New Eckles director wants to bring more students to Vern library

Media Credit: Julia Abriola | Hatchet Photographer

David Lemmons will become the new leader of Eckles Library on the Mount Vernon Campus later this month.

Eckles Library is beginning a fresh chapter with a new director starting later this month.

David Lemmons will become the new leader of the Mount Vernon Campus’s library later this month after the current interim director leaves for a new position outside of GW. Lemmons says he would like to make Eckles a destination for all students, and not just those who live on the Vern.

Geneva Henry, the dean of libraries and academic innovation, said Lemmons arrived at Eckles Feb. 27 after a national search. She said he was widely recognized at Stratford University – where he previously worked – for his passion for teaching and creative leadership.

“We are thrilled to add David’s particular combination of knowledge, experience managing a small library and inclusive approach to teamwork and team-building to GW Libraries,” Henry said.

GW students are, shall we say, more engaged in pretty much all senses of the word.

Lemmons said one aspect of student life at GW that is markedly different from Stanford is how connected students are with the University and with D.C.

“GW students are, shall we say, more engaged in pretty much all senses of the word,” Lemmons said. “More engaged with their campus, more passionate about making GW better and a lot of students, particularly those who live on the Vern, are very engaged and involved in Eckles.”

In his new position, Lemmons said he wants to increase the number of students who visit the library, especially students who live in Foggy Bottom and may not visit Eckles Library because it is on the Vern.

“I want to make Eckles a destination,” Lemmons said. “Students should check us out if they haven’t been here in a while or they’ve only been here five times in their time at GW.”

He said he likes to develop one-on-one connections with students, but that it can be difficult to draw in students who view libraries as antiquated or no longer useful with the rise of online resources.

“There’s a lot more to a library, particularly to Eckles, than books and quiet study time,” Lemmons said. “We do fun events, and I go out and I teach in classrooms, and I’m not particularly quiet, as a human.”

Libraries, in general, are assets to college students, specifically students working on research projects. He added that in the “age of Google,” the main issue with research isn’t finding too few answers, it’s information overload.

There’s a lot more to a library, particularly to Eckles, than books and quiet study time.

“If you need help finding the exactly right piece of information for the exact thing you’re working on, librarians can help you go to the right places online to find the exact right answer to your questions,” Lemmons said.

The now-interim director of Eckles Library, Zachary Elder, is scheduled to leave for a new position at the Newport News Public Library in Virginia after April 13.

Faculty said they liked working with Elder and that they are interested to see what Lemmons will bring to the role.

Michael Svoboda, an assistant professor of writing, said Elder would often help him design new projects for his classes, like a scavenger hunt in Gelman Library designed to teach students how to effectively locate resources in a library.

“I’ve never had any complaints,” Svoboda said. “We’ve worked together quite well and experimented with some things in my classrooms that I had thought advanced both of our interests.”

Freshman Ana Stieglitz, an employee at Eckles Library, said that when she first started working at Eckles she was worried about having too little experience with working in an academic environment, but that Elder made her feel comfortable.

“My disappointment about Mr. Elder’s departure was only equal to his own,” Stieglitz said. “Although I have only known Mr. Elder for a short period, perhaps it is a little cliché, but I feel as if I have known him for years.”

Stieglitz said she is happy to welcome Lemmons to the “Eckles family” and said both directors have demonstrated genuine interest in and care for Eckles staff and students.

“It has been a breath of fresh air to have had Mr. Elder and now Mr. Lemmons, directors who have both proven that they genuinely care about their jobs,” Stieglitz said.

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