Library event focuses on evolution of communication

With heated passion for books and resourceful education, members of “Friends of the Madden Library” band together to help maintain the prominence of Fresno State’s Henry Madden Library.

Throughout the year, events are held in which discussants are invited to speak on particular topics related to the library.

“The theme changes every year,” said Marcie Morrison, director of development of the library. “Each program highlights a particular aspect of the library – our collections, or one of our departments or one of our interests.”

Chair of the program committee, Deb Everson-Borofka, feels it gives the community a great opportunity to come together for enjoyment and support of the library.

“Everybody is also very interested in the student population. They’re so proud of this place. They’re just so proud of it,” Everson-Borofka said. “It’s just an amazing building, and the collections are just wonderful. And it’s just people who love books, and they love to see students using it. They also love to see the changes that are happening.”

The events also act as fundraisers providing funds for particular collections or needs of the library.

“State funds and tuition can’t pay for everything we would like to do,” said Sharon Ramirez, administration assistant to Morrison. “So that’s one of the reasons why we hold these events. It’s to get people interested in supporting the library too.”

This year’s theme focuses on technology and human interaction. On Friday, the Friends Board held its third program, “Technology and Culture: Progress or Peril.” It focused on effects of technology on culture, particularly in the realm of communication and social media.

“We are looking at traditional forms of writing,” Everson-Borofka explained. “How people used to be much more practiced in the letter art, and now, of course, social media has taken over and people Tweet and Facebook and do this kind of stuff. It’s so much handier. So the question is, ‘What have we lost in the process? Have we lost? Have we gained? What are the benefits – do they outweigh what we’ve lost or is it possible to keep both?’”

The speakers for the program were Robert Sullivan, an attorney with McCormick Barstow LLP and Jefferson Beavers, a journalism, film studies and English professor at Fresno City College. The main focus of their discussion is called “Quail to Quantum,” with Quail representing the traditional form of communication and Quantum expressing the modern age.  The speakers talked about their own generational differences, noting how this provided both difference in appearance as well as opinion.

“We started out that I would, with my color of hair, be at that end of the spectrum [traditional side] and Jefferson with his color of his hair would be on the tech side,” Sullivan said. “That’s how we were recruited, and we ended up changing in that considerably.”

Beavers pointed out both his and Sullivan’s surprise when they realize how much they agreed on certain issues.

“We discovered we had a lot of more things in common thann we had imagined,” Beavers said. “We had a lot of range of discussion. Each of us has our own preferences, but we also can understand each other.”

To sum up the discussion, both Sullivan and Beavers agreed that every form of communication has its place.

“The trick is to use the right form of communication in the right situation to accomplish what the objective is,” Sullivan said.

Beavers hoped that by the end of the discussion, attendees would be able to leave with a more open heart to all forms of communication.

“It’s all knowledge,” Beavers said. “The gadget or the way we access that stuff, it’s going to change. It has changed. It’s continued to change, and it will continue to change.”

The program has been in operation since 1984. As new themes are used each year, the Friends board must brainstorm for new ideas.  The board meets once a month, often times in the company of the library’s Starbucks. Each board member has serves for three years, so the ever-changing board members help retain the freshness of ideas, Everson-Borofka said.

Morrison and the library dean, Peter McDonald, contribute particular ideas to help steer the board discussion in a direction that addresses the needs of the library.

“This bunch of ideas kind of took on a life on its own with the technology theme,” Everson-Borofka said. “So the idea of intersection of the technology and human interaction – we just broke out. We’re trying to hit all the aspects of human behavior, so tonight the social media is supposed to represent the communication.”

It was a joy for Morrison to work the board to make these events and programs successful, she said.

“It’s wonderful working with these dedicated volunteers who are really devoted to our library and very interested in getting the message out to the community what a wonderful library it is because a lot of people in the community don’t realize that,” Morrison said.

Although Everson-Borofka was happy that there were around 60 people at the event, most of the attendees were older. She hopes that students will attend these events too.

“I wished we had more students,” she said. “It makes us who come on a regular basis happy just to see the mixing of the age groups.”

The next program will be held on March 15 at 6 p.m. entitled “Technology and Human Mobility: From Disabled to Enabled.”