New library dean sees opportunity to grow for NIU library


July 1 might not mean anything to the casual NIU student or employee, but it does to NIU Library staff clerk Terri Humes.

After all, July 1 was the date that Patrick Dawson was officially named dean of NIU Libraries. And to Humes, that’s a wonderful thing.

“It’s a breath of fresh air having [Dawson] here,” Humes said. “The atmosphere here is just wonderful.”

Dawson, who served as associate university librarian for Information and Research Services for University of California Santa Barbara, was contacted by the NIU search committee to fill the role of dean and immediately did some research.

“The first thing I did was go to the NIU Web site and started looking around,” Dawson said. “I liked what I saw; NIU looked good. It was always my goal to be dean somewhere and NIU was starting to look like that place.”

Dawson was also intrigued by the student population of NIU. UCSB has around 18,000 students; NIU serves nearly 25,000. And it was Dawson’s visit to NIU that sealed his desire to serve as dean.

“When I came to NIU, the people I met impressed me,” Dawson said. “I think there is a good collection of people that work all across the campus. They want NIU to be the best university it can be.”

While NIU as a whole impressed him, the library caught his eye.

“I was impressed with the library itself. We have an excellent Southeast Asian collection, really good digitalization projects and labs,” Dawson said. “Our special collections unit is starting to become more dynamic. So there is opportunity to grow [in] this place.”

Dawson’s main goal is to make the library a place students want to go, not somewhere students have to go.

“Most students have been socialized with group study and group projects. The way the library is set up now promotes isolated study. We need to change the way the library is set up to accommodate the way students study,” Dawson said.

One minor change that Dawson has already implemented allows students to have cell phones in the library, as long as they are turned to vibrate or silent mode. Mason Temiquel, a sophomore physical education major, welcomes the change.

“Most kids are going to have their cell phones anyway so I like that they have allowed them,” Temiquel said.