After 28 years of service to Henderson State, librarian John Ragni will be retiring at the end of the year. On December 2, we hosted a retirement reception in the Greene Room. It was well attended. Ragni spoke on his long career at Henderson State University.
I started at HSU in January 1988 as the Reference Librarian. In those days we still used the card catalog to locate books, and periodical articles were located by using print indexes. We did have access to two online databases, Dialog and BRS, but those cost money, usually in the $5 to $15 range, paid for by the user. In the late 80s I would do a few searches per month, mainly for faculty and graduate students, but by 1990 I only did two or three per year. We had one automated index when I started and that was Infotrac, which was primitive by today’s standards, and it was on just one computer. Within a few years we started to get indexes, such as ERIC, on CD-ROM, and they were loaded onto certain computers. I remember we had one personal computer for staff and we had to load the program (Word perfect or dBaseIII+) from a 5 inch floppy disc onto the computer. When Netscape became available in late 1994, that changed everything. We had a couple of computers with internet access and in those pre-Google days, AltaVista was the premier search engine. As time passed, web-based databases became available, but even in 2001 we were still getting some databases on CD-ROM.
In 1998 the Henderson Seminar program started and I taught my first of 17 classes. In 2000 the library introduced the Library Research Methods class, which was team-taught the first three years. Lea Ann Alexander, Marielle McFarland, Linda Wen, and I taught the class the first three years, and then in 2003 I became the sole instructor. Only six students took the class the first three years it was offered, but in 2003 the Sociology department allowed the class to satisfy one of their requirements for a degree, and in 2004 the new General Studies degree included the class in its critical thinking component. I set the enrollment cap at 15 students and the cap has been reached 10 out of the last 12 years, including the last 7 years.
As a former collegiate tennis player, I was interested in getting involved with the Henderson team, and it wasn’t long before I was working with the men’s team in my spare time. During the first year I was the de facto coach, and in 1989 I became the official coach of the team. I coached the team until 1996. In 2005 I started working with the HSU women’s team and in recent years I have been instrumental not only in recruiting the top players, but establishing a pipeline to recruit top players every year.