Texas Library Association
Doug Campbell is a Research and Instruction Services Librarian at the University of North Texas. From July 2012 until May 2013, Doug participated in the Faculty-in-Residence program at UNT. He lived in Kerr Hall with students majoring in one of his subject liaison specialties.
In August 1989, I began my student career in higher education at Stephen F. Austin State University, graduating with a bachelor of arts in 1993. I lived in the dorms that first semester, which ended up being the only semester that I lived on campus at SFA. I hated it. It smelled. It was noisy. My room was the furthest from the bathrooms. And, my roommate had a semester-long love crisis with his high school sweetheart that I heard about, every night, while he was on the telephone with her. Because of the housing policy at SFA, I felt trapped, destined to live in the dorms for the next two years because my parents or an immediate family member 21 years or older did not live within 30 miles of Nacogdoches. *screech!* Wait! What was that? I only needed to have an immediate family member live within 30 miles of Nac-o-nowhere, then I could live with him off-campus, out of the dorms, in an apartment or something? By nature, I am a schemer, so I was determined to find a loophole and a work-around to my housing situation. The plotting began.
One year earlier, in August 1988, my 20-year old brother transferred from Grayson County College to the University of Texas in Austin. He loved it, but it did not love him back. By the end of the spring semester 1989, he found himself academically suspended from UT, returning home that summer. He was on probation for the fall of 1989, trying to figure out what he wanted to do and where to finish college. He turned 21 in August 1989, so began recruiting him to SFA. My plan was brilliant. He could apply to SFA for Spring 1990, move to Nac in January, and we could live together, off-campus, like a family should. I was saved. My brother’s academic downfall was my domestic saving grace. We both graduated from SFA, and I never having to live in the dorms again. But…
23 years, 4 degrees (1 undergrad, 3 grad), 2 marriages, and 1 cat later, I did something that I never could have conceived of doing again in my lifetime. I voluntarily moved back on campus…in the dorms. This time I did it not as a student, but as a faculty-in-residence at the University of North Texas where librarians have faculty status. My supervisor encouraged me to look into the program the year before where I could live in a small one-bedroom apartment that had been converted from a two-room suite of dorm rooms with a bathroom separating each room. One room was my bedroom. The other room, a bit larger, consisted of a small kitchen and a living/dining room. After living in a smaller garage apartment studio for almost two years, I thought that living in a bigger space would be nice for my cat, Joey, and me.Not to mention, I received free rent, free utilities, free internet access, and plenty of neighbors, almost 1000 to be more exact in Kerr Hall, the largest residence hall on the UNT campus.
I learned many things while living in Kerr. The first was to stop calling residence halls, dorms. The term is antiquated, so I was told. Okay. I can live with that. I also learned that my greatest fear turned out to be unsound. The last time that I lived with hundreds of 18-19 year olds, they were noisy. I am a relatively quiet person. I am a librarian for crying out loud.I lived on the sixth floor of A tower in Kerr (the building on the right), and I lived mostly with journalism students (I am the library liaison to the Mayborn School of Journalism) who were members of one of the several REAL (Residents Engaged in Academic Living) communities. These “are communities within the residence halls that bring students together who share the same major or interest.” They were great! They are smart, creative, and serious (mostly) about school. And, for the most part, they were not so noisy even for a quiet librarian like me. In exchange for all the perks, my primary responsibility was to formally and informally interact and engage with the residents of Kerr. I could do that.
Along with saying hi and chatting with as many students as I met in Kerr, a recurring event that I organized was the Kerr Coffee Club, where on late mornings or early afternoons on Saturdays, I took students across campus to a popular local coffee shop, Big Mike’s (left). There were only a handful of students who joined me each time, so it was a great opportunity to get to know them.
A big event that I planned at the end of the spring semester was a trip to the famous downtown square in Denton on Free Comic Book Day, which is held on the first Saturday in May each year. This happened to be the Saturday before finals’ week, so it was a great way to have fun on a sunny day at the local comics shop, More Fun Comics, before getting serious about studying for exams.
The residence hall staff really supported me with advertising. They made this poster for the lobby, which is the best, yet lowest tech, way to reach students with information.
Other than meeting some great students and residence hall staff members, the best program that I organized was Homework Help, where I offered reference services in the lobby of Kerr Hall for two hours each week. During the fall semester, I set up a sign and some goodies each Sunday night from 10:00PM-Midnight.
Again, the residence life staff was great about advertising for me (below). While I had pretty good business catching students as they were coming back to Kerr from their respective homes (or wherever they went on the weekends), I decided to try a different day and time during the spring semester. I set up shop in the lobby on Tuesday evenings from 6:00-8:00PM, catching the dinner and post-dinner crowd coming in and out of the Kerr Hall cafeteria, the largest on campus. I also had good crowds during this time. I will continue the Homework Help service this year in Kerr from 5:00-7:00PM on Tuesdays, adding lunch time service from 11:00AM-1:00PM in the lobby of Bruce Hall. Bruce has the second largest cafeteria on campus, which was renovated and expanded over the summer.Homework Help, and my entire experience as an embedded librarian in Kerr Hall, has been a great outreach opportunity for UNT Libraries and our services to students. To many of the students in Kerr, I became “their librarian” or “the Kerr librarian.” One night when I was getting a pizza at J&J’s on the square, I was asked by one of their pizza delivery guys, “Hey, are you Kerr Doug?” I loved it. Of course, I ended up telling him about the library and for him to email me if he had any research needs as I gave him a business card, which I often do with students. Some of my coworkers call it “the Doug treatment.”
In March, I bought a house and moved there in May after the semester was over. I said goodbye to Kerr, treasuring my experience as a live-in librarian. Although I do not anticipate living in the dorms, I mean, a residence hall, again, I will never say never again.
Here is a link to Doug’s contact information if you have any questions about his experiences as a Faculty-in-Residence.