Chadron State College
Chadron State College

Library director: We are 'information navigators'

February 26, 2013

Bev Russell
Bev Russell

Bev Russell, interim library director, sees herself and other CSC library staff members as “information navigators”. Russell has three goals she wants to accomplish before her contract at the Reta E. King library ends June 30. First, she wants to make the learning commons a reality both in the building and online.

“Students should be able to study and relax in the same space. When I was a grad student on another campus, I remember having to pick up and go somewhere else for snacks or gathering with others. My vision is that the library will be packed.” Part of this goal is a completed IT help desk this spring or summer and a coffee shop open for business by this fall.

Secondly, an assessment will be conducted by the Association of College and Research Libraries. The ACRL report will be used by the library staff to formulate their strategic plan.

Russell’s third goal is to facilitate the Chadron State strategies around Open Education Resources. OER includes public domain textbooks and other curriculum aids. “We really are information navigators. The number of books in the library is shrinking but we will manage the remaining collection. The future is in digital resources and that is what we will manage and where the growth will be,” she said. See related story.

Other ongoing renovations include moving the curriculum library to the current computer lab and dispersing the computers from the lab throughout the building in pods of four around the pillars in the library. Regarding the faculty Teaching and Learning Center relocation to the library and other redesign plans for the interior, Russell said, “Everything else is in a state of flux.”

She learned of the CSC position while attending a conference in Kansas City. “My daughter, Jennifer, graduated from CSC in 1998 and I knew the former librarians. I am excited about the possibilities of expanded services - the opportunities to serve the students in new and different ways. I want to be a facilitator and create something wonderful for the college” she said.

Russell retired in December of 2011 after 12 years as the Director of the Lied Scottsbluff Public Library. She led a successful fundraising campaign which raised over $2 million for the renovation and expansion of the library. She worked closely with the architects and general contractor to oversee the completion of the construction project. From that experience she learned that “Deadlines are fluid and it helps to have patience.”

As the Star-Herald 2012 Citizen of Year, Russell felt tremendously honored. I could think of all the others who deserved it more. It was an overwhelming and unexpected award,” she said. Russell started writing a column in the Star-Herald to promote fundraising for the library renovation and 9,000 square-foot expansion. She developed quite a following over six and a half years. Her husband, Roger, became the subject of some columns and told their friends, “I have to read her columns out of self-defense.”

Russell and her husband have three adult children and six grandchildren. In addition to her interim position at CSC, she pastors the Melbeta United Methodist Church in Melbeta, Neb. Like many career librarians, she does plan to write a book when she is fully retired. It will feature Panhandle buildings of yesteryear now standing in various states of disrepair. She hopes to find a photographer to document the structures about which she intends to write.

—Tena L. Cook, Interim Marketing Coordinator