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Love Your Library

10:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 25 — Strozier Library

I have fond memories of the time I spent here at Strozier when I was a student. Of course, if you had talked to any of my professors, I’m sure they would have told you they wish I had spent a little MORE time here in the library.

This was back when this building was still new, Robert Strozier was FSU’s immediate past president, and long before anyone called it “Club Stroz.” It never occurred to anybody that you could put a coffee shop in the library.

But then, as now, Strozier is at the center of Florida State’s academic mission. It provides collections, resources and services to enhance all of the university’s learning, teaching, research and service activities.

We are fortunate to have Strozier, which serves an astonishing 1.2 million visitors each year. Among our students, more than 93 percent of them visit Strozier each semester.

In fact, Strozier Library is one of the most popular night spots in Tallahassee. Open 24 hours, five days a week plus weekend hours, you can come here at virtually any time and find a packed house.

In addition, FSU’s seven other on-campus libraries provide specialized collections and services in areas such as music, law, medicine and engineering. All of our libraries contribute greatly to the success of our students and faculty.

Everywhere we look, there is plenty of evidence of that success. The academic quality of the students we are bringing in continues to increase. These high-achieving students are much more prepared for the rigors of academic life, so our retention and graduation rates also are increasing.

Thanks to the talent and skill of our faculty and staff, FSU already is a national leader in many academic disciplines. We have a number of programs ranked in the Top 25 and several ranked No. 1.

Providing an excellent education to students is our top priority. But as a Tier 1 research institution, we also have a broader mission to drive society forward through research and creative activity.

Last year, FSU achieved its highest total to date in research funding, bringing in more than $230 million from federal, state and other funding sources.

One of the ways University Libraries supports faculty research is through its Faculty Library Research Materials Grants. These program grants — typically in the range of $500 to $10,000 — are awarded each year to purchase library materials that facilitate original research and creative activity.

The heart and soul of any university is its libraries. I think that’s one reason why the shooting here on Nov. 20 touched us so deeply. Hundreds of students were here in Strozier that night.

In the wake of the shooting, I felt a lot of emotions — gratitude for the police and library staff whose quick actions kept the situation from escalating, relief that the tragedy was not much worse, concern for those who were wounded, and sorrow that a piece of our innocence was lost that night.

When we re-opened Strozier the next morning, I felt overwhelming pride. Students were lining up to get into the library — a demonstration of their commitment to their studies, appreciation of their library and love of their university.

We showed the world that we are strong, resilient and united as an FSU family.

Today, Ronnie Ahmed, who sustained the most serious injuries in the shooting, is making incredible progress in his recovery. We’re happy that he is back on campus now, and he’s looking forward to resuming his studies in biomedical engineering.

Nathan Scott, a library employee who was also wounded that night, is the 2015 recipient of the American Library Association Paul Howard Award for Courage for his actions that night.

Despite being shot in the leg, and at great risk to himself, Nathan managed to run from the front desk in the lobby, past the security barriers and inside the library to warn others. There is no doubt he helped to protect hundreds of potential victims from harm.

Nathan received similar recognition from the Florida Library Association. He exhibited great courage and calm in the line of fire. We are so proud of him and grateful for his bravery and selflessness.

The FLA also has recognized Julia Zimmerman for her outstanding leadership during the shooting.

Thanks to the dedication and professionalism of Julia and her entire team, Strozier and the other seven libraries are thriving. From Special Collections to the Scholars Commons to the most cutting-edge technologies, tutoring stations and study rooms, FSU’s libraries are excellent. But libraries need constant attention, especially in a rapidly changing world.

Great universities have great libraries. That’s why it’s important that we remember our libraries as we continue on our quest to achieve a Top 25 national ranking. We must support them if they are to continue to thrive and advance.

Top 25 schools have the most extensive, comprehensive and impressive collections and services. And so must we. Our students, faculty and staff deserve nothing less.

Now, I’d like to introduce Professor Dan Maier-Katkin of the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Dan is the chair of our faculty/staff campaign committee.