By Sophia Harris
The search committee for the new Henry Whittemore Library dean held an open forum for candidate Millie González, interim library dean, Feb. 16 in a hybrid format.
Attendees raised questions about funding, how the library supports diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and how it engages with faculty and students.
This was the second of two open forums that were held for members of the community to ask
questions to the candidates for library dean.
González opened the meeting by discussing her educational and professional background.
She earned her bachelor of arts at Hamilton College with a major in comparative literature. She then advanced to a master’s in business administration and a master’s in library and information science from Simmons University.
After college, González said she worked “at a number of different libraries.”
She listed Framingham Public Library, Mass Bay Community College, a pharmaceutical library, as well as a consortium that “traveled all over Western Mass and visited libraries.”
She added, “It was a wonderful experience because I got to learn all about different types of libraries, and that experience informs me now. So I love bringing a little bit of a public library experience within the Whittemore Library.”
González has served as interim dean of the library for approximately a year and a half and has worked at Framingham State since 2007.
Prior to serving as interim library dean, she was the interim chief diversity o[cer for inclusion and community engagement for two years.
While working at Whittemore Library, through her tenure, González served as the emerging
technologies and digital services librarian as well as the reference librarian in the electronic resources library.
Halcyon Mancuso, founder/executive director of the Mancuso Humanities Workforce Preparation Center, asked, “How would you prioritize library initiatives and what might some of those initiatives be for the next three years, given that FSU, like many higher ed institutions, is facing declining enrollments and financial pressure?”
González said she is “very aggressive in terms of looking for grants,” and she is always trying to increase funding.
She added her priorities right now are to “support whatever we have done before.”
González said in the longer term, with the help of more funding, she would like to see more diversity and inclusion within the library resources, such as print books, in order for the library to “align itself with the priorities of the institution.”
Robert Awkward, professor and coordinator for the Master of Human Resources program, asked, “What efforts have you undertaken to gain more resources in order to carry out your vision for the library?”
González said she is “not shy about advocating for the library.” She added, “If I have to knock on every door for funding or extra funding, I’ll do that.”
She said they are also forming a new program called “Friends of the Library,” which should not only increase funding, but also form a closer affiliation with alumni.
One attendee asked what the library’s role is in addressing and supporting the DEI agenda.
González said the library has an important role in supporting anti-racism and social justice eTorts.
She said the library looks at opportunities where it can support DEI initiatives. This includes purchasing resources that are inclusive or hosting events, posting bulletin boards, or focused discussions that align with heritage months.
She added the library partners closely with the Center for Inclusive Excellence and supports their initiatives such as, “courageous conversations or anti-racism conversations within the staT.”
González said, “My intention is for students or anybody that works in the library, or walks into the library, to feel welcomed – to feel that it is an innovative, inclusive library.”
Awkward asked, “What do you see as the role of the library and the dean of the library to assist faculty who wish to use open educational resources (OER) as one of our teaching and learning tools to address student access, affordability, and student success?”
González said she is proud the library leads the OER initiative. She added she has been working on it for “a number of years.”
She said along with support and training, faculty also need to be given a stipend for the work that they do.
She added the “next level” is forming a task force to “learn about faculty who may be exploring, or are interested in learning about OER.”
González said the library received a three-year grant and expects to develop 78 textbooks free and accessible online “within the six institutions.”
Mancuso asked, “How should the library engage faculty and students? What have been the best modes of communication to these two constituencies?”
González said, “There’s not one blanket approach we have – it’s a more nuanced approach.”
She said social media and the library’s newsletter are great ways of informing faculty, staT, and students of “the exciting things that are happening in the library.”
González said the library hired a student engagement coordinator.
She added compared to “sister institutions,” Framingham State is the only institution to have a student engagement coordinator.
González said in regard to faculty, they hired a scholarly communications librarian to focus on faculty needs and faculty research.
“All the stuff that we’re doing at the library – it’s just really engaging,” González added. “It’s our mission to make sure that they [the FSU community] understand all of the different things that are happening.”