The Evolution of the Paul H. Thompson Library10-23-13-ftcc.gif

Since the mid-1800s libraries in the United States have successfully operated under the model of book and information providers for the masses. To his enduring credit, Melvil Dewey is widely considered the father of the modern library. Fulfilling a unique mission, community college libraries are not giant tombs of millions of books waiting to be used. We are required to be more nimble, and our strength rests in our dexterity, not rigidity.

At Fayetteville Technical Community College, the mission of the library, including its current evolution, has always been student and faculty focused. The library’s ability to adapt over the past 50 years has sustained the informational needs of the first graduating class of 40 students in 1963 through the current 40,000 students today, majoring in more than 200 degree and certificate fields. Built in 1971, the Paul H. Thompson library houses approximately 68,000 books, 32 computers and seating for 155. Through use of the Internet, the ability to deliver scholarly information worldwide 24 hours-a-day to our face-to-face and distance education students is in constant competition with non-academic information sources like Google and Wikipedia.

Over the past two years, the Paul H. Thompson library floor plan was redesigned, a Discovery Service was established, and a concerted effort to turn over the print collection was initiated. Creating an atmosphere conducive to study was behind the effort to replace all of the furniture, brighten the lighting, introduce wireless computing and printing, and transform the facility into a collaborative environment where students and faculty can build upon FTCC’s foundation.

FTCC is proud to be the only North Carolina community college with a Discovery Service, which prepares our graduates for the rigors necessary to do world-class research equal to any four-year college or university. The complexity of the modern academic library includes finding information in books, e-books, journals, e-journals, multiple electronic databases, films, audio recordings, maps, photos and archive materials. We decided to partner with the major publishing company EBSCO to establish a Discovery Service. EBSCO Discovery allows FTCC students to search the entirety of Paul H. Thompson Library’s holdings, both print and electronic, with a single search from anywhere in the world 24 hours-a-day. Students on campus, online students studying locally and distance education soldiers as far away as Afghanistan have access to the exact same information through the Library’s website.

Turning over or modernizing the print collection involves eliminating the outdated and purchasing updated books necessary to support the various curriculums. The Paul H. Thompson Library is two years into a five-year plan which includes tripling the amount of the library’s books by purchasing 120,000 e-books in 2013. These e-books are available to every FTCC student worldwide 24 hours-a-day.

The future of the Thompson Library is bright as we head toward converting the reference collection to digital in partnership with Oxford University Press, creating the FTCC Digital Archive highlighting our history and investing in a broader array of databases covering every subject area in more depth. Plan a visit to FTCC’s Paul H. Thompson Library soon to see the exciting changes that have been implemented.

Photo: There are big changes happening at FTCC’s Paul H. Thompson Library.

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