Dr. Charles Triche, Director of Libraries at UL, talks about Dupré Library and how he, his staff and Martin Hall have established the strongest electronic resource collection in the state of Louisiana.

Tell us about yourself.

I was born in Napoleonville, grew up in Baton Rouge... but I spent every summer of my life in Napoleonville. I was graduated from Redemptorist High School and LSU. All three of my degrees are from LSU.

Well, you're a little bit partial to UL now.

I'm 100% loyal to UL. And my daddy went to SLI on a track scholarship

How did you go from LSU to Director of Libraries at UL?

My first professional job was at Clemson. I loved it. I was their science reference librarian. I was there 4 years, and then I decided it was time to come home.

When I came to then-USL, I was immediately made Acting Assistant Director for Public Services, overseeing reference, circulation, reserve reading, inter-library loan, and government documents. Then when Gloria Cline came back, I went back to being a reference librarian.

From there I moved to Head of Circulation, then Associate Director of the Library. Then in 1997, at the ripe age of 48, I became Director of Libraries.

What are your accomplishments as Director?

My very first day on the job was also the first day that we began construction and renovation on Dupré. So for the next three years I dealt with that, as we were also getting ready for SACS [Southern Association of Colleges and Schools] accreditation... as well as keeping the library running. And we managed to keep track of everything.

In fact, when the SACS accreditation team came, the woman in charge of library review came in to look at our operation. So I put a hard hat on her, and walked her through the construction. She loved it.

Also, at the same time I became Director, the Library was moved from Academic Affairs to Information Technology... which proved to be a good marriage, because that coincided with the rapid rise of technology in libraries, and a huge turnaround from print to electronic resources. So we had what we needed to build the Library: [Vice President for Information Technology] Della Bonnet, a supervisor who not only understood the technology, but who also understood the importance of the technology. In our weekly meetings, I was working with tech personnel who understood my concerns, and who were very responsive to our needs.

When I said to Della, Here is the latest database, the latest research tool, the latest library technology, anything, I was never turned down. Never. I was turned down for other things, but not technology.

And we didn't just buy stuff because it because it was new. I had the relevant academic departments test the system, and make a recommendation. And we turned down a lot of stuff that we looked at.

We tested the usage of various products as well. If the dollar to usage ratio wasn't good, we didn't keep it. Whenever there is a question or a need, we sit down with the involved academic departments and we talk.

So how good are our electronic resources?

We have the strongest electronic resource collection in the state of Louisiana.

Including private universities?

Everyone.

We were the first school in the state to subscribe to Web Of Science, now Web Of Knowledge. It was years before everyone else got it. LSU and the other schools couldn't understand how we did that so fast. But Della got it for us.

The advantage we had, was that we recognized early on that it was a lot more than science. It also contains a social science index, as well as indexes for arts and humanities.

It was not a cheap database, but because we were the first in the state to purchase it, we probably negotiated the best deal in the region, maybe the entire US.

We have a very good relationship with the Web Of Knowledge group, now under Thompson Scientific. When Katrina hit, the representative from Thompson called me and said, "What can we do to help you? And what can we do to help the state?" And what they did, was to give the entire database, over $100,000 in software and information, to every college and university in the state. By that time the only schools who had it were UL, UNO, LSU, and maybe Tulane. It amounted to almost a half-million dollar donation, and with that, an employee plus match donation of about $1 million to the state.

How have the other schools responded to our successes?

Actually, the LSU Dean of Libraries Jennifer Cargill and I have a healthy competition going on, to build the strongest academic resources in the state. It's good for both schools. It really is a healthy interchange.

Right now, in fact, they're trying to gain the lead over us with WorldCat Local, a really cool database in beta-testing. It holds your regular collections, but it can also handle archival materials. For instance, if someone in New York wanted to access our Cajun & Creole music collection, WorldCat Local would provide them access as if they were in Dupré Library. But we know LSU is working on that, so we're preparing our response.

Jennifer said to me recently, "UL is always trying to one-up us."

And I said, "Yep. And we do it." She just laughed.

Describe the extent of UL's e-resources.

Currently, Dupré has on-line access to over 68,000 full-text journals, with millions of articles contained within them. We also have almost 60,000 eBooks.

What's next?

Well, we have a coffee shop coming into the library. Students will be able to buy a cappuccino or espresso, and study.

And of course, the big news is the Ernest J. Gaines Research Center.

How far along is that?

We actually have a preliminary floor plan drawn out. What we're trying to do is to design the area so that it will not only serve the Gaines Center, but also share some multi-use spaces with the Cajun & Creole Music Center. The two would share a listening/viewing area, a conference room, things like that.

The Gaines Center will have a closed-stack area, where initially we will house all of Dr. Gaines's papers, memorabilia, books, videos, DVDs, everything in his private collection. [Current English Department Head] Marcia Gaudet will serve as the Acting Director for the Center, until we can hire a librarian to serve as Permanent Director... we're looking for someone with degrees in both Library Science and English. That should be relatively easy to find, actually.

Then we will expand the collection to include all of the dissertations written about Gaines, and the books written about him.

We are assembling a Board for the Center, which includes Marcia, Reggie Young, Sandy Austin Meunier, Bridget Boustany, Diane Gaines, myself, and we're inviting in some major Gaines scholars.

How big is the Gaines Center?

Physically, it will cover at least 25% of the back half of the Library's 3rd Floor. Intellectually, it will have a huge impact. It will be a stopping place for all the scholars working on Dr. Gaines's writing, because all of the resources will be in one place.

We're in the process of writing a Kresge grant, they fund bricks & mortar. They do matching grants, so we want to match their money with the money that Dr. Authément has committed to the Center.

Picture of Edith Garland Dupré Library courtesy of RaginPagin.