Forsyth Library dean to begin phased retirement

FHSU Media Relations

After six transformational years, Forsyth Library Dean Deborah Ludwig will be stepping down at the end of November, assuming new special project duties as she transitions to full retirement in 2022.

Ludwig’s distinguished career includes several stops at Fort Hays State University. She served as the catalog librarian at Forsyth Library from 1988-90 when the first online library catalog, TopCat, was implemented. Between her FHSU appointments, she held technology and library leadership positions with the Kansas City, Kansas Public Library, Johnson County Community College, and the University of Kansas.

During her most recent tenure at FHSU, Ludwig was instrumental in advancing university priorities. She co-chaired the committee that developed FHSU’s five-year strategic plan from 2017-19. She also chaired search committees for the provost, dean of the Robbins College of Business and Entrepreneurship, and director of Teaching Innovation and Learning Technologies (TILT).

Ludwig is responsible for several immensely successful initiatives that reshaped and repositioned the Forsyth Library as a research and learning hub and realigned the library’s mission to support the academic success of university faculty and students. Under her leadership, the 53-year old library was transformed into a true “learning commons” with group and individual study spaces, enhanced computer workstations, and a self-service video production lab. An old reference desk was replaced by an online model that allows students to connect to a librarian, whether studying on campus or online. Two prominent exhibit spaces now showcase unique and historical artifacts from Special Collections and Archives. New meeting rooms and a large presentation/classroom space in the south study area have become a hub for social, civic and professional engagement events.

Ludwig also elevated the library’s collections and services to reflect the university’s mission of providing an accessible and affordable education. As an advocate of open educational resources (OER), she shepherded several OER initiatives at the university. She helped establish two FHSU grant programs, which encourage faculty to create or adopt openly licensed materials for their courses, saving students thousands of dollars in textbook costs. Forsyth Library launched the FHSU Scholars Repository in 2016, providing a place to collect, preserve and openly share faculty and student research, making scholarly and creative works discoverable and accessible worldwide. The repository is now home to a growing collection of the university’s intellectual output, including several peer-reviewed journals, master’s theses, OERs, and digitized collections from the University Archives.

Research services have also grown significantly under Ludwig’s leadership, with librarians integrating information literacy instruction into courses and exponential growth for the “Ask A Librarian” research help service, which answers hundreds of one-on-one questions each year. To recognize students who demonstrate outstanding undergraduate research and honor a long-time librarian, Ludwig established the Lynn Haggard Undergraduate Library Research Award in 2019 to honor students who demonstrate sophisticated information literacy and library research skills.

At the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, Ludwig delayed her planned 2020 phased retirement to reconfigure and deliver library services designed to meet the research needs of the FHSU community while prioritizing the health and safety of patrons and employees.

Ludwig’s contributions to the transformation of the Forsyth Library will be felt long after her retirement. With an extensive renovation on the horizon, the library is positioned to become the dynamic center of teaching, learning, research and engagement that she envisioned when she returned to FHSU six years ago.