February 11, 2010 12:00AM
There's an old saying in higher education that a library is the heart of a campus.
Whether it's watching students meet for coffee or seeing them in quiet corners researching term papers, new Axe Library Dean David Bunnell is glad this seems to be true at PSU.
Bunnell began his new position at PSU Feb. 1. Most recently, he served as director of institutional effectiveness and research at Griffin Technical College in Griffin, Ga. He earned his master's degree in library and information science from the University of Kentucky and his Ed.D. at the University of Georgia. He also has a degree in theological studies from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.
Bunnell replaces Bob Walter, the longtime dean credited with moving the library forward in the areas of technology, campus internationalization, and academic curriculum. "We will miss Bob's commitment to the university, including his efforts to provide students with the best possible tools for research and learning. He has been a great colleague to many over his many years at PSU," said Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Lynette Olson. "And now, we are very excited to welcome Dr. Bunnell to the PSU campus."
Although the facility serving as a campus cornerstone hasn't changed, Dr. Bunnell said that after 17 years in the field, he has seen significant improvements in the technology available to libraries.
"Right now we're at a really interesting point in the history of information technology," Bunnell said. "How universities produce their research is coming into question. Traditionally it has been through academic and scholarly journals with standard publishers. Now things are moving toward a more open model, with research published in a large, Web-based depository. Libraries have to keep up with it."
It's not just new ways of publishing research, he said, but also how that research is disseminated.
"Before, there were separate databases for everything, but now we're at the point where things are coming together in one Google-type search that finds everything available," he said. "PSU has had a good start with the ability to search multiple databases, but now what has to happen is bringing it together into a seamless interface."
With this type of technology making research possible from nearly anywhere, Bunnell said the library's offerings - from lectures to artifacts to reference materials not found online - are invaluable.
"As a place, it is still vital, because not everything is available electronically," said Bunnell, who hopes to see renovations to Axe Library that would modernize it and create a more open space. "It's still a place for print, for human interaction. People still need help and want to work together. We're going to look at how to make it more attractive for students."