Tag: Kim Westbrooks

In the Books: Meet librarian Kim Westbrooks

Kim Westbrooks stands at the third and fourth floor table at the library’s second annual Homecoming tailgate party on Thursday, October 26. (photo by Cassidy Smith/The Chanticleer).

Brittany RobertsonStaff Writer

It is the first building seen by anyone traveling through town. The tallest and occasionally the brightest in the city of Jacksonville: the Houston Cole Library. At thirteen stories high and divided into eight “micro-libraries,” the Houston Cole Library is the tallest building at Jacksonville State University and in the tallest academic building in the state of Alabama. And, of course, with such a huge building and so many books, there need to be librarians to help navigate it.

Kim Westbrooks works on the fourth floor of Houston Cole, which houses the subjects of Criminal Justice, Finance, Economics and Accounting, Management and Marketing, Political Science, Sociology and Social Work. Westbrooks has been a Houston Cole Librarian for two years and is best recognized by her bubbly personality. Everything she does is done with so much energy, from chatting about how she is rearranging shelves to how she loves sharing information with students about various topics.


BR: What were you before you became a librarian?

WESTBROOKS: “I am originally from Rome, Georgia. I came here to Jacksonville State University in 2002 as a student. I met my first friend, who turned out to be my future husband. I have an Undergraduate degree in Music Performance and a minor in Math and English. I know crazy, right? I was a student worker while I was here and absolutely loved it. I then went to the University of Alabama where I received my Masters in Library Science. While I was here, I lived in Dixon Hall and marched for the Southerners. It was the best three years of my life.”

BR: What is the best part about being a librarian?

WESTBROOKS: “Helping people, of course!”


BR: When you are not here at the library, what do you enjoy doing?

WESTBROOKS: “I sing or play my flute. I am an avid church goer. I am also the convention head of Annicon, which is the anime convention that takes place in Anniston in the spring. Some days my husband and I will take our son out to hike, bike and camp. We even have a two-person bicycle that has an extra attachment, so we could ride with our son on the end.”

The Houston Cole Library, situated beside Martin Hall and across Pelham Road from the TMB, has 13 floors, ten of which house the library’s over 800,000 titles (photo by Katie Cline/The Chanticleer).



BR: Coffee or Tea?

WESTBROOKS: “Coffee, with lots and lots of sugar.”


BR: Favorite book?

WESTBROOKS: “Great Expectations [by Charles Dickens].”


BR: Do you think librarians are still relevant? Why?

WESTBROOKS: “Of course. Librarians do not just go around telling students to be quiet. We are here to help and guide students and anyone in the community. We live in a time where we have information overload, so you have to wonder what is relevant and what is not. Librarians like myself help with that. Another reason why we are still relevant is that of the 800,000 titles we have in the library; only a small portion of our reference material is digital. That means, even if you search for it on our website it may not pop up. I really want to encourage students to come talk with us and let us be librarians and help.”


BR: If you were not a librarian, what would you be?

WESTBROOKS: “An Opera singer (laughs). That was my plan from the very start. I enjoy music and becoming a singer would have been wonderful, but I have to admit that I much prefer being a librarian. I love receiving new material for the library and helping students find books and gain knowledge. So, while I wish my first dream had come true, I am very happy as a librarian.”


BR: It has been great getting to know you. My final question for you is do you have any advice to give to students?

WESTBROOKS: “Question everything. We are living in a time where information is at our fingertips, but I want students to remember that not everything out there is accurate. So, my advice to them is to question every source and think about where it comes from. Does it contain personal interest or an agenda being pushed? Those sort of things are why I encourage students to come talk to me so I can point them in the right direction. I enjoy helping others.”


*This is the first iteration of Brittany Robertson’s “In the Books” Library Series, where she interviews the librarians of Houston Cole. Come back next semester to meet the rest of the librarians! *

Library tailgate encourages students to explore Houston Cole

Cassidy Smith, Staff Writer


Music, food and balloons filled the scene of the Library Tailgate at the Houston Cole Library on Thursday, October 26. The event’s purpose was to engage students with the priceless resource of librarians and the information that they can help students find. Each floor had a table set up with information regarding what exactly could be found there. Students were given “Tailgate Tickets,” and as they visited each table, they got a hole punched in the ticket; when the ticket was filled, the students would be entered into a raffle to win door prizes from local businesses and vendors.

Seventh floor librarian Harry Nuttall and sixth floor librarian Carley Knight greet students and guests at the library’s second annual Homecoming tailgate (photo by Cassidy Smith/The Chanticleer).

The goal was to create a comfortable and welcoming environment for both students and the Jacksonville community. “We want to send a message to the campus community that we are open and here for everyone,” explained Kim Westbrooks, the Business & Social Sciences librarian, who directed the event. “We strive to decrease library anxiety; the media portrays libraries as uninviting places with dusty old librarians who won’t even let you talk. But we are here to facilitate any and all research and to make lives easier.”

According to Westbrooks, the library is home to over 300 electronic databases (Westbrooks suggested libguides.jsu.edu) and 8000 books. The second-floor reference desk, which houses a librarian during all hours of operation, is available to help students navigate that overwhelming statistic.

Kim Westbrooks, the librarian who organized the tailgate party, stands at the third and fourth floor table (photo by Cassidy Smith/The Chanticleer).

For community members who are not JSU students (or for future alumni who plan to stick around Jacksonville), there is an option to become a “Friend of the Library,” which allows any member of the community to check out books and use the library resources for $30 a year.

The Library Tailgate was a “non-traditional method to bring more people into the library,” said Dean of Library Services John-Bauer Graham. “We’re trying something different that can appeal to everyone.”

To showcase and celebrate the unique themes of each floor, the corresponding librarian set up a table containing books from their floors, educational pictures and information, and their business cards to get in touch with them for help.

To get in touch with Kim Westbrooks, email kwestbrooks1@jsu.edu. For Dean Graham, jgraham@jsu.edu. 


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A directory of the Houston Cole Library shoes the content of each of the 12 floors. The library is the tallest academic building in the state of Alabama (photo via Jacksonville State University).


See more photos from the Library’s tailgate here! All photos by Hollie Ivey/The Chanticleer

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