Best of State – University News
The Pius XII Memorial Library has been recognized as the Missouri Library of the Year 2021 by the Missouri Library Association.
This award came after 18 months of the Pius Library’s operation during the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted many libraries across the state to make changes to their services and systems. The annual award is “conferred on any type of library, library system or network of libraries in Missouri for distinguished achievement in service,” according to the Missouri Library Association website.
Martha Allen, associate dean of user services at Pius Library, said one of the reasons Pius Library received the award was due to its response to the pandemic.
“We haven’t closed our doors,” Allen said. “The Pius Library was open and had the longest hours of any library in the state of Missouri. And I’m talking about public libraries, specialty libraries, university libraries, school libraries – we were open longer than anyone.
Allen said that in addition to opening hours, the Pius Library was able to continue to offer many of its services during the pandemic, which also set Pius apart from other libraries in Missouri.
“We are committed to trying to keep services at a level that [similar to] normal operating services, ”Allen said. “We really moved 800 chairs, 40 sofas, lots and lots of tables. And we did it with the help of distribution and moving services.
But more than the changes to physical functions, the Pius Library was also recognized for how quickly it adapted to the virtual needs of the campus.
“The virtual library is absolutely vital to student success,” Allen said. “And what we quickly realized during the pandemic is that Zoom has enabled us to reach students that we may never have reached in the past.”
Many students and faculty have made use of the virtual aspects of the library as e-book and streaming media payment rates increased dramatically, Allen said.
Caitlin Stamm, archivist at the Pius Library, says these services have always distinguished the Pius Library.
“Before coming to SLU, SLU’s Pius Library had a reputation for having a large collection,” Stamm said. “When I needed to find things for my clients, I always knew that if I needed a special book or a theology book… The Pius Library always had it and was always ready to help us. . And so, I came to SLU with the knowledge of the Pius library, an excellent library.
It’s a reputation that has been built and nurtured since the opening of the Pius Library in 1959. Prior to that, the SLU Library was located in what is now the Pere Marquette Gallery at DuBourg Hall, according to John Waide, a former SLU archivist who worked at the Pie Library for 47 years.
“I’m really a little overwhelmed with the number of students using the library,” Waide said. “You know, during the midterm exams and the final exams, you can’t find a place in the library, and there are a lot of places in the library, don’t get me wrong. It’s just amazing to me how much used it is.
Students and members of the SLU community use Pius a lot, especially during the pandemic. According to library staff, September 2021 saw more than 60,000 guests enter the Pius Library. Once they get in, of course, they have a lot to do.
“I just love the environment everyone studies in, side by side, and it’s like we’re all going through it together,” said Lydia Golden, a health policy and management student.
“What has become very evident is that the library, as a place, is so important,” Allen said. “The library is a sanctuary for many students and different types of sanctuaries: a sanctuary for intellectual research, a sanctuary just for calm and peace, a sanctuary for recreational reading, a sanctuary just for grabbing a bagel. You know, where you meet your friends.
This is something Allen says they wanted to focus on in their response to the pandemic, not just on the pursuit of normalcy.
“I can’t tell you the number of students who told me how important it was during the pandemic that the library be at least a slice of normalcy in this chaotic new world we live in,” Allen said. . “They knew they could come to the library and feel safe.
Ultimately, that sense of security and support is what makes the Pius Library what it is, Allen said.
“I just want to say we have such an amazing team here,” Allen said. “We didn’t win the one-person, one-person award. This is the team that came together to meet the needs of the students. And it’s exciting for me to be in an environment that is truly committed to their mission. “