Our first Spotlight - Shannon Johnson
The Helmke Library was built in 1972 and named after Walter E. Helmke, a prominent Fort Wayne attorney and member of the IU board of Trustees in 1977. We are currently getting ready for a massive infrastructure upgrade to replace all the original wiring, HVAC, and remodel the main spaces to meet the needs of today’s students. (More info on remodel)
We are the only official library on campus, serving both undergraduate, graduates, and faculty as well as the northeast Indiana community. We have 11 full time librarians, each specializing in a different subject area. Our largest health sciences program on campus is nursing, offering both undergraduate and graduate level degrees with a DNP starting in the fall. Nursing has always been a major program at IPFW and shares a wonderful relationship with the library.
During finals week we invite local pet therapy groups into the building to help the students unwind a little. We also provide free coffee and snacks during the peak evening study hours. Photo from pets in the Learning Commons (more on our facebook page).
We also make use of the learning commons to host campus events like the Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium, host NLM traveling exhibits, and have live streamed TEDMED events.
Personally I think one of our best events is the Game Nights we run once or twice a semester. We have a collection of board games that library staff bring in, and students are encouraged to share their favorites. There is popcorn, and slushies, and cotton candy. People can mingle and have fun and get to see the library as someplace they can feel at home. It’s been very popular with the students, particularly freshman, and has been a major way that new students can connect and make friends on campus. Several informal student groups, and one recognized student organization, have formed around gaming since we started and they frequently use our Learning Commons to meet. It’s wonderful to see them enjoying the space and encouraging others to come to the library. I’ve had several students tell me they were intimidated by the place before they started coming to game nights, but now they know it’s a great place to study, hang out, or get help. So while it’s fun, it’s also drawing students in for services.