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Jensen Davis Wins 2019 FOL Scholarship

Congratulations to UMKC student Jensen Davis, winner of the 2019 Friends of the Library Scholarship!

Davis is a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at UMKC and will graduate in May 2022. As a psychologist in training, her clinical and research interests are with healthy aging. Her future plans involve specialized training in clinical neuropsychology with a post-doctoral position. 

Davis was selected for her essay response to the following prompt:

In May of 2018, Kansas State University’s Hale Library suffered substantial smoke and water damage due to an accidental roof fire. This unforeseen event caused the library to find creative ways to provide services to their students and meet their needs. Now, imagine the doors to one of the UMKC libraries are barred and a sign states "due to circumstances beyond our control access to the library has been suspended for the rest of year." Consider the many ways you use the UMKC libraries, and write on the impact of such a notice, on a personal and institutional level.

You can read the winning essay below!


A Healthy Library is a Healthy Campus

Any given day on the University of Missouri’s Kansas City campus, I might pass a student rushing to the library to print off an essay mere minutes before handing it into her professor. Another student, a bit more proactive, is on her way to pick up source materials for a presentation that is not due for months. It is extraordinary to think about how ubiquitous libraries are in student life and how much different the college experience would be if their resources were not readily available. Last year, Kansas State University experienced major disruption to campus functionality after their library was damaged in a fire, forcing a prolonged closure of the building. This prompted the University to adapt quickly but not having a central location for a library’s services likely diminished its helpfulness.

Given libraries’ centrality to campus life, this closing probably had widespread effects. I, myself, use UMKC’S library resources on an almost daily basis and continue to discover their many helpful services. They give essential support and opportunities. Many fellow students, and Kansas City residents, benefit from campus libraries in myriad ways. They are preferred study spaces for many. Others might enjoy looking at art exhibits, learning new skills at seminars, or renting supplies needed to complete class projects.  Libraries are also reliable means to internet access, crucial to succeed in coursework and in today’s environment of information technology. However a patron decides to use them, campus libraries are the heart and soul of a learning institution and its surrounding community—things get accomplished at libraries that make the whole campus and community stronger. Detrimental effects would be felt university and citywide if UMKC’s libraries were not functioning at full capacity.

Personally, I would be immeasurably affected if what had happened to Kansas State’s library happened at UMKC. The resources and opportunities libraries offer play a large role in my current and continued success. My chosen area of study is in clinical psychology. In addition to growing my clinical skills, part of my training is becoming an accomplished researcher in my specialty, health behaviors in older adults. The latter competency is largely reliant on my ability to do comprehensive reviews of extant literature. I spend hours poring over peer-reviewed articles to keep up with field trends that guide my research questions. Libraries at UMKC have been instrumental to this process and have made me a more effective writer as well. The convenience it provides has saved me time and money. I have been loaned countless hard copies from Miller Nichols Library that otherwise would have been prohibitively expensive, and without which would have lessened the robustness of my literature searches. Quick delivery of interlibrary loans and the librarians that have helped tailor my database searches have been immensely valuable as well. The services I use are endless and a change to any of them would make doctoral study all the more challenging.

Though inconvenient, with some creative problem-solving, I would not be as disadvantaged as others would be after a campus library closing. A greater source of concern comes from how Kansas State’s library closing affected its underprivileged students and the university as a whole.  As an instructor, I know how important libraries are for making student success more equitable. Whether my students are using the library to gain free access to required textbooks or Microsoft Office to complete essays and presentations, limited support has devasting effects on individual performance. An adage in psychology courses asserts a cause and effect relationship between going to class and grades. The same could be said for library use and student achievement. An interruption in library resources would affect all students, especially those whose resources are already limited.

Universities should make every effort to foster the success of all students, but the singular library environment would be difficult to reproduce. I do not believe UMKC would be able to find equivalent supplementary resources to aid individual scholarship in the interim. Other buildings would have to be designated for use, taking away one attractive asset of services being housed in one place—convenience. Having to go to many places around campus for these resources would discourage my use of them. I believe this would be deterrent for many others as well. Performance would subsequently suffer. This domino effect would be seen by professors that would need to reevaluate their curriculum and assignments. It may even taint the reputation of the university as well if satisfactory alternatives were not provided.

I mentioned before how campus libraries are the heart and soul of a university. The more I think of it, the more I stick by the appropriateness of that claim. Disrupting access to campus libraries, even if only for a few months, is analogous to the functional decline of a vital bodily organ. Other parts of the body would suffer damaging effects as well. The best remedy is to restore the organ to its original function. Everything else will fall into place.

Posted: April 30, 2019