JSU Newswire
Jacksonville, Alabama

A Tribute to the
Bricks-and-Mortar Library

JACKSONVILLE -- April 10, 2002 -- Many young people incorrectly think that libraries are becoming outdated.

“Not a chance,” according to Jacksonville State University’s Dr. George Whitesel, professor and assistant librarian.

“Economic forces alone, such as copyright restrictions and the high cost of going electronic will keep traditional libraries in business,” says Dr. Whitesel. “More important, gaps exist in electronic offerings that only a visit to the library can fill. People seriously looking for reliable, quality information will have to keep a foot in both worlds.”

And Whitesel points out that there’s nothing like a friendly librarian when you run into trouble on a homework assignment or research project.

“The people of bricks-and-mortar libraries can and will sympathize with a student's burning desire to find something. A librarian's specialized knowledge can be quickly brought to bear on a patron’s research problem,” Whitesel says.

Librarians at JSU’s Houston Cole Library -- and at most any library you’ll ever enter -- try to teach people at every level how to find things.

Whitesel points out that, at JSU, John Bauer Graham schedules all of JSU’s library classes and teaches most English 101 sections to use the library catalog software program.

“This past fall the library bought new software, and returning students as well as new freshmen had to learn it. There is always something new, and John has been very busy,” Whitesel said.

Harry Nuttall often works with teachers in the public schools. When a library module is taught, a public school teacher may invite Nuttall to come to the classroom and demonstrate the kinds of skills needed in college. Harry’s lecture may be followed by a class assignment which requires research in a library larger than the one the students are familiar with. Often they come to Houston Cole Library to do that assignment. “While in our library, they get to explore the environment of a large library. This experience makes college work much easier,” Whitesel said.

Adults also find that there’s no substitute for a bricks-and-mortar library. According to Whitesel, “People enjoy learning about the history of the place they live. Consequently, JSU’s history floor is often populated with genealogists looking up their family's ancestors. They want to know things like: Where did they live and what did they own? Did they vote? What were the names of their children?”

Linda Cain, JSU’s history subject specialist, is trained in this kind of research. She can tell people about the Alabama materials on the third floor and the special materials on the tenth floor in the rare books room, known as The Alabama Gallery.

Whitesel says, “With its pillars, glass walls, and portraits of Civil War legend “The Gallant Pelham,” this is one of the most elegant spaces in Houston Cole Library. Most important, however, the space houses a large number of one-of-a-kind publications, such as the master's thesis of Jack Dwight Boozer, Jacksonville, Alabama 1833-1846. It is not the market value but the information content that makes a book like this one such a prize.

“Whatever you need to check up on concerning the doings of your forebears, you have a good chance to find it in the library. One man found a phrase in medical Latin on his great grandfather's death certificate. What did it mean? Translated, it said he died of a gun shot wound. And that created even more mysteries to solve!”

With its new granite exterior, JSU’s Houston Cole Library may seem “brand new” to many. But inside you’ll find ageless wisdom.

For more information, you can contact Dr. Whitesel at 782-5246.


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