Organizational Member Spotlight – University of South Alabama

University of South Alabama

University of South AlabamaUniversity of South Alabama Libraries in Mobile, Alabama, joined ACRL in 1987 and has been an organizational member of ACRL for 32 years. We are proud to feature USA Libraries for the month of September 2016.

1. Describe your library in 3 words: Committed, accessible, pragmatic.

2. Describe ACRL in three words: Advocacy, representative, roadmap.

4. What does your library (as an organizational member) value about ACRL? ACRL workshops, conferences, publications, and other programs have been the “go to,” authoritative places of professional librarians at the University of South Alabama and elsewhere for decades. ACRL standards are particularly useful, for instance, in validating and guiding our practices and programs. The Framework for Information Literacy is a case in point, serving as a a tool for developing our instructional programs and validating them to university administration and faculty.

5. What value does your library contribute to your campus? The libraries not only provide essential information resources and services, but also a place to study, collaborate, and conduct research. The libraries strive to provide the materials, regardless of format, that students and faculty need to be successful.
The focus of the library faculty is shifting away from traditional collection oriented services to the provision of instruction, including credit courses. Instruction programs in all formats and on all platforms (web, online, face-to-face) are designed to help students locate the resources they need to complete their research and course assignments. The libraries’ most valuable resources are the library faculty and staff who acquire, catalog, process, instruct, and otherwise contribute to the success of USA students, faculty, and staff.

6. In your own words: As the University of South Alabama has grown since its founding in 1963 from one building to a sprawling campus in west Mobile, two hospitals, and a Baldwin County campus, so have the libraries expanded. The first library was housed in one room of that first building, but plans to build an 80,000 sq. ft. university library were quickly realized in 1968 when a large four-story facility (now called Marx Library) opened. Another construction project completed in 2003 nearly doubled the size of Marx Library to over 180,000 sq. ft. Another renovation in 2015-2016 provided space for the Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which had been relocated to the university’s mid-town campus. The McCall collection contains the papers of fifteen different families, and several individuals, as well as more than 13,000 printed items, which all document the history of the Alabama Black Belt from 1806 to the mid-20th century. The McCall collection includes journals, diaries, personal papers, business records, newspapers, photographs, maps, broadsides, sheet music, flyers, pamphlets, legal records, business cards, and a myriad of other documents valued at over three million dollars. The McCall Library also houses university records, civil rights era collections, and over a million photographic images of Mobile area houses, businesses, people, attractions, and events.

Due to the rapidly expanding programs in medicine, nursing, and health sciences, the biomedical literature outgrew the space within Marx Library. So yet another building was renovated in 1972 for the Charles Baugh Biomedical Library to house the collections and help meet the research needs of students and faculty in the health sciences. In addition, satellite collections of the biomedical library are located in two university hospitals in the mid-town area of Mobile; their focus is to meet the research needs of medical staff who work at USA’s Children’s and Women’s Hospital and Medical Center.

Editor’s Note: Is your library an ACRL organizational member? Would you like to be featured in our Organizational Member Spotlight feature? Contact Mary Jane Petrowski at for more information.