Mercer Library Celebrates One Million Visits

Posted: March 5, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Saeed Khoshnevis talks to Mercer Library's Graduate Assistant Fayaz Seifuddin
Graduate Student Saeed Khoshnevis, left, talks to Mercer Library’s Graduate Assistant Fayaz Seifuddin about a research project.
Photo by Jennifer Halpin

By Jennifer Halpin

In the morning hours of Saturday, Feb. 17, Mercer Library on Mason’s Prince William Campus quietly celebrated as the gate counter clicked to signify the one-millionth visitor to the library in just under a decade.

Mercer Library opened in the fall of 1997 in 10,000 square feet of wide open space. When it opened, there was one row of reference materials, three tables with computers (which served as the computer lab), and phones scattered on the floor. The gate counter was not installed until 1998, when the space was built out to include study carrels, book stacks and a customer service desk.

When the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) became a Mason partner in 1998, it donated its library collection to the university, seeding the initial collection. With the creation of new departments and courses, the collections have grown, and so has access to materials in electronic format.

In 2005, the library received $60,000 to retrofit and reconfigure its space. Additional stacks were added, as well as comfortable seating in the study areas. Swipe-card access was added to make the library accessible to the library staff offices on the second floor.

Heather Hannan, who has been Mercer’s head librarian since it opened, has been a close observer of the campus’ development. “The growth in IT majors exploded when Bull Run Hall was added to the campus,” she notes. “The shuttle bus did not exist when the library opened. What started as a loop service is now a tandem service.”

Mercer Library is the foundation of the Prince William Campus. It is open more hours and days than any other department or office on campus. Mercer was also one of the first areas on campus to have wireless access, which greatly increased the number of patrons. Visitors know the library is a place where they are always welcome. Hannan says, “We embrace collaboration, innovation and education.”

A high level of customer service and a friendly staff have contributed to the increased volume of visitors at Mercer. In 2003, the Mercer Library staff won the inaugural Information Technology Unit Customer Service Award.

“The staff’s empathy toward others is the key reason folks keep coming back to Mercer,” says Hannan. “I can teach them policies and procedures, but empathy is something that cannot be taught. The staff really works as a team, which keeps our turnover rate very low.”

Today, Mercer is a warm, light-filled place to study, see friends or hold a group meeting. One of its inviting aspects is the quotations painted on the walls. The quotes range from Monty Python to Thomas Jefferson and are a source of entertainment for the patrons. “I think of it as a 10,000-square-foot one-room school house,” says Hannan.

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