Richland College welcomes Laura McKinnon, the new dean of Library Services. She comes to Richland from the University of North Texas. Her plans for the department include increasing outreach to students and faculty, hosting events at the library, initiating a Human Library project and improving open access to library resources for all students. .
McKinnon said her favorite thing about her new job are her interactions with students.
“I think it is working with the students, showing them resources that are available to them and showing them something that they may not find on their own,” said McKinnon.
The Human Library project is a database of oral histories from peoplewho have experienced prejudice due of their race, gender, age, disability, ethnic origin, class, sexual preference, gender identity or lifestyle choices. It’s a collection of stories about experiences throughout life.
“The Human Library is a place where people are the books,” McKinnon said.
To participate, ‘books’ will sit in the library with a group of chairs. Readers will come in and choose which book they want to ‘read’ (talk to). Readers will sit with books that interest them and ask the books questions about their titles. It’s a safe space to ask questions of people from different backgrounds.
McKinnon said “Books generally represent marginalized communities, but we also like to have other types of books, such as police officers, faith leaders, or people who represent different professions.”
“These conversations will not be recorded, so those interested in the event are encouraged to attend,” she said.
One change that McKinnon wants to implement is the no food in the library rule.
“One other thing to mention is, that after years of not allowing food in the library, we have decided to allow snacks on the mezzanine level (up the stairs with the group seating by the large windows). We ask that students clean up after themselves and let a staff member know if they’ve spilled,” McKinnon said.
The library is open to everyone who needs its resources. Librarians are there to help students find what they need, and the library’s new dean is there to help and answer any questions students might have.