Known and Used (1993-2016)

The Heart of the Campus: A History of the Harper College Library

The Early YearsInformation AgeKnown and UsedAcademic SupportNotable Librarians

While the library was being renovated to help serve a more diverse population, the library staff was simultaneously creating a new vision that would carry it into the new millennium. According to the library’s 1992 Program Review, its mission going forward was to "promote college-wide awareness of LRC goals and services" and "develop understanding and support for the [library] and its role in the college community."1 Or to put it another way, the librarians wanted their facility to be known and used by students, faculty, and area residents. To accomplish this goal, the library would have to place a greater emphasis on public programming, collaborate with other libraries and vendors, and continue to embrace new technologies.

Students using the newly remodeled library on August 31, 1995Student Lodi Mula using the library on June 21, 1990

The library's first book drive in 1993. Pictured (left to right) are Gwen Brown, June Steffen, Judy Robinson, and Bev Weidinger. This picture was taken December 3, 1993.
Starting in the 1990’s, the library attempted to publicize its services in any way it could. Several initiatives were developed by the library staff to demonstrate how their institution was an important anchor for the community. For example, as the demographics of the northwest suburbs began to shift, the library began hosting multicultural events featuring food, music, and decorations from around the globe to celebrate diversity. Additionally, in 1993, the library began a book drive, which collected over 220 new books for children served by the Palatine Township General Assistance Department.2 This event was so successful that it became an annual tradition.3

Donations to Little City by Harper librarians on May 22, 2008
Librarian Kim FournierLibrarians Michele Ukleja
and Kim Fournier
Librarian Connie Bach

Since that time, the library put together a marketing committee, which came up with a variety of events and programs that have continued to the present day:

  • The library began hosting Banned Book Week events, in which librarians put together displays of banned books, held lectures on specific books that had been banned or challenged, and distributed printed materials on censorship and intellectual freedom.

    Banned Book Week Events
    Librarian William Pankey discusses the banning of the Bible on September 30, 2008Student performances about the banning of "The Crucible" from October 23, 2012
    Professor Jim Edstrom discusses the banning of the "Grapes of Wrath" on September 29, 2008Professor Judy Kulchawick discusses "The Things They Carried" on August 24, 2012A poster from Banned Books Week in 2012 explaining different reasons why books might be banned
    Professor Kurt Hemmer discussing the banned poems of Allen Ginsberg on October 23, 2016

  • Library poetry reading events began in 2004, and that same year, the library held a voter registration drive that added 1100 new voters in time for that year's presidential elections.

    Librarians Jim Edstrom and Kim Fournier help register voters on November 30, 2012Unnamed librarians are waiting outside to sign up new voters on November 30, 2012

  • In addition, the librarians began a marketing campaign to create "READ" posters with various faculty, students, and librarians posing with books they enjoyed reading.

    "READ" posters featuring faculty members Carl Dittburner and Tim Manning from July 30, 2008"READ" poster featuring faculty member Richard-Middleton Kaplan from July 30, 2008"READ" poster featuring the staff from the Harper Career Center on July 30, 2008

  • One of the most popular programs developed by the library was One Book, One Harper. Every year, a committee of librarians works together with faculty to select books or themes to highlight. From there, the committee plans events, such as plays, panel discussions, and contests around that book's themes.

    A Joyful Noise Gospel Concert, April 17, 2013

    Click on this image to
    see the full program

    A Talk with Holocaust Survivor Mietek Weintraub on September 14, 2015

  • The library has also continued helping out the community by starting a food for fines program to feed the homeless and putting together boxes for bravery displays where people can donate items to soldiers overseas.

    The college's accounting faculty put this box together for display on April 15, 2015A box put together by Librarian Christine Kuffel displayed on April 15, 2015This box was put together by students of the college's Fundamentals of Speech Communication class. The picture was taken on April 15, 2015.
    Unloading a van filled with food on May 5, 2008Librarians Winona Patterson, Michelle Ukleja and Njambi Kamoche examine their haul on May 5, 2008

  • Lastly, the library hosted events such as the Edible Book contests that let students display their creativity by making edible treats around the themes or titles of various books.

Cupcakes based on Alice in Wonderland displayed on November 8, 2016A cake based on Chicka Chicka Boom Boom displayed on November 8, 2016A creation based on Harry Potter displayed on November 7, 2016A cake based on Charlotte's Web displayed on November 7, 2016
Library Dean Njambi Kamoche judges an edible book entry based on The Giving Tree on November 17, 2008Students work on perfecting their edible book entry based on A Night To Remember on November 17, 2008On display is an edible book based on The Old Man and the Sea. This picture was taken on November 17, 2008This entry, based on The Rainbow Fish, was displayed on November 17, 2008

Technological advances were also providing the library a greater opportunity to connect with the public. With the emergence of the Internet, the library developed a website around 1998, and also installed a more advanced online catalog called Voyager. Unlike the old system, Voyager could be set up on any computer in the library, and had a graphic interface that made it much easier to teach patrons how to find library materials. The new system was also capable of generating reports that helped the library keep track of circulation or reference statistics.4 At the same time, the library acquired new online databases that had easier interfaces, and were updated by the vendor instead of the library. The library also joined several cooperatives at the start of the new millennium, including CARLI (2005), I-Share (2004), and ILCSO Online (2003) that gave patrons access to collections of print and digitized materials from other libraries, downloadable e-books, and digitized materials. To make it easier for students to access these new materials, the library website was redesigned, and now included online ordering forms for new purchases and interlibrary loans (ILL). With this new wealth of information available to Harper patrons, ILL requests rose dramatically from 3300 in 2002 to 8164 in 2006.5 Other online acquisitions included streaming video files, new database subscriptions, and Blackboard assessment tools which could help the librarians determine how successful they were at teaching patrons to use the library.

This picture displays the storage area for the archival collections in the old F Building on September 17, 2007.
Additionally, the library now had the opportunity to showcase its archival collections in a way they hadn't been able to before. Although donations of archival materials began in the 1970's, the collections didn't have a librarian to care for them until 1999, and not until 2001 that a formally trained archivist was hired to manage the collections. He began by developing a mission statement and a collection development policy for the archives, organizing the historical records, developing inventories to help patrons locate specific items, and acquiring new collections. However, the archives greatly enhanced its profile on campus by designing a website and uploading exhibits comprised of digitized historical materials, including an examination of the life of Dr. William Rainey Harper and a historical profile of Harper College's Fashion Department. The archives also developed an institutional repository to collect and display important administrative documents which were either born digital or digitized for online access. The repository now provides 24-hour access to over 300 electronic documents. With its larger profile on campus, the archives has seen a sharp increase in the number of reference requests as well as many new donations of historical materials.

Images from the Fashion Exhibit
A gown created by Nicoline Gagliano, which won her an award for Outstanding Designer of the Year. This photo was taken on June 27, 1973.Outfits designed by Mary Mize and Glynis Scott. This picture was taken on May 12, 1983.The name of the model and the date this picture was taken are unknown.Model Holland Rusch models an outfit designed for the 2005 Fashion Show. This picture was taken on May 22.

As the library began a new remodeling phase in 2016, the librarians began to see digital and online collections as the future, and slowly began cutting back on their physical collections. Not only would this save space and money, it would also make more room for students to gather, study, and read for pleasure. The vision for the remodeled library includes a cafe for students and expanded access to outlets for computers, smart phones, and other hand-held devices. There will also be extra seats for students to use, more accessible furniture for people with disabilities and additional computer terminals. The remodeling project will be completed sometime in 2018. In the meantime, the library had to move to D Building and set up shop there. The library was given several classrooms for library shelving, a lunchroom for the archival materials, and a cube farm to hold library staff. It took a lot of planning, but ultimately, the librarians were able to determine which materials to take with them to the temporary facility. Collections like Young Adult literature, graphic novels, and best sellers came over almost in their entirety. Other collections that had high circulation rates came over too, and were given different colored labels based on importance. Additional room was aquired in H130 for reference materials and reserves.6

Pictures of the Library's move from F Building
A row of shelving with books given yellow labels to indicate that they are popular and should be moved to the new facility. This picture was taken November 10, 2016.The library staff boxed up all the books on their shelves in huge crates before having them moved to D Building. They rested in the hallways of D Building until the temporary library facility was set up. These pictures were taken on August 15, 2016.