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Message from the Dean: One True Thing

eNews Edition: Fall 2020

As I write these words, the sky in Northridge has become dark and ominous from distant fires, perhaps symbolic of the fear and uncertainty that lies beneath the surface for many of us during these challenging days. The spring 2020 pandemic and the early summer societal upheaval surrounding our country’s social justice reckoning have caused many of us to seek out that “one true thing” that can anchor us to solid ground and give us more meaning in our jobs and our personal lives. The search for “one true thing” is especially poignant since most of us are isolated from our friends, colleagues, and loved ones, and we cannot process and clarify our thoughts and feelings in the same ways we did pre-COVID-19. Nevertheless, finding and embracing core values is critical if we are to live lives of purpose and intention in this changing and fraught world. On that note, I would encourage the reader to look at the Library’s Mission, Vision and Values where you will find the closest thing to “one true thing” on our website.

Our interview with librarian Liz Cheney in this issue of the Oviatt Library eNews reminds us that for all the changes brought on by the pandemic in the world of library reference, instruction and outreach, one true thing remains: the value system that binds together the work of pre-COVID librarians with post-COVID librarians. This ecosystem of values includes providing access to information, ensuring clear communication, fostering critical thinking skills, and focusing on student success. It is important to note that all of our CSUN librarians, just like Liz Cheney, have transitioned remarkably well from a largely physical teaching environment to a primarily virtual atmosphere, all the while maintaining their core values. This was a difficult endeavor, all the more so given the physical and emotional disruption that most of us have experienced over the past several months.

Dean Mark Stover
Oviatt Library Dean Mark Stover

One of the key roles of librarians is preserving the past, and it was this value that spurred University Archivist April Feldman to initiate her Documenting COVID-19 at CSUN project back in the spring of 2020, a project that is described in this version of the Oviatt Library eNews. Through this initiative, we hope that many in the CSUN community will be motivated to share their lived experiences and thus the “one true thing” that has emerged for them out of the events of the past few months. While the pandemic experience has been challenging to all of us, we each have our own story, and some will want to write down what they have learned through adversity to share with future generations via the Library’s Special Collections and Archives.

Our annual recap of library student scholarships reminds us of the “one true thing” that lives in the heart of each staff and faculty member in the Library: the fact that our “raison d’être” is to assist and serve CSUN students and to help them achieve success. I am always inspired by the stories of the students who work in the CSUN Library and the barriers that they have overcome to reach CSUN, often as the first person in their family to attend college. I hope that you will consider joining the dozens of donors to the Oviatt Library Student Scholarship Fund. Despite all of the hardships that many of us have experienced this year, this act of selfless giving could become your “one true thing” for 2020.

Former President Barack Obama once said, “We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.” What are your ideals and your values? How do you find meaning in your life and work? Or, to put it another way, what is your “one true thing”?