In April 2018, Lindsey Wharton (Extended Campus and Distance Services Librarian) and Mike Meth (Associate Dean of Research and Learning Services) travelled to FSU’s international campuses in Florence and London. The goal of our visit was to familiarize ourselves with the the libraries and study centers there, meet the students and faculty, and strategize about library services and support for students and faculty studying abroad. The timing of our trip was fortuitous as it coincided with the conclusion of the spring semester and much of our experience was shaped by seeing students who had spent either their last semester or their whole first year abroad.
The FSU Florence study center is located on a quiet street within the city center, only about a ten minute walk from the duomo (photo below) or the ponte vecchio (photo above). Located within a renaissance palazzo, the building is everything you would expect from Florentine architecture, including vaulted ceilings decorated with historic frescos. The library and computer lab is hidden within a quiet courtyard, two doors over from the study center, and up a flight of stairs. Although not in the same building, the library is well used and also includes a faculty lounge. As we toured the library space with Amy (our iSchool intern in Florence), students were busy studying for finals with the same intensity we all expect in our main campuses libraries. Books line library walls from floor to ceiling, with individual and group study spaces dispersed throughout the four rooms. The Florence library intern works with the help of student workers to curate the book collection, assist students with textbooks on reserve and research questions. She also works with faculty to teach information literacy lessons and orient students to library services. During our visit, we heard numerous compliments about the work she was doing and how valued her contributions are.
FSU London is located on a beautiful street in Covent Garden, just a block away from the monumental British Museum. The study center is situated in a set of seven historic row houses, a remarkable fresco embellishing the ceiling of the main building. In the basement of the main building, sits the library which houses about 9,000 volumes. Students in the London study center have easy access to the library, as the student accommodations and classrooms are all accessible through maze-like hallways in the basement that connect the seven row houses. The London library is comparable in size and feel to a school library. The library has a front room where the staff and student workers sit in an open area, and where textbooks for short-term loan can be borrowed. The collection is in the larger room with shelves full of historic and modern titles and a large cabinet of DVDs. The London library is managed by the study center IT team, Lloyd and Dan, who focus on ordering materials, checking out the textbooks on reserve, and assisting patrons with a multitude of technology issues.
During our visit in both study centers, we spent time with the leadership of the centers, faculty and students. Throughout our conversations, we explored a wide range of topics, ranging from Aleph implementation to staffing and training. Since neither library has a full time librarian, we will continue working with the study centers to provide services from Tallahassee and to train the staff in both locations. While FSU students studying at our campuses abroad do not have access to our main campus libraries, we still want them to have a fulfilling library experience and provide them with the support and resources they need to succeed. From our 24/5 Ask A Librarian chat service to our citation management software, many of our services and resources are equally useful as whether you are studying in Strozier or in your Florence apartment.
Here are some photos from our summer adventure.