Charlcie Pettway Vann works on the 2nd floor of the Houston Cole Library. The 2nd floor houses subjects on Psychology and Philosophy, General Studies, Library Science and Religion. Vann has been a Houston Cole Librarian for 12 years.
BR: What were you before you became a librarian?
VANN: “I am originally from New Jersey, but I had family here in Alabama. I have an Associate degree in Public Policy and a Bachelor’s in Urban Studies. I came here to Jacksonville State University when I learned that they had a job opening for a librarian. At the time, I was living in Florida with my husband and daughter, looking for a job in Atlanta. I have family there. However, I almost did not take the job because my husband had his own job offer elsewhere. When things did not work out, I had to have a slice of humble pie and ask if the position was still available. But I am glad I came here. Everyone has been so kind to me, almost like family.”
After completing her Bachelor’s degree, she received her Master’s of Library Science from North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C.
BR: What is the best part about being a librarian?
VANN: “Helping people, finding information for students. There is this stigma of fear when it comes to being in the library, so I see my job as making students feel comfortable when researching.”
BR: When you are not here at the library, what do you enjoy doing?
VANN: “I’m honestly on duty all the time. If I’m not at work, I have family or friends calling me up and asking if they can help them find something. When I do get a break, I love watching movies, walking, cycling. I love to shop, too.”
BR: Coffee or Tea? Poetry or Prose?
VANN: “Poetry. As for my drink, I say both. I have to be in the mood for coffee, and tea I’ll drink when I’m feeling under the weather.”
BR: Favorite book?
VANN: “The Miseducation of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson. It’s a very good book, very powerful.”
BR: Do you think librarians are still relevant? Why?
VANN: “Of course. Librarians have this art of being able to search for information that is needed at the time. These days, with access to computers, that does not mean that people are more knowledgeable. Just because you have a device like a computer or a tablet doe not mean that all the knowledge is there. I feel like being able to process information in small parts and using critical thinking skills is very important. That is part of my job as a librarian is to teach these skills to students.”
BR: If you were not a librarian, what would you be?
VANN: “I would volunteer for a nonprofit that helps women dress and prepare for job interviews. As I said earlier I love to shop, so being able to help women look their best would be something I would enjoy doing.”
BR: It has been great getting to know you. My final question for you is do you have any advice to give to students?
VANN: “Have a plan. I would tell anyone to have some kind of plan for where they are going. Maybe go continue your education, maybe go straight into the workforce. Just have a plan and be flexible. See every goal you have to the very end.”
On October 25, Jacksonville State University’s Houston Cole Library hosted the grand opening of a new, colorful addition to its 5th floor.
The Children’s Corner Reading Room is an energizing, colorful area designed to foster a love of literature and reading, and to promote literacy for children. Dean of the Library John-Bauer Graham hopes that the new space will open up the library and change the stereotype of the library being a quiet space.
“We want the library to be a place of gathering,” Graham said. “Most students, they know about the lobby and the 12th floor. They grab their coffee and then go up to study, but they don’t interact with the other floors. So, we want this space to draw students in to explore our library, and become the hub of the campus. We want the library to be the heart of this institution.”
The full project took a year and a few months to complete. Students volunteered to help finish the project. Project Coordinator and Education Librarian Laurie Heathcock started the project with the students and children of the community in mind. With shelves full of bright books, and puppets ready for a show, Heathcock’s vision is now a reality.
“I wanted to provide a space for the children here on campus. We have the preschool here so we think this will be a great space for them. We had a lot of volunteer help and I have great ideas for student involvement. We have sororities wanting to do read-alouds, and we are wanting to invite the international students to tell stories from their homes,” Heathcock said.
The room is open to everyone, even students. What makes the space different from the author events held in the past is that those events are sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Students have eagerly embraced the new space.
“I think it’s a great idea because it gives a sense of relief to the hard academics we face in college,” sophomore Erin Snow said.
In addition to weekly read-alouds, the library facility will host book readings and signings by children’s authors and illustrators, present community speakers to share with children on a variety of topics and serve as a space for theater, arts and crafts, and many other types of creative children’s programs.
“I want this space to be like a home away from home for students,” Heathcock said.
Over the summer, Jacksonville State University’s Martin Hall received an extreme makeover that has everyone talking.
Dr. Chris Murdock of the Biology department applied for the REAL Classroom Design Initiative this past summer in hopes of receiving funds to benefit the department. The grant helped to outfit classroom 250 with new paint, new carpet, new desks and updated technology. This grant came from the Faculty Commons Department and has gone to benefit the School of Science.
“They came in and prepped the walls, painted, put new lights in,” Murdock said. “There was not any structural damage, but it still took several months to complete the remodel. All of the old infrastructure was taken out—they took all the old desks out and everything. We really just started with a blank slate.”
With new desks and new technology, the biology classroom is able to incorporate elements of interactivity that is not seen in any other academic building on campus. The rolling desks allow for students to easily transition from rows of students to small or large groups. The newly installed projectors can either project onto whiteboards or serve as interactive smart boards. The technology was not part of the grant but instead came from funds generated by the student technology fee.
“The technology was supplied to us by the IT Department,” Murdock said. “I think it’s important to let students know that this is where your technology fee goes. The nice thing about the projector [in the renovated room] is that it projects on a whiteboard. So, if we have any faculty members that do not want use the smart board, and they just want to use the whiteboard, they can turn the projector off and you can write on the board.”
Murdock said he has heard only positive feedback from students.
“The new room is pretty cool. I actually look forward to going to class,” senior Carter Robertson said.
Martin Hall was not the only building with renovated rooms. Merrill Hall recently renovated their Finance Lab and fourteen classrooms that are used by various professors in the back of Merrill. Each room has a different colored back wall, matching rolling chairs, tables and carpeting.
See the remodeling in Merrill Hall below! Photos by Hollie Ivey
Entering freshman year at college comes with a lot of options. Be the stereotypical lazy college student whose idea of a good night is an extra-large cheese pizza, copious amounts of beer and video games, or the over achiever whose only interest is to finish that research paper that is due in two weeks. So, what is a happy middle? Joining a on campus organization. But how far is too far?
All the Choices
Jacksonville State University is home to over 100 on campus clubs, organizations and religious groups for students to join. At the beginning of each school year, the Student Government Association holds an event called Get On Board Day, which showcases a majority of the groups on campus as a way to encourage students to get involved on campus. However, for some, one group is not enough.
“Originally, I wasn’t going to join anything,” junior Patrick Yim said, “but I found one that I enjoyed and started joining more and more until I got where I am now.”
Yim is a communication major, so being involved in multiple organizations makes sense for his major. Yim is currently a member of eleven organizations including, and in the spring of 2017 was the President of Students for Equality, the President of Zeta Phi Eta and the Vice President of the Student Alumni Association.
Another student, senior Psychology major Paris Coleman, is also a member of multiple organizations. Coleman has placed himself in eight organizations, four of which are a part of the Greek order: Alpha Kappa Psi, Sigma Alpha Pi, Psi Chi and Kappa Alpha Psi.
“I joined so many because I enjoy being able to have a direct, positive influence on people,” Coleman said, “and what better way to do so than to place myself in the correct positions to do so?”
Corin Manning, a sophomore double major in political science and geography, channeled her enthusiasm into the nine organizations she joined, including Delta Zeta, the Student Senate, where she served as Publicity Committee Head, the Honors Program and the Student Activities Council.
“Honestly, I like being involved and meeting new people,” Manning said. “Being in organizations as résumé builders is the least of my concerns. Personally, I like to see active involvement, students feeling at home and giving equal opportunity to everyone to join something on campus. My goal for anything I do is to improve and keep the organization moving upward. I love this campus and the people who go here and being in several organizations helps me meet new people constantly.”
Balancing Studies and Activities
But with being involved comes the added stress of being active without letting grades and GPA plummet. So, how does one keep the balance?
“During registration, I normally plan my schedule around the times that my organization would have events, so I can participate in them,” Coleman said. “I also don’t try to go over 17 hours, because involvement in all of my organizations is like a course load in itself. I try to make sure my studies come first, but I have such a passion for people that I often do the exact opposite. But for me to dedicate so much to other people, I have time to look at my studies and complete what is necessary.”
Active members of clubs could spend up to eleven hours a week at basic meetings. That does not include the bake sale that goes on during an English class or the 5k that is being held the morning before a huge exam. So being a part of a club and actively doing something requires a lot of effort, timing and scheduling, but that does not mean it is impossible.
“Granted, I do not attend every activity by every organization, but that does not make me a bad member,” Manning said. “I attend the majority of the events we host, but if I cannot attend…they understand what is going on with my coursework and are fine with me missing the activity. Normally, I will do my work during my breaks or when I have down time at work. Any free time I have is dedicated to my classes or the organizations that I am in charge of. What I do that helps is treat the organizations like homework and say they are assignments to be completed like filing paperwork or doing new things.
In addition to the time demands, there is also the issue of money. A majority of on-campus organizations have a fee that incoming members pay each year or semester. Fees are what usually scare off potential members; however, some groups do not require such fees, such as the Writers’ Club or the Student Government Association.
“On the financial aspect, I was conscience of the group I joined,” Yim said. “I almost refused to do anything social because it literally is costing you money to be a part of it. While it is good for some, it is not for me. I prefer academic groups because it is more about your skills and strengths as opposed to your social standing.”
Fighting the Stigma
At Get On Board Day, incoming freshmen are able to shop around for clubs and groups that they may find enjoyable. However, most are intimidated by the stigma that if they join more than two groups they will be seen as just adding things to build their résumés. While for some that may be true, Manning disagrees.
“I do not really think there is a stigma other than the fact with being in multiple I have more connections than maybe someone who is in two organizations or one,” Manning said. “However, for incoming freshmen, I would not do it until you get used to being in one or two, so you can get used to the workload of your classes and try to find who you are. People change majors a lot or find they are too swamped from classes to participate, so I suggest to join one or two and gradually add organizations as you wish to start getting to what you like specifically.”
It is also worth noting that just by being a student at the university, incoming freshmen are already a part of the Student Government Association. Certain departments have their own groups as well, such as the Earth Club for Earth science majors, business fraternities for Business majors, Alpha Psi Omega for theatre majors and minors and many more. So even if freshmen do not know which group to join, they have the option of being involved in something pertaining to their major.
Coleman and Yim, however, feel that there is a stigma but have decided to ignore it and break through it.
“There is a stigma to being part of so many, even close friends have told me that they feel like I don’t need anymore résumé boosters,” Coleman said. “But they don’t see my intrinsic motivation. Yes, those extra lines are a small perk to what I do, but that’s not why I do it. I do it because if I don’t, I don’t know if anyone else will. I am more than capable, I am more than willing, I am more. People often mistake my actions for giving up my time, when I am really just gaining more time and experience for the future.”
To incoming freshmen and upperclassman students alike, let it be known that there is so much more to being in multiple organizations than just résumé building.
“I think being in multiple organizations helps me personally,” Manning said. “I am a very outgoing person and I mean that. I love to surround myself with people and do things. Aside from making friendships, I make connections with people that I could be able to access for help with certain courses and other organizations to make joint events.”
It is interesting how much a person can change in a decade. For my sister, it was a change for the better.
On Feb. 24, 2017, my sister, Rebecca, and I attended our first convention together: the Supernatural convention in Nashville, Tenn. Now, I have been to others before, but they were all small compared to the massive turnout this convention offered. For those thatdo not know, “Supernatural” is a popular T.V. show about two brothers who hunt monsters and demons. But to get here, we had to save up nearly $2,000 for Gold Panel Passes. We wanted to make sure that we got to meet Jared and Jensen up close.
Saturday was crazy and jam-packed, between running around for photos that we had paid for and my additional shopping at the vendors’ tables. There was this beautiful moment when one of the main actors, Jensen Ackles, came out to sing for everyone, and, instead, the whole room burst into song for Jensen. We sang the happy birthday song to him, and I could just feel the energy of the room.
“The best part of the weekend was hugging Jared and getting his and Jensen’s autographs. Also, seeing Cliff and Megan [my friends]. Okay that’s not one but I loved all those moments,” Rebecca said.
The best part of the whole experience was seeing Rebecca talking to her hero, Jared Padalecki. When my sister started watching the show, she was eight and I was eleven. We have grown up watching these two actors portray two brothers and really connected with each one.
My sister most connected with Jared, and this was when the show became less about the plot and more about the actors. For the longest time, my sister felt like a nobody. Even in the family she felt like she had no one, but when she started watching the show and saw this character that sounded just like her, she started getting better. She was very shy and did not talk to anyone, but because of the show she is more outgoing and confident in herself
“When [my sister and I] were waiting in line for autographs, I told her I was going to tell Jared three things,” Rebecca said. “One, that he has been my hero since I was 8 years old. Two, that Season 4 was my favorite. Three, if he could tell his wife (who was also on the show) that I love her and wish I could have met her. As far as meeting him goes, he was the sweetest, kindest man on the planet. He is a phenomenal hugger. He’s also a lot bigger in person and has this happy, loving vibe.”
This was a once in a lifetime experience for both of us. How often will we get a chance to meet the cast of the one show that really changed us? Not very. We made the most of it, though. Money was not an issue to us (this weekend, anyway) even though the convention was extremely expensive, but I can say that it was the greatest, most life changing moment of our lives.
“It was great being surrounded by more people like me, especially since it was a specific con about my favorite show. The people were very kind and helpful, and made every event so inviting and welcoming. We made friends with a mother and her two daughters that were there. I really enjoyed [the convention] and can’t wait until the next one,” Rebecca said.
Conventions are more than just fangirls, merchandising and panels. True, it is fun to do those things but I think the biggest thing is that I am comfortable there than I am at school or work. Conventions are about that one chance to be a part of a something bigger than just myself. Supernatural is not just a T.V. show to us, it is a unique and open family for anyone and everyone. We live by the words that the character Bobby Singer said, “Family don’t end with blood.” Just because the fans are not related, that does not mean we are not a family to each other.
“I plan on going back soon,” Rebecca said. “It probably won’t be until 2019 since I have to save up again.”