• 59°

Mary McCoy: Better than Google

By Tammee Greer

The Orange Leader

 

Books come in many different forms now-a-days. They are not only fun escapes, but essential tools to prepare one’s minds for pertinent futures. In addition to books, there are so many other various forms of information to expand ones minds as one is navigating this vast sea. In comes Mary McCoy, library director of the Ron E. Lewis Library at Lamar State College-Orange.

McCoy has been the Library Director since May of 2008.

“…2007 I was made Interim. We had a library director leave to go to another school and while they did the hunt, I took over the job,” McCoy said. “It’s also a way they can find out if you can do the job. It’s a test. Interim is mainly to see if you can do the job by filling in. They interviewed some other people then they offered the job to me.”

Her responsibilities include staffing for the library and Learning Center, collection development, policies and procedures, activities, programing, instruction, and making sure we have all materials for anything Lamar offers, anything that would be needed to support their curriculum, according to McCoy.

McCoy came to Lamar with a wealth of knowledge and experience. She has a Bachelor of Library Science from Baylor, an ALA accredited school. Her Masters from Sam Houston, but it’s not ALA accredited.

“It’s a school for school librarians, which I was a school librarian for 10 years,” McCoy said.

She then attended University of North Texas and got a Masters of Library Information Science.

McCoy was a History major and brings teaching experience to her position at Lamar.

“I taught History for 8th graders for a while. History is a story about people, of individuals. It’s not just dates and wars,” she used to explain to her students.

McCoy is still teaching, albeit different from history.

“Many people think ‘I don’t need a library. I can just Google it.’, but on Google, the first 15 things will be paid ads that have nothing to do with what you’re looking for,” McCoy said. “You still need to know how to evaluate what you’re looking at. Just because somebody wrote it doesn’t mean it’s true.”

“That’s a lot of what we try to teach our students is how to evaluate things, whether you read it in a magazine or you read it on the web. You have to know the difference between a popular publication and a scholarly publication,” McCoy said. “Popular publications are just leisure books, magazines, etc. Scholarly publications are things that are written by knowledgeable people and those are the kinds of publications you need for theme papers. You just have to know some things in order to make judgement calls.”

In this day and age, technology is so prevalent students overlook and take for granted the knowledgeable asset they have in their librarian. However, Neil Gaiman, author of Sandman and Neverwhere said it best when he said, “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.”

McCoy enjoys her job and what she enjoys the most is “It’s always different. It’s never the same thing every day.”

Sometimes she works at the reference desk or may be in a professional meeting.   Sometimes she works with the students and gives instruction.

“Anything the instructors need us to instruct,” McCoy said when asked what she instructs. “All first year students are required to take Learning Frameworks Classes. We instruct them on research for their field. On how to do research.”

Students are also required to take Speech and McCoy teaches them how to find topics.

Privacy is part of a strong work ethic to McCoy.

“People have a right to read what they want to. It’s not anybody’s business what books you check out,” McCoy said. “We cover a wide variety of subjects. It’s a personal issue and as a librarian, it’s not our job to judge or anything else. We’re just supposed to help you find information on whatever subject you’re looking at.”

Since history is close to McCoy’s heart, she is also involved in the Orange Leader Archives Online where she helps put together a local historical website, partnering with the Orange Leader, Lamar State College-Orange and the Orange Public Library. The site can be accessed at http://texashistory.unt.edu. It’s free to the public and allows everyone to do a key word search.

“We were given the reporter’s microfilm copies,” McCoy said. “Never could find the archived copies.”

The public library also had some copies. The site is monitored by The University of North Texas.

“It started off 1500 hits a month and now it’s up to 20-30,000 hits a month. It’s up to 1960 something and goes back to 1890 something,” McCoy said. “I just felt if we didn’t do something, it would be lost forever. That is our history of our community. People do research on the Rainbow Bridge, Chemical Row or whatever or even just family research.”

Partnering between public libraries, community colleges and other various sources in the community is important to her.

“Anytime you can partner with someone or different groups then everybody benefits,” McCoy said. “I guess that’s my soapbox for professional organizations is we have to promote ourselves.”

“Libraries have changed so much that we have to be ready to reinvent ourselves,” McCoy said. “We try to encourage the students in the arts too. If your libraries aren’t ever going to bring in an author or a poet, where are you ever going to meet an author or a poet or an artist?”

Lamar has art and photography exhibits for artists and photographers that are students, locals or even some of Lamar’s instructors who have a hobby in the arts. They host receptions for them.

Lamar also has a creative writing and arts contest called Cypress Branches. They publish a book with all the winners of the creative writing and artists. They also have cash prizes for the students.

McCoy has worked through Lamar-Orange on additional projects as well.

“We work with Region 5 and we sponsor the Library Expo for librarians to get some training. I’ve done that for several years,” McCoy said. “Other librarians talk about their programming and what other things they do. We have a special speaker come in and a lot of the vendors from the suppliers. There’s a lot of demonstrations and selling.”

This expo is done, because many librarians have a hard time getting away from their campuses.

Mary McCoy is also active in the community and a recipient of the Julie Rogers Award for community service from all four campuses of Lamar.

“I’ve served on the Orange County Child Welfare Board” McCoy said. “It is now the Orange County Protective Services Board.”

She has also received some awards for being on that board.

“We try to provide things for foster children that they wouldn’t normally get,” McCoy said. “We try to make sure they get an allowance, something for their birthday. Orange County has close to 200 in care right now.”

The Orange County Protective Services Board also provides Christmas for the foster children in Orange County.

“We decide how much money we have, how many children in care, what are their ages,” McCoy said. “Each child gets a gift card.”

There are members of the board that go shopping and do the wrapping of the presents for each child. Mary can be contacted for donations for the children for Christmas. Her contact information is Mary J. McCoy, Library Director, Ron E. Lewis Library, 410 Front Street, Orange, Texas 77630. Her phone is (409) 882-3083 and her email is Mary.McCoy@lsco.edu.

Mary McCoy also belongs to or has belonged to the following programs, the TLA (Texas Library Association), the ALA (American Library Association) and the Texas Community College Teachers Association, which is strictly for community colleges.

Reading is very important to McCoy.

“If you can read you can do other subjects too,” McCoy said.

Lamar has a program called the Quality Enhancement Program or QEP. This program helps students who have difficulty reading at Lamar-Orange. There is tutoring available in the Learning Center and one-on-one resources. There are also tutorials for how to read for Science, English Literature, etc.

As far as children go, McCoy says to start reading to them early.

“I think from as early as you can read to them,” McCoy said. “They can sit in your lap and look at pictures. Let them see you reading too. Kids will mimic what they see you do.” The written word makes the world come alive, not only to children, but to us!

When McCoy isn’t spending time with her grandson at the movies, going on swamp tours in Lake Charles, Louisiana or sewing costumes and making crafts for displays, she likes to curl up and read her favorite Christian fiction writer, Jan Karon.

Forget all the alternatives for reading there are.

“I still would prefer just a good old paperback I can put in my purse,” McCoy said.