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Linda Smith


Linda Smith headshotHow has UNF impacted Jacksonville over the years, and how has Jacksonville impacted UNF?  

 Well, as a native Jacksonvillian, it changed my life! The city and University are developing a strong complementary relationship. I think the University is one of the determining forces in the city's future and the library will serve as one of the most enduring repositories of the city's history. The city would, I hope, serve as a real life laboratory and reality check for research by university practitioners in all possible fields.


 Linda Smith

 University librarian

 Head, Cataloging Department 





What do you remember about the first day of classes?


I’m afraid I don't remember much as I imagine I was too busy. I do remember some of the days at the building on Arlington Expressway. The Library part of the building seemed like a maze, with a minimum amount of room to move around among all the "stuff."


Everything was very different from what I'd expected in a "real" library, but all that changed for the better when we moved out to the campus. I remember my parents telling me about coming to the groundbreaking for the buildings while I was still in graduate school in North Carolina. Nothing but palmettos, sand and gnats my mom said. Fortunately, all that got better too!

What kept you at UNF for so many years?

First, the people. I've been privileged to work with the best group of librarians imaginable from the former director, Andrew Farkas, throughout the ranks of my former and current colleagues. And second, the challenge. Not many "brand new" librarians (as I was in 1972) get to build a library from scratch. It was a wonderful experience.

What are the biggest changes you’ve witnessed at UNF?

It's a lot bigger and more complex, of course. I think the most significant change I notice is the move away from the students as an academic core of the institution to the students as "consumers" of educational "product." There used to be a feeling of purpose much stronger than profit. That's been missing now for some time.

Is there one event that’s most memorable for you during your time at UNF?

The 25th anniversary celebration. I was in charge of decorating the square in front of the Arena for the main event, and I thought I'd never get all those blue-and-white balloons into (or out of) my car!

What’s the best thing (or things) about working at UNF?

The people, the memories and free access to a really great library.

What people do you remember the most during your years, and why are they so memorable?

Andrew Farkas, former Library director and John Hein, my former supervisor. They were always fair, reasonable and fun to be around. We shared many great moments and good times in the Library.

Any humorous times you recall, and why were they so funny?

Undoubtedly, the Library moves. The first time from Arlington Expressway onto campus was really the killer as we had no air conditioning and no working bathrooms. Measured against that first experience the Library’s multiple moves have been larger and more complex but physically easier. Picture an overloaded book truck, large plate glass windows, and a not quite in control moving crew and the possibilities for humor — and disaster – are endless.

What have you done during your time at UNF that you are proudest of?

My contribution to the outstanding quality of service provided by the Library.

Biggest changes in your personal life while you have been working at UNF?

A lot happens in 35 years. I got married for one, but generally I've just grown older and probably no wiser.

What have you learned from students over your years at UNF?

I've been in contact mostly with Library student workers. They are all really hard-working people.

What were you doing just prior to coming to UNF?

I finished my last exams and left graduate school in Chapel Hill, N.C., on a Friday and started work at UNF that Monday. Looking back I think I’d have the sense now to take off a few extra days.

How have students changed over the last 35 years?

They seem much younger (could that be my age?) and far more superficial. Perhaps they have so much more to pay attention to; the world is a much more complex place.

What was your favorite year at UNF and why?

Too hard a question! Without getting too technical, the decade of the 80s was probably the most exciting for me in that my area of responsibility, the creation of the Library’s main online public catalog, switched from a card-based process to an automated one. Out with the card catalogs and in with the terminals!!

How would you describe the physical growth on campus over the last 35 years?

I think physical growth has been organized and well considered. I really appreciate the more recent work I see in the areas of landscaping; it gives real “eye appeal” to many areas. Also, I hope the move of the administrative staff off campus is only temporary. I see that as a bad thing as it removes those who need to be most in tune with the campus from the daily stresses and joys of central campus life.

How will you keep UNF in your life and heart after you retire?

I'll use the Library and probably volunteer there.

What special relationships have you formed with students as a result of your tenure here?

As I say above, I worked mostly with Library student workers and found them to be for the most part very trustworthy and hard working.

What are the biggest challenges on campus today compared to the biggest challenges on opening day, Oct. 2, 1972?

I think on opening day all things seemed possible and we truly felt we could create our own way of doing things. Now, quite naturally, circumstances are more defined by the past and the mindset appears to be increasingly narrower and more business-oriented.

How did you find out about the opening at UNF?

I lived here and went to graduate school with the hope that I could return some day to work in the new hometown state university library.

What made you decide to come to UNF?

It was a "natural" as I've said above. Near the end of my graduate work, I remember seriously considering an internship that would have taken me to Washington D.C., but I decided I'd come home and work "a few years" to get some on-the-job experience before moving on to future jobs. The job was evidently too good to leave.