Pittsburg State Axe Library hosted the annual Gene Degruson Memorial Lecture discussing research and publishing in the age of internet. Every year, Axe Library honors the passing of scholar, writer, editor, and custodian of the special collection’s keeper at the library. Since his passing in 1997, lectures have been held in his honor.
This year’s lecture took place on Tuesday, Oct. 29. The speaker for this year’s lecture was Casie Hermansson, English professor and author.
In her lecture, Hermansson discussed the changes of publishing and sourcing research in the age of the internet and how it has played into her education and even the education of students today. Some of the changes even being from the fast pace of today’s libraries.
“When I was in New Zealand as an undergraduate in the late 1980s, it could take up to 6 months to get an article interlibrary loaned from overseas which then arrived by post,” Hermansson said.
Hermansson also discussed the preservation of books and papers in rare book libraries and her experience in them while traveling in her graduate studies years. In these libraries, the books were taken care of by professional caretakers at the library. The care of the books was especially important for those looking at the materials, even down to the point of what could be taken into the library itself.
“No pens are allowed near or even in a rare book library,” Hermansson said. “Much like liquids for air travel, you can only take in a clear plastic bag containing pencils.”
In Finland, Hermansson discussed some of the changing ways she would teach, especially with her time in Finland regarding interactive learning sourcing for classroom settings.
“I think there has been a real shift in acknowledging a kind of visual literacy and that hearing something that you’re being told orally is not enough,” Hermansson said. “I mean that’s not how everyone learns, that’s not how I best remember either. So, I think because of it being 2019, students are very visually acute and have an appetite for visual stimulation.”
Hermansson said the tools are now available and being able to quickly put visuals together via the internet with pictures, PowerPoints, and images is high beneficial.
Hermansson also touched on the issues and changes being made with special collections and rare book libraries even in 2019.
“I think access is still an issue… because, although it’s 2019, a lot of handwritten artifacts are still in drawers and boxes that have been carefully labeled and being kept in climate-controlled environments, but they aren’t actually being seen by anybody,” Hermansson said. “There’s a process underway. Libraries are scanning and making things available online so that things can be seen and used by more people.”
She also said the changing of these libraries would shift the roles of the employees in these places on continuing to preserve these rare and special collections, and in the future the process being made to preserve files and collections if the use of paper stops.