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A very special Special Librarian

On Wednesday evening January 13, 2010, SLIS students were fortunate to spend an hour with Ms. Ardis Hanson as part of the After Dark Lecture Series. Ms. Hanson welcomed them to the FMHI Research Library in the Louie de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute on USF’s Tampa Campus. Both Ms. Hanson and the special library in which she serves as director are unique. Her generous insight into the operation of this resource and her experience as a special librarian were gratefully received by about a dozen SLIS students.

SLIS student Anne Larrivee introduces Ms. Ardis Hanson (seated) at FMHI Research Library


Following a gracious introduction by SLIS grad student and FMHI Library graduate assistant Anne Larrivee, Ms. Hanson outlined her journey from the world of architectural engineering to that of libraries and how this unique perspective helps her support research faculty at FMHI. In both instances, for example, her continuous watch for legislative initiatives that might affect those she supports helps her anticipate changes in the field(s) and upcoming grant opportunities. Apologies to Ms. Hanson for any misquoting, but it sounded as if she helped bring in $38 million last year to USF in research grants to faculty members she supports.

USF SLIS students learning about special libraries and FMHI


Ms. Hanson is a great example of proactive service to library patrons in many ways. As each new faculty member arrives at FMHI, she will have already (through reading their publications) familiarized herself with their research area and she makes a point of meeting with them to make sure they understand her interest in supporting their work. She maintains E-mail lists of people both inside and outside USF with particular research interests and she proactively alerts them to developments and publications about which they may wish to have some awareness. She maintains spreadsheets of faculty productivity in terms of their frequency (and venues) of publication and makes this information available to her dean, tenure committees and those responsible for reporting on these matters. She notes where her faculty members are published for collection development reasons and she makes sure those journals are subscribed to by FMHI. Anecdotal support for her efforts include faculty testimonials about how they haven’t enjoyed this kind of support at other research venues and requests to her for remote support of faculty (and conferees) on site at conferences and meetings.

FMHI was established as an independent entity by the Florida Legislature. Legislators, their staff, and law enforcement officials in training or preparing trial materials pertaining to mental health questions are all examples of individuals outside of USF supported by FMHI Research Library. Recently, this library was rolled into the USF Library system. Ms. Hanson is also leading this library through evolutions like the addition of several schools to FMHI Library’s stewardship. The School of Social Work, for example, was recently added to her area of support. And, within legal and ethical limits, a good deal of the information at FMHI Research Library is available to members of the public. Through it all Ms. Hanson remains committed to achieving an extraordinary level of high quality service and support to information seekers at FMHI.  To learn more about FMHI, visit: http://home.fmhi.usf.edu/



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