Scott Seaman is the kind of person who brings in his own Coke if he wants to drink it on a Pepsi-dominated campus.
Seaman, the dean of Ohio University Libraries, plans to retire Dec. 31 after spending 10 years in that position.
It is because of Seaman that Alden Library gets more visitors than it ever has before, as he goes out of his way to focus on student spaces. He started, developed and launched a multi-phase renovation project of the library, which is still taking place.
When Seaman first started in 2008, there was no Colab — — and there were no digital archives at Alden Library. With the help of Seaman’s multi-phase project, the library was able to renovate without ever having to shut down, Kelly Broughton, the assistant dean of Research and Education Services, said.
Seaman took multiple initiatives to make sure that students had access to efficient, accessible and affordable course materials, even if it meant caring about the most miniscule of things, such as the color of the furniture.
Janet Hulm, assistant dean for collections and digitization strategies, said Seaman is very focused on presenting the library in a positive way to the university and to the outside world, to our donors and our friends and our colleagues.
Seaman’s attention to student-centered spaces and staff development will be his most important legacy, Broughton said. He expects the librarians to participate in their profession, to learn from people and to bring those practices to Alden.
“Scott really has made a real difference in our librarians and the library support staff’s outlook, understanding and willingness to look externally to our peers — even our aspirational peers — and find solutions to problems and adapt them for really making things better here,” Broughton said. “He really, really, really encouraged — not only encouraged, but expected — us to participate in our profession to be involved with the librarians and in the activities of academic libraries in the state.
Seaman carefully chose the tables and chairs for students as he knew they have an impact on students’ behavior. Broughton gave an example where Seaman spent his time trying to find a perfect table for the fifth floor of Alden Library, which was not too big so students can make a bigger group or not too small so students were forced to join the tables.
“A lot of thoughtful and experimental work at looking at what type of furnitures students use, what they don’t use, placing it in a place where it matters and making it attractive so that they want to be there in the first place,” Broughton said.
Hulm also said Seaman cared about the student spaces.
“He was always very concerned with how students use furniture and space and was interested in developing a library that works for students and is still aesthetically pleasing,” Hulm said. “He considered it an investment and not just a remodel.”
Seaman worked with the university planners to help develop a location for CoLab on the third floor of the library.
“The mission of CoLab is very complementary to what the library does,” Broughton said. “We, from research, know that students choose the library over other places to do their academic work because they want to be, in part, be around students who are doing the same type of thing, to be motivated by the space and by their fellow students.”
Seaman’s master plan was broken into five to six phases and designed in a way where the library never has to stop working.
Some other aspects of the master plan, such as access controls for overnight hours and updating the elevators, have also been completed.
“Scott would always say that this is just a visionary,” Broughton said. “This is just outlines of where we want to go and will need to be refined and tweaked as time moves on and priorities change and opportunities come about.”
Broughton said the final phase of the master plan, which is still underway, is going to envision the Park Place entrance of the library to make it more appealing to the general public.
“We want to build an inviting entrance and try to help students understand the variety of opportunities within the building,” Broughton said.