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Hollie Gardner

With the opening of the new Residential Commons in the fall will come new opportunities for Central University Libraries to enrich student and academic life on campus, says Hollie Gardner. As the CUL's user experience librarian, Gardner serves as the liaison between the libraries and the living-learning communities.

"This is an exciting time to be at SMU as the Residential Commons model transforms student housing across campus," she says. "CUL is working closely with the office of Residence Life & Student Housing to determine how we can best support these new academically focused communities through marketing and programming."

Gardner, who joined SMU in July 2013, also leads the CUL's efforts in supporting faculty teaching more than 50 sections of the Discernment and Discourse (formerly Rhetoric) sequence, part of the new University Curriculum implemented in fall 2012. An important goal of the coursework is to teach students to find and evaluate materials and master research protocols.

"We are developing online modules designed to help students develop foundational information literacy skills, skills that they will use for a lifetime," she explains. "Students will learn how to assess what is good and what is bad information online and to use peer-reviewed journals. They also will learn important lessons on how to use information responsibly by properly citing sources."

She also introduces incoming students to CUL as the point person for AARO (Academic Advising Registration and Orientation), a two-day orientation program for first-year and new transfer students.

Having filled numerous professional roles at four university libraries over the past two years, Gardner arrived at SMU with a solid background in research and instructional service. She earned a bachelor's degree in music in 2009 and a master's degree in library science in 2012, both from the University of North Texas. She has also completed coursework in elementary education teacher certification, music education, and English as a Second Language instruction.

Clearly the term "user experience" in her job title encompasses a sweeping range of responsibilities, which is exactly what Gardner prizes about her work. "Assessment, outreach, marketing, teaching – I get to do it all and don't have to limit myself in any way," she says. "And, I really love the student interaction. Their time at SMU is all about discovery, and it's rewarding to be part of that journey."