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“Once a Bearcat, always a Bearcat.” As a former graduate of Northwest and a current Northwest employee, Kathy Hart lives by this motto. The November employee spotlight features Kathy Hart, her contributions to the B.D. Owens Library, and how the library staff has created a work environment that focuses on student retention. In 2002, Hart graduated from Northwest with a Bachelor of Science in Office Information Systems. During her time as a student on campus, she worked as a library assistant in the library. Hart was then hired on at Northwest as a full-time employee in 2004. Since that time, she has held five different positions within the library, which has led to her current title as the assistant director of library services.
In recent years, Hart has helped lead numerous projects to help with improving the library and services it offers to patrons. Last year, she supervised the reorganization of the first floor space. As project leader, Hart organized a team of student employees and staff members who turned an idea into a reality. They worked together to completely revamp this space to provide the library with a fresh, new, and welcoming look that has broken up the floor's distinct functions. A large addition to the reorganization is the iPlace. This area serves as a space that adds a visual component to studying and collaborative project work through the use of desks, chairs and mobile whiteboards. The grand reopening of the library was held in September of 2011, where the staff showcased the new first floor attributes to the Northwest campus and community.
Another extensive project that Hart is actively involved in is titled Brick and Click: An Academic Library Symposium which she co-coordinates on with Carolyn Johnson, information librarian and assistant professor. This is an annual conference hosted specifically for academic librarians throughout the United States. The fundamental goal of the conference is to provide cutting edge, ground-breaking, innovative practical solutions for both traditional and online library services. The conference began in 2001 and garners approximately 150 participants annually. Speaker proposals for the conference are formally submitted, and all full-time employees working in the library individually read and rank these proposals to ultimately determine who will be chosen as presenters. This year’s conference was just held last Friday, October 26.
An additional component of Hart’s work includes an upcoming development that focuses on student retention, tying back to our University-wide initiatives. This particular amenity, a discovery tool, will allow users to search all print and web-based library services simultaneously. The goal of this project is to unify the library as a whole and eliminate existing silos for students. Hart has played a large role by negotiating with potential vendors involved in the process, formulating an evaluation mechanism for the products, and is currently working on signing the contract. The library hopes to launch this new development sometime during the spring 2013 trimester.
When asked why she chose to continue her professional career in the library field, Hart stated that she knew from a young age that academia is where she belongs. She reminisces about making trips to the library as a child and loves the organizational aspect that libraries have. She is passionate about her work and immerses herself in the rapidly changing environment that the library presents. Because of her passion for learning, Hart chose to continue her education at the University of Missouri and obtained her Master’s degree in Information Science and Learning Technologies in 2009.
In her spare time, Hart enjoys her hobbies of playing the piano and participating in a form of martial arts called hapkido. Her son, thirteen-year-old Harrison, is also learning to play the guitar. Hart looks forward to the possibility of musical ensembles with Harrison in the future. Harrison also played an active role in getting Hart involved in hapkido. They have been practicing martial arts together for six and a half years.
In closing, Hart attributes the library’s success to the student employees and staff she interacts with on an everyday basis. She states, “The more minds you have wrapped around something, the better the outcome.” This demonstrates the importance of working together and the unity that resonates within the library as well as throughout the campus community. Please join us in thanking Kathy for her hard work and dedication not only to B.D. Owens Library but to Northwest.