The week of April 4-10 was National Library Week, a time to highlight the essential role libraries, librarians and library workers play in transforming lives and strengthening communities.

The theme for this year’s National Library Week was “Welcome to Your Library,” promoting the idea that libraries extend beyond the walls of a building and that everyone is welcome to use their services. Whether people visit virtually or in person, libraries are accessible and inclusive places that foster a sense of belonging and community through learning, discovery and exploration.

“National Library Week makes me reflect on the value of the Laupus Library to the Division of Health Sciences, and particularly how the library employees and I can continue to support and partner with our colleagues in the health sciences in new and innovative ways,” said Laupus Director Beth Ketterman. “The level of creative thinking we’ve engaged in to meet needs when our doors were shut for so long is a reflection of the spirit and professionalism of our team, and I’m so proud of that this year.”

Most people think of a library as a physical place. The pandemic made clear that libraries are much more than buildings — libraries are the people that keep them running and the communities they serve.

The American Library Association has observed National Library Week for more than 60 years, highlighting the important work of libraries and their staffs in their communities.

Academic Library Services at ECU celebrated the week while recognizing the creativity, adaptability and dedication of its staff as they’ve worked to support students and faculty over the past year, when visiting the library building was not always an option.

When the university shifted to virtual learning last spring, the library provided 100 laptop computers for long-term loan to students who otherwise would not have been able to continue their studies. Other equipment loans, including Wi-Fi hotspots and webcams, helped keep students connected.

The circulation team shipped books, scanned and emailed documents and articles, and continued interlibrary loan services to ensure that students continued to have access to the resources they needed. Virtual assistance services expanded, allowing students to speak or chat with a librarian for research help. Librarians helped faculty transition course materials online and made virtual visits to classes.

In a typical year, the library hosts exhibits and events that bring the community together. With building access limited, staff hosted online workshops and lectures, and created digital versions of physical exhibits.

When students returned to campus, the library building looked a little different, with plexiglass at service desks and hand sanitizing stations among the changes. With masks, library staff may look a little different as well, but they remain committed to serving the campus community in person and virtually.

Read more about the National Library Week celebrations at Joyner and Laupus libraries.


Dental school creates fund to support care for veterans

A newly created fund in the ECU School of Dental Medicine will help offset the costs of vital dental care for U.S. military veterans.

The ECU Smiles for Veterans Patient Care Fund, part of the school’s innovative Patient Care Funds program through the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation and ECU Advancement , comes in the wake of success of the school’s events geared toward veteran care.

Since 2018, the School of Dental Medicine has provided free dental care for more than 120 veterans in western North Carolina at its community service learning center in Sylva during ECU Smiles for Veterans events.

The annual Smiles for Veterans event serves pre-screened veterans who need a variety of dental procedures; faculty, residents and students from the school and local offices provide the care. ECU Smiles for Veterans originated through a partnership between the ECU School of Dental Medicine, NC Serves–Western and the Smoky Mountains Outreach Foundation — which has since shifted to the Veteran Smiles Foundation .

“The success of the ECU Smiles for Veterans events in Sylva led to the creation of this fund, which represents the ECU School of Dental Medicine’s permanent commitment to caring for veterans all across our state,” said Dr. Greg Chadwick, dean of the dental school. “A vital part of the school’s mission is serving special populations, and this fund makes it possible for the school, its partners and supporters to work together in the name of oral health for those who have served.”

The fund supports current and potential programs and events that offer low- and no-cost dental procedures and preventive care to veterans in financial need.

“It means a lot to me because it shows people actually want to help each other,” said Lloyd Holland of Murphy, one of the first veterans to receive care through ECU Smiles for Veterans. “In North Carolina, people just care more about each other, and this event shows that. It’s hard for me to say what I feel, but it feels like a brick has been lifted off my back.”

The ECU Smiles for Veterans Patient Care Fund will support veterans’ care that the school has worked to secure over the years through relationships with community partners with an interest in veterans’ health.

“This is a fund that’s going to provide care for veterans, regardless of their ability to pay,” said Jon Jones, senior director of development for the School of Dental Medicine. “It’s a direct evolution of what’s been happening in Sylva and the school’s desire to serve an important population across North Carolina.”

Read more at news.ecu.edu.

Contact jstorm@reflector.com or 252-329-9587.