libraries and gain a lot of experience. He also wanted to move to a place where he might not ever live.

“When it was time to get my next step in my career, I called up my old boss, who’s the retired director here, Mr Jim Belcher,” said Gottschalk.

He asked Belcher if there were any job openings in Texas, because he thought Texas was a great place to live. Belcher told him that they might have an opening in a few months, “so that’s kind of how I ended up out here in West Texas.

In his free time, Gottschalk helps out with the women’s basketball team as a volunteer coach, working with the post players. He also likes to read, travel into the mountains of New Mexico with his dog and girlfriend, and watch basketball.  Gottschalk says that he does not have a favorite team currently, but he has been watching teams with good coaches to try to understand what they are doing. “I’ve been watching the Celtics, because I really like Brad Stevens,” said Gottschalk, “and the Milwaukee Bucks, because their head coach, Mike Budenholzer, does some really interesting things.”

Gottschalk said that working in a library was not his planned career, and he sort of stumbled into it. But he really enjoys it and is happy to be back at the SPC Library.

Librarian enjoys helping students succeed

by STACY JOHNSON//Editorial Assistant

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Mark Gottschalk positively impacts the academic and professional lives of countless people in his role as public services librarian at South Plains College.

Gottschalk has worked on the Levelland campus for four years.  A Washington state native, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Washington State University.  He then went on to earn a Master of Library and Information Science degree from San Jose State University.  After he graduated, he began his career in South Carolina as a young adult services librarian at a public library in Charleston before coming to Levelland.

Library science couples his desire to help others accomplish their goals with his passion for conducting research.

“I was a history major, and I liked the research,” says Gottschalk, “but my first job was at a Boys & Girls Club, and I really liked helping people.  I got a lot of satisfaction, so it was kind of a good combination of helping people every day and helping people realize their dreams, and also getting to do some research still.”

His time is divided equally between providing reference services at the information desk, and managing and supervising the circulation desk.  He assists students, faculty, and community members with research projects, sourcing materials, finding books, and other functions of the library.

He also teaches information literacy classes, which are interactive tours showcasing the library’s offerings so that students have a full picture of the options and resources available to them.  Instructors utilize the tours for their classes, letting Gottschalk and other experts at the library teach their students how to write citations and use the library’s resources to get started with their coursework.

“I just encourage them to come use the space however they want to,” he says.  “I’d rather have somebody in here, even if it’s just to rent DVDs or to use the computer for Facebook, because eventually they’re going to have a question and at least they know where we are.”

Gottschalk explains that he feels libraries are important community spaces.

“I spend a lot of time trying to get out in the campus community and talk to students and faculty members about what the library can do for them,” he says, “because I think it’s important to kind of have our fingers on the pulse of what our students need and what our faculty members need.”

According to Gottschalk, his favorite thing about working in the library is watching students succeed.

“That’s the motto here at South Plains: ‘dreams precede realities,’” says Gottschalk.  “Trying to help people get to those realities by showing them ways to be successful, even if it’s something simple like showing them how to do a citation, or how to find a book.”

As chairperson for the Professional Development Committee, he is dedicated to helping people achieve those dreams.  He says the most personally rewarding part of his job is watching student workers grow as employees and individuals, and then being able to help them with their careers after they leave SPC.

He expresses gratitude for the professional opportunities that working at the library offers him.  He is an active member of the Texas Library Association and says the supportive environment at SPC “has led to a great network of friends and librarians throughout Texas that helps me do my job better.”

When he isn’t working, Gottschalk enjoys hiking and exploring historical sites.  He says that some of the aspects he appreciates most about the area are the geological features of the Southwest.

“All of the cool hidden geology, like Carlsbad Caverns, and going up into the mountains in New Mexico,” he says.  “I think there’s a lot more than people think there is.”

As a former basketball player for University of California at Irvine, he likes watching and discussing sports—particularly basketball and hockey.

He also enjoys reading in his spare time.  His favorite author is Spanish novelist Carlos Ruiz Zafón, who penned “The Cemetery of Forgotten Books,” a series that Gottschalk describes as vivid fiction that progresses like a movie.  He notes that the books can be read in any order without losing context or meaning.

Gottschalk describes himself as “the tall dude,” and welcomes students to come to the library and talk to him if they need help with anything on campus.

“I can’t help you if you don’t ask me a question,” he says, “so any question you have, come see us.”

[Photo by JORDAN PATTERSON/PLAINSMAN PRESS]