Pierce Pioneer

Tacoma Public Library eliminates overdue fines

The Tacoma Public Library is eliminating overdue fines as of June 1, according to South Sound Business News. Director Kate Larson during a press meeting said that overdue fees from missing or damaged items that incurred a charge as far as Jan. 1, 2016, will no longer be owed. 

“This gives patrons who have been avoiding visiting their library due to outstanding charges the opportunity to start fresh,” Larson said. “We hope that this change will let our community know that their library values them and they are welcome here.”

The library had already stopped charging overdue fines in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. TPL will continue to follow their new policy, nonetheless. 

There is a difference between fines and fees however. Fees are when the book is damaged or lost, which the library will still oversee. On the other hand, fines are when the item is overdue which is what the library is getting rid of starting June 1. So go visit Tacoma Public Library again!

Teachers bring awareness to banned books

Censorship, freedom to read part of campus discussion

Pierce College supported the book community Oct. 11 as teachers brought awareness of banned books.

It is an event that supports the American Library Association goals which are to ‘raise the awareness about the harms of censorship and the freedom to read,’ according to tinyurl.com/ycslhxp.

The association said it annually holds the one-week event with the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers and readers — in shared support of the freedom to seek and express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

Psychology professor Tom Link held the first of the two-part event with an hour of discussion on why and how books are selected and banned.

Science professors Ralph Morasch and psychology professor Joanne Geron read banned books while answering questions in the Science Dome. The often-banned books read were “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams and “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie. 

A list of the most current banned books can be found at tinyurl.com/ycnnpm6x. This list combines books that are banned across the world.  It also encourages readers to challenge censorship and the ways they can do so. The association tracks and develops trends across the country on challenged books. 

Video of the event is available at tinyurl.com/ybkho6r6.

Library Moves to the Cloud

Pierce’s investment in cutting-edge resource tools for its library is an equal investment in its students

A new cloud-based software system, called Alma, went live last July on the college library system. This transition has been made by most of Washington State’s four-year institutions; however, Pierce is the first cohort of community and technical colleges to make the transition to Alma.

“The decision was made for two reasons,” says Christie Flynn, dean of library and learning resources.  “We knew that this innovation would ultimately benefit students and we wanted to get the system into students’ hands as soon as possible and we have a fantastic technical team who could do the work.”

With the transition to Alma, students now have enhanced research capabilities.  What used to require several individual searches by the student (i.e. web search, catalog search, database search) now is completed with one request.  Alma searches all available resource channels and streamlines the results at one time and in one place. Students will never see Alma, but will become familiar with its interface called Primo located on the library home page.

In addition to the library’s database subscriptions and physical library catalog (books, periodicals, etc), Primo/Alma looks to open access sources (free and shared scholarly information) such as the US National Library of Medicine, Project Gutenberg, the Directory of Open Access Journals and more.  This offers the Pierce student more research sources than before.

Giving students the opportunity to learn how to research using Primo/Alma was another consideration for the decision to transition.  Most of Washington’s universities have already switched to Alma. “Student success was at the center of our decision to move to Alma,” says Flynn. “Students will experience a more seamless transition to 4-year institutions and will be better prepared for lifelong learning.”

From an IT perspective moving to a cloud-based program means less software upgrades.  According to Lesley Caldwell, systems librarian and one of the faculty who oversaw the project, “Over the last 18 years there have been 9 upgraded versions to the library’s research software. Each time the IT Dept. would update each individual PC in the library. Now with the switch to Alma, the upgrades are done behind the scenes at ExLibris (the company that created Alma) and we receive a message from them letting us know of the changes.  It really saves a lot of time and effort on our part.”

Although the upgrade to Alma took place last July, Primo looks the same as it has in the past. When asked about the student experience with the new cloud-based system, reference & instruction librarian Kaitlyn Straton shares, “I don’t know if students have any notion that it’s different, but the search results are certainly better for the students.”

 “What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it feels about education,” said Harold Howe a leading American educator. Given that, Pierce College has strong feelings about education.


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