Legends of RPL

June at the Ross Pendergraft Library saw the departure of two beloved members of our family: Beverly Cooper and Delores Pollard.

Beverly has been our Public Services Assistant since 2010.  She graduated from Tech with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Teaching and a Master of Education in Elementary Education and Teaching.  She worked for Oakland Heights Elementary, Crawford Elementary, and Center Valley Elementary until her retirement in 2005.

For many students frustrated and frazzled by the mysteries of library databases and research assignments, she was a hero who gently guided them through the myriad of resources here at the Library.  Beverly’s smile was usually the first thing people saw every morning at the Ross Pendergraft Library, waiting to help the lost and comfort the confused.  She also took the time to fill our display cases with new and interesting collections and she made sure the new books were out front and center as soon as they arrived.

We will deeply miss her and wish her well as starts a new chapter in North Carolina.

Chareen, Beverly, and Sherry–the Public Services dream team

Another legend, Delores Pollard, officially retired on June 30th after a whopping 37 years as a full-time Serials Librarian Assistant.

Delores with her family and friends

She graduated from Tech with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, and started out in the library at a student worker back in 1975, when the library was in Tomlinson and grown men thought it was ok to wear sideburns, wide ties, and plaid pants.

Delores Pollard from 1979 Tech yearbook, the Agricola

Delores saw the transition of the library through waves of new technology—from card catalog cards to completely online collections and databases.  She faithfully drove from her home in Waldron, Arkansas, all the way to Tech every morning to help the library obtain, organize, bind, subscribe, and wrangle the library’s periodical collection.  Just about every newspaper, journal, ATU thesis, and microfilm roll since 1980 in this building has had her hands on it.


Cake decorated as a shelflist

Arkansas Tech University and the Library salutes Delores and Beverly on their new adventures.  Don’t you forget about us!

Judd Nelson and the classic scene from the Breakfast Club wherein he fist pumps the air

Welcome Brent Etzel

etzel5The Ross Pendergraft Library & Technology Center is thrilled to officially welcome Brent Etzel as the new Library Director.  Monday, November 3rd, marked his first day at Arkansas Tech University, taking over the position after the retirement of Bill Parton on October 31st.

Brent comes to us from Cedarville, Ohio.  While born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, he was drawn to Midwestern living through summer vacations with extended family in southern Indiana.  He attended Franklin College in suburban Indiana as a political science major, and earned a Master of Library Science degree from Indiana University.  He later earned a Master of Arts in history from Illinois State University.

After graduation, he lived all over the Midwest and wore many library hats.  He was a public librarian in Michigan, a corporate librarian in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, an academic librarian at a small college in rural central Illinois, and an academic librarian at a large, liberal arts college in the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa.  Before moving to Russellville, he was the Director of Library Public Services at Cedarville University in Ohio.

Brent at Cedarville Library 2010

Brent at Cedarville Library, 2010

When asked what started him on this path to become a librarian, Brent said, “I had spent a lot of time in my college library, not doing homework like I should have, but rather doing my own research on topics that interested me.  I realized I could get PAID to help others do library research, and so I decided to pursue that as a career.”

Of his various library jobs, he said he most enjoyed the level of research and quality of public interaction that could only be found in an academic library.  “My passion is to make students into better researchers, and it is toward that goal that I am driven to find ways to make the library more relevant and accessible to students.”

While at Cedarville, he looked for opportunities to promote in-class library instruction and develop research assignments with the teaching faculty.  In his first three years there, the library expanded the number of librarian-led instruction sessions from fewer than 60 to more than 100.

Cedarville Univ Library Orientation 2014

Cedarville University Library Orientation, 2014

At Arkansas Tech, he wants to make the services and resources that are available at the Ross Pendergraft Library & Technology Center more relevant and accessible to the students here.  “This can be done through more extensive promotion of what we have and what we do with the students, but also by developing the relationships we have with the faculty and adjunct instructors at ATU,” he noted.

One of the first things he said he wishes to accomplish here is to make better use of the space we have in the library building—specifically, to offer additional collaborative study space in the building over the next couple of years.

Brent in Osijek Croatia 2013

Brent in Osijek, Croatia, 2013

When asked about any long-term goals of things he would like to accomplish, he replied, “I would like the faculty and students of Arkansas Tech view the Ross Pendergraft Library as THE center of research activity at the university.  I want faculty and students to rely on both the quality of resources that we have, as well as the expertise and friendliness of our staff.”

Brent brings with him to Russellville his wife, Susanna, and his four children, Carolyn (age 14), Clark (age 13), Grant (age 10), and Josie (age 6).  Susanna has a pair of master’s degrees: an M.M. in music history from Southern Methodist and an M.A. in applied linguistics from Indiana University.  She often teaches English as a second language, but she has spent much of the last five years homeschooling their children.  She is also an avid pianist, enjoys swimming, and tries to do a triathlon at least once a year.

Family in Philadelphia 2014

The Etzel family in Philadelphia, 2014

When he is not hard at work in the library, Brent enjoys spending time with his family, running long distances, coaching soccer, reading or playing something on his tablet, listening to podcasts, or looking for new music & musicians on Spotify.

Brent Running 2012

As for first impressions, Brent says he was struck by the natural beauty of western Arkansas, and visited Lake Dardanelle State Park and the nearby mountains beyond Lake Dardanelle.  The biggest impression, however, was made by the people here:

“From my first contact with the people at Arkansas Tech to this day, I have been treated with exceeding kindness and hospitality and my family and I are most grateful for the good experience that this transition has been,” says Etzel.  “Also, I am amazed by the number of staff and students at Tech and people in general in Russellville who volunteer how much they enjoy being a part of this community.  I have never seen so much genuine affinity for a university & community as I have observed in my short time here.”

Please help us welcome Brent Etzel to the library, the Arkansas Tech campus, and to the state by sending a virtual casserole dish or high five to betzel@atu.edu.

Thursday Night

On Thurday, take a break from campus and head over to Russellville City Hall where our good friend and local celebrity author, Slade Dupuy, will help unveil the new Pope County Library System logo.  Slade has been with the library for a number of years as the Administrative Assistant to the Director.  A graduate of Tech with a degree in International Studies, he is also the author of the popular science fiction novel, Colorblind, which is available on the Library shelf here, on the Pope County Library shelf, and on Amazon.

He will be at Russellville City Hall on Thursday, October 16th, from 5-7 P.M.  For more information about the event or the Pope County Library System, visit http://www.popelibrary.org or call their number at (479) 968-4368.