Beau Case has only been at the University of Toledo for five weeks but, like many new people, he’s found the “right fit” for him. Case isn’t a new student at UT. He’s the new Dean of University Libraries.
“I’m loving every day, even though they are really long and hard. I’m having a blast,” Case said. “Day one was great. I felt so comfortable on campus. I’ve never experienced that before.”
Case joined UT as the leader of the libraries and director of the University of Toledo Press on Aug. 1. He’s a librarian with more than 30 years of experience in academic libraries and museums. He said he was really excited about coming to UT and working with what he said is a “really optimistic and ambitious administration.”
When I met Case to take a tour of the library and see the new renovations, I immediately noticed his humor and appreciation for the library that all UT students have grown to love.
“We need to make libraries a more inviting space for people,” he said. “It is a place, truly, of inspiration.”
As he described the new atrium on the first floor that opens to the second, he laughed and said, “I can get more metaphorical: knowledge is rising up.”
In between talking about construction changes, Case told me about his hopes for Carlson Library. He understands that the reasons people go to libraries have changed over the decades.
“There used to be a reason for people to identify with libraries,” he said. “You had to come here to get information, to get books. If you had questions, you had to go the library. It’s like Hogwarts with wizards at the desk, the librarians, and they knew everything back in the day, before the internet.”
But what does Case think about the future of libraries?
“We don’t do either of those things anymore. We offer books and journals and databases,” Case said. “And people kind of forget the library is still prime on campus. But we still have an important mission to fulfill and it used to be that we supported research teaching and learning on campus. But now what we want to do is not just support, but enhance it.”
Case wants to work more with the student body and faculty to make Carlson Library a place they can utilize.
“One thing I did at the University of Michigan was try to identify gaps on campus,” Case said. “What are some unmet needs that the university couldn’t fulfill for either faculty or students?” There were a lot of areas for students that weren’t being met. One there, and I think that it's the case here, is their creative writing program. Can we bring those students over here to perform? To read their short stories? I think this would be a great environment for that happen.”
Case said he has already met with many faculty on campus, and within the library, to introduce himself and find out some of those gaps that people are experiencing. He has ideas to create a place for poets and artists to showcase their art.
“Maybe they don’t have an exhibit space for students, any kind of gallery space,” Case said. “This library already has brought student artists in here; we’re going to do more of that. Here, it’s not just, ‘I’m an artist, I’m a student and I put my stuff up in the library.’ Where it becomes experiential learning, is that the student is going to learn how to curate a show.”
Carlson Library has the exact things Case believes UT needs: places for experiential learning, engaged learning and competency-based education. He wants to invite faculty to use the library for a more involved classroom experiences.
I think Case is taking the spirit of “doing more” to heart in his new position. He has plans to do more for everyone: students, faculty and the Toledo community. He wants to do more for his new home and once again make the library the heart of our campus.