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Saint Leo 360 Podcast

Episode 51: Exploring Saint Leo University’s Daniel A. Cannon Memorial Library

Posted by Greg Lindberg on January 18, 2022
Episode 51: Exploring Saint Leo University’s Daniel A. Cannon Memorial Library

Download Episode 51 Transcript

Speaker 1:
St. Leo 360, a 360 degree overview of the St. Leo University community.

Greg Lindberg:
Hello and welcome to another episode of the St. Leo 360 podcast. This is your host Greg Lindberg. Here on this episode of the podcast, we are speaking about the Daniel A. Cannon Memorial Library here at St. Leo University. To help us do so, I'd like to welcome Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit, who is the university librarian in the Daniel A. Cannon Memorial Library here at St. Leo.

Greg Lindberg:
Dr. Van Kampen-Breit, welcome to the podcast.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. I appreciate your time. Let's kick off the conversation here and answer a question that I'm definitely curious about, who exactly is Daniel A. Cannon?

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Daniel A. Cannon was actually the husband of Mrs. Elizabeth Cannon, who was ... It was a local family, ranching and farming. They had quite a bit of land in the area. He died fairly young. He was a 1938 graduate and class [inaudible 00:01:31] of St. Leo University. His widow donated $500,000 towards the expansion of the library in 1985.

Greg Lindberg:
Oh, wow. Definitely many years later after he graduated.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Yes. That money was used to expand the library and put on the second floor of the library and make room for larger print collections as well as computer lab space. We have a lot to thank the Cannon family for. We really appreciate that donation.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. That's awesome. What a great little story as well, just of our alumni giving back to the university. Then let's also just get into a brief history of the library in terms of development and how it's grown over time and anything you'd like to mention as far as the history of the facility.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Well, the library has a pretty interesting history because, as you know, St. Leo started as something besides a university. In the 1920s, the collections were founded, actually before the 1920s, by some of the founding families of St. Leo. Those collections were housed in the men's monastery and were the core of the collection.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
It wasn't until 1958 that the library had its own building.

Greg Lindberg:
Wow. Very interesting. So many years later obviously.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Yes. The library was formally established in 1890 and the first few books were a paperbound Octavo set of Dickens work contributed by Abbot Charles Moore. There were obviously other books donated around the same time. With the collection being heavily weighted at that time to religious works and government publications.

Greg Lindberg:
I see. Very interesting. Then I know you did mention back in the '80s, it sounds like the library did expand in terms of size as well.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Yes. The library started back in 1890 and then from 1890 to 1958, it was housed at the men's monastery. You know, the men and women [inaudible 00:03:47] of St. Leo were very involved and very instrumental in the life and history of the university. It was through their dedicated efforts that many of the resources were first established, providing the foundation for later growth.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
The library started similarly by donations from some of the founding families and founding monks, and so we have to be really grateful for everything they built across St. Leo.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely and everything we've been able to preserve since then is pretty amazing. I did want to give you a chance to just introduce yourself as far as your background and then also speak about your role as university librarian.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Well, yes. My name is, as you know, Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit and I'm in my 21st year here at St. Leo University. I really have enjoyed the time I've had here. It's been very much a blessing. I started part-time as a consultant for the library when they were moving from one computer system to another computer system and they needed someone to do the migration.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
At the time, I was working on my doctorate and thought, "Well, this is going to be a great place to land for a few years. People are very nice, it's not that far from home. It's less than an hour, at the time. I don't think I'll be here more than just long enough to finish my doctorate."

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Well, it's 21 years later and I'm still here because St. Leo is such a unique and special place. I've held a lot of different roles in the university library over that time period. My most recent role is as the head of the library.

Greg Lindberg:
Wow. Very cool. How long have you been in your current position?

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
I've been in my current position for four years.

Greg Lindberg:
I see. Very nice. Let's also talk about just the library staff, in general, and the team that you have assembled there.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
We have a great library team at the university. We currently have two writing faculty, who are here to support our students and faculty in their writing efforts. We don't edit works of any kind, whether it's faculty or student works.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
What they do is they help you grow as a writing. Even I today, even though, I've got more than 30 publications to my name, even I will sometimes say, "Hey, can you take a look at this because I'm struggling with this section. I don't feel like it flows that well." You know, they'll give me some feedback and say, "You're right. You need a transitional sentence here. You're using a lot of really long sentences. You're getting a little wordy." Things like that. Even though, I feel like I'm a fairly accomplished writer, even today, they are a great big help to me.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
For students who are just starting off in their efforts to grow as a writer, we have two amazing team members who are definitely very helpful for students, whether they're just starting out in formulating their ideas, whether they need to understand better what a thesis statement is, they're not quite sure what an annotated bibliography is, they can help with all of that.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Then our librarians compliment the whole research and writing process. We have 11 library faculty, several of them are dedicated to our online students, then we also have our university campus librarians and a center librarian. You can find us embedded in many courses and visible and available online through chat. We love to interact with our students and love hearing from our students on how they're doing and how their grades are doing. We can help them wrestle with going from a really broad topic such as global warming to something more narrowly focused and that they can write a reasonable paper on.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
For example, in the global warming paper topic for the global warming class, they have to write a culminating paper at the end of that class. It counts for a reasonable amount of that grade. They can say, "Oh, well, global warming." That's a huge topic, right? But you can break it down and say, "Okay, well, let's just talk about how global warming is affecting crops in Florida" or how global warming is affecting sea grasses that feed our manatees in the springs of Florida. There's all kinds of ways you can wrestle with it and get it to a much more manageable piece of the apple. Instead of trying to eat the apple whole, you take manageable bites out of the apple.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
We can help students with that for all of their classes, help them understand how to narrow and focus their research in a way that's interesting to themselves but also meets the criteria of the class.

Greg Lindberg:
Right. I see. That's such a great point. I think with libraries a lot of times a student walks in and they're just overwhelmed by the number of resources and everything available to them and the fact that you guys really work one on one, like you said, to help students narrow the research and really hone in on exactly what they're looking for. It's wonderful.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Yes. A lot of our faculty require that you use peer-reviewed resources and we can help steer the students towards those resources in whatever field they're in, whether it be our new nursing program or our robotics program. We can really assist and support our students. We don't want them to feel lost in the library, whether they're online or in person. We want them to feel like they can approach us and we are available for them.

Greg Lindberg:
Exactly. Very well stated. Let's dive a little further into the resources that are available to students, whether it's print books, digital information, digital resources. Just give me an overview of everything that's actually available and out there for students.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Okay. Well, this is going to make someone feel like information overload. After just talking about the fact that they can feel kind of lost in the number of resources we have because we have 134 databases, anywhere from PubMed, which is published by the National Library of Medicine, to EBSCO, Criminal Justice Abstracts full text, Psych Info, psych articles, soc index. We have some nursing resources. We have just so many resources.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
It is easy to begin to feel a little lost inside of those resources and, again, reaching out to us to assist you and support you is sometimes the best way. Instead of spending an hour or two hours flailing around, hoping that you're locating the right resource, if you reach out to us, we can help you usually in just a few minutes to locate the correct resource and the appropriate types of information that you're looking for.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
We do have more than 500,000 e-books.

Greg Lindberg:
Wow.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
And about 175,000 print volumes. Though, again, you can feel kind of lost when you start talking about those big numbers but we are here to help you every step of the way. Our building is fairly small actually for an academic library. It's only three floors. Our circulating collection is on the top floor and it's a great place to study and look out over the lake and hang out with your friends. We don't look at this space as simply a place to study or use the resources. It's also a great place to hang out with your friends.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
The library is no longer just a really quiet studious place, shh. No. It's there for you to use as a place, as a gathering point for your friends. Yes, we don't want you to get super loud and rambunctious and play football, which has happened, I have found people playing Nerf ball once or twice, but we do want you to feel like this is your place and your space to come and study and meet with your friends and be a little bit social as well. We really enjoy seeing our students and seeing them in our spaces.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
We also have two computer classrooms and a computer lab. We have two sleep pods available for use by our students, especially our commuter students who might not have other spaces around campus where they can rest and relax. They can be here long hours. Currently, our hours that we are open until midnight, Sunday through Thursday. Fridays and Saturdays, we have shorter hours because we know students need down time too. We close at five o'clock on Saturday and Friday.

Greg Lindberg:
Got you. Yeah. I'm so glad you mentioned the views that students can get from the library of the lake and the fact it's also just a nice community gathering spot. Like you said, that stereotype of a library as a place where you have to be very quiet and serious. There's so much more to it than that.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
No. You can bring drinks in. You can bring friends in. You can bring some food in. We discourage pizza and other kind of bug-attracting foods but we don't mind if you're having a snack in the library. That's not the issue. The issue is to just kind of not have a snack that attracts pests.

Greg Lindberg:
Exactly. Yeah. Then a little more on technology. I understand that there are laptops available to students as well.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Well, currently, do it is in charge of the laptop lending program and so currently if a student needs to borrow a laptop for a semester or some other time-limited period, they would go to do it to do that. We used to do laptop lending for short periods of time like seven days but with the pandemic, it became clear that that wasn't really the best use of that resource, and so do it has taken it over and they can rent laptops I believe for a semester at a time rather than us loaning them out for seven days. Quite frequently, students would come back and say, "Well, my laptop is not fixed yet" or it was unfixable, "I need another seven days" and then, "I need another seven days."

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
It was kind of meant as a stop-gap solution and so that currently has been handed over to do it and that may change as things change but currently we don't have laptops to loan. We do have desktop computers situated throughout the library. We have about 110 of them available for use.

Greg Lindberg:
Got you. Certainly, wifi, I'm sure is available across the library.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Yes. Yes. We have printing. It's the new Xerox printers, find me, which is quite convenient. You swipe your card and the print job will appear on whatever printer you're using in the building.

Greg Lindberg:
Right. Very neat. Very convenient. If you just want to touch on a little more about as far as academic support services, so I would imagine no matter the program that a student is enrolled in, the library can support all students, undergrad, grad, correct?

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Correct. We support undergraduate, graduate, doctoral level students. We can assist with thesis writing. We can assist with dissertations. We can assist with freshmen writing. We can assist with freshmen searching. We currently have ... I'll just give an example. We had a doctoral student contact us recently in the education department and she was looking for some very specific materials that we did not have but we know we can get them through inter-library loan, which is where we contact other libraries and say, "We need access to this publication", whether it's a book, a journal article. We've gotten things from Africa, we've gotten things from Alaska.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
We can get it, even if it's not on this continent. Usually. Once in a while, we'll have a problem but it's rare. We, in return, do the same thing. We loan out our collections, because we have some fairly esoteric things that are kind of unique to a Catholic institution. Even the Library of Congress has on occasion contacted us and asked us for something but, yes, we can definitely help a student. It doesn't matter what their program is. We have librarians who can assist with their search terms, their topics. Anything that they are in need of that's related to projects or papers.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
We will either have the availability to assist them or on occasion, we will refer them to someone else but normally ... Sometimes it's a question that they ask us that really only their faculty member can answer and so sometimes we have to say, "We can help you in this general way but you're asking a very course-specific question" so sometimes you have to refer back to your professor and talk to them for that. We are definitely here and available to assist our students.

Greg Lindberg:
Right. I see. That's wonderful. I know you did briefly mention as far as staff who support online and education center students who we have and if you could just elaborate a little more on that support and what students who are not at university campus can really expect from the library.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
The library has a chat feature on its website. We average about 800 chats on an average month. We can do Zoom sessions with our students. We can ... Sometimes a student will contact us and say, "I'm really struggling with this assignment in my course and I need help with this assignment, finding the right resources."

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
When we've chatted back and forth, maybe for a minute or two or three and we realize this is going to be a more in-depth conversation, that they might not want to do simply by chatting, we'll usually ask the student, "Would you like to do a Zoom session? We can either do it now or schedule it for when it is convenient for you." Usually, you will continue working with the same person that you initially chatted with. Once in a while that doesn't work but normally it does.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Then we will get into Zoom and we will share our screen or have the student share their screen and we will walk them through the search process and help them help themselves understand the process, so that they don't feel so lost, and so that they have more confidence for the next time. That's what the whole goal is to really help our students to be confident in their capabilities and capacity to answer whatever life throws at them, even when they leave St. Leo.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
We still have alumni who contact us who have gone on to other things, either careers or colleges for grad school and an area that we might not offer something, like law school, and they'll contact us and say, "Hey, you guys have been so much more helpful than the place I'm at now. Would you mind helping me now?" Or they'll contact us and say, "Hey, I'm in this job and my boss has asked me to do this research and Google is not cutting it. Can you help me now?" We're like, "Of course, we can. You're still our student, even if you've graduated. You're still part of St. Leo and we want to be there for you."

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Yes. We can help a student from the time they get here until well after they leave. We will, at least, guide them to the right resources if we cannot get it directly for them but we normally can get things for our students and sometimes even our alumni. We do have a reputation of being there and caring for our students.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
We have two online librarians dedicated to just primarily our online students, whether they're graduate or undergraduate. We have another nine librarians who work both online and in person. We are there pretty much seven days a week to assist. We are not open, obviously, 24/7 but even if we're not open at a time you might email or call at two or three in the morning, if you leave a message or use the Lib Answers form, we are usually back to you within 12 hours or less.

Greg Lindberg:
Wow. That's really, really amazing, I must say. I hand it to your team for that dedication and being there for everybody.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
I have an amazing team. I do. I have an amazing team.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. Then just a little more on students who are off university campus. I understand that you will mail materials and that you also do partner with some of the local libraries out there?

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Yes. You do have the ability to contact us and if it's a print book in our collection we are happy to mail it to you. Then what happens is we put a mailing label inside of the box, we send it to you or inside of the envelope. Then you take that label, pay the postage, and send it back to us. Anything we have in our print collections, we can usually get it to you. If it's a print journal article, we can scan it and email it. If you just need a chapter out of a book, you might not want to pay postage for one chapter. We can scan and send that one chapter to you and have it to you a lot more quickly than the mail.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
We can't scan entire books. Sometimes we will get requests from a student to ask if we can purchase a book as an e-book. We do our best to try and do that as well. We have grown our collection of e-books by what they call patron-driven acquisitions where the students or the faculty say, "Hey, we really could use access to this book. Can you get it as an e-book?" Sometimes we can, sometimes we can't. Textbooks are much harder to get as e-books, the vendors don't necessarily allow access to textbooks but a lot of other things for supplemental research, we can.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Yes. We do partner with other academic libraries where our centers are located. You can also ask for ... If your local academic library allows for community borrowing privileges, but charges a fee for that, we also will supplement and pay for that community patron card up to a limit.

Greg Lindberg:
Oh, wow. Very cool. I know that the library does host a number of events throughout the academic year. I've actually had the chance to attend some poetry readings and whatnot, some really cool events. I guess if you want to give an overview of some of the events that you guys offer.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
We did a banned books week, a pop-up checkout that was back in October of 2021. Basically, took some of our print books that had been banned at various times in their printed lives and we ... Like Uncle Tom's Cabin, Tom Sawyer, probably everyone knows those have been banned, Fahrenheit 451 has been banned, Harry Potter has been banned. They might not necessarily have been banned in Florida but they've been banned somewhere in the United States or elsewhere.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
We took a collection of about 100 books over to the cafeteria during banned books week and we checked out 50 of them in two hours. We thought that was an amazing result.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
We've had poets come to the library. We've had musicians come to the library. For Halloween, we had a paint a plate and listen to an open mic night, so people could get up and read an excerpt from a ghost story or tell a ghost story. They could read something from one of the books we provided if they just felt like reading something that was already available. We had Ambrose Spears and some of the other fairly well known ghostly authors. That was a pretty big hit. We thought that went well.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
We have had from Monsters and the Monsters literature course, some of the on ground students came into the library and dressed up for that and that was fun that they came in dressed up as their favorite monster from the literature. That was kind of a neat thing.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
We've had some fairly well known national authors and poets come and speak. Some of them have come online, some of them have come in person. We had the author of the Gulf, a book about the history of the Gulf of Mexico. He was here in 2020. That went really, really well. We had more than 150 attendees for that. We paired with a couple of departments during Black Lives Matter, you know, a few months ago and we paired with them on that topic and hosted an event on that. That went really well as well.

Greg Lindberg:
Sure. I love just the variety of ideas and events and everything. It's going back to what you were saying about how the library is a community, essentially, and I think these events underscore that theme. It's a place for people to gather and, obviously, reading research is a huge part of it but it's so much more beyond that.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Yes. It is. Our Recharge With Reading clubs, we have doubled that dog dare you, we have Hispanic authors, we have a number in variety of groups that could be joined. We also have one group that is online in Lion's Share. I know Lion's Share is taking a hiatus for a month or two but when it comes back, we are assuming that we will have that book discussion club going again inside of the new Lion's Share platform. That one, you can read whatever you want and post about it in that group to say, "Hey, I'm reading about ..." The topic is community. You say, "Hey, I'm reading this book and it's related to community in this way."

Greg Lindberg:
Sure. Very cool. Okay. Then just to wrap up here, as far as contact info, if you'd just like to go ahead and provide the contact info, how students or even prospective students can reach the library.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Students and prospective students can email us at Library at St. Leo.LibAnswers.com. They can call us at 1-800-359-5945. They can drop in and see us. We'd love to see you in person if you're visiting the campus and taking a tour. We always love to see our tour groups and individual students as well who are just kicking the tires, checking us out. St. Leo is an amazing place and definitely you should come and kick the tires and see us.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. I know I've spoken to a number of current students and alumni who saw some of those views outside the windows of the library and that really sold them to attend. If nothing, that alone, is a great selling point.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
It is. We have a great view from the second floor and the first floor of the library. Basement, there's really no view other than at the emergency exit. There is really nice views out the others. You can even see the discus golf station. There's one right behind the library and one on the side of the library.

Greg Lindberg:
Oh, cool. Very neat. All right. Well, again, we've been visiting with Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit, who is the university library here at St. Leo University. Dr. Van Kampen-Breit, really appreciate the time and insight and thank you so much for joining us here on the podcast.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Thank you for inviting me. It's so great to spend a few minutes talking about a subject that I love. I love libraries. I grew up in libraries in some ways, because we lived next door to one when I was tiny. That was what our parents would do to keep us busy. I love libraries and I would love to pass that passion onto others, because they're amazing places with amazing people who have dreams and ideas and they're just great places to hang out and get to know people.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. Such a unique place, unique environment. It's just such an amazing place to be for sure. All right. Again, thank you so much. Dr. Van Kampen-Breit, it's been a pleasure.

Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit:
Thank you very much.

Speaker 1:
To hear more episodes of the St. Leo 360 Podcast, visit St. Leo.edu/podcast. To learn more about St. Leo's programs and services, call 877-622-2009 or visit St. Leo.edu.

Episode Summary

In this episode of the Saint Leo 360 podcast, we welcome Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit, the University librarian at Saint Leo University, to discuss the Daniel A. Cannon Memorial Library. She spoke about:

  • The background on who Daniel A. Cannon was and the Cannon’s family connection to Saint Leo University
  • A brief history of the library
  • A bio of herself and her role as University Librarian
  • An overview of the library staff
  • Print books, materials, and technology available to Saint Leo students
  • Online materials and resources available to students
  • Research and academic support services available to students
  • How the library serves online and education center students
  • A variety of events held or sponsored by the library
  • Contact info for the library

Links & Resources

Learn more about the Daniel A. Cannon Memorial Library at Saint Leo University.

Contact the library by phone at (800) 359-5945 or via email.

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