Beyond the Classroom : Dr. Maurice G. Fortin

Library director recounts his 22 years at the Porter Henderson Library

By Aubree Bailey
On March 1, 2018

Photo by Brit Raley
Dr. Maurice G. Fortin has been at ASU for 22 years.

After 22 years of dedication to the improvement and modernization of ASU’s Porter Henderson Library, Dr. Maurice G. Fortin, the library director, is retiring.

After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in history, a master’s in history and a master’s in library science, as well as a doctorate in higher education administration from what is now known as the University of North Texas, Fortin worked fifteen years at UNT in multiple positions. He also participated for five years in the Texas County Records Inventory Project.

Fortin arrived at ASU in 1996 and became instrumental in the revitalization of Porter Henderson Library.

"One of the reasons I chose a smaller school such as ASU was because I felt like I could have a bigger impact on a smaller campus. The campus was very far behind on technology."

Since becoming library director, Fortin has supervised over $1.5 million in grant -funded projects, such as the project that established the West Texas Collection in the UC.

Fortin has also helped the library make the shift from traditional bound volume collections to online collections and journal subscriptions to increase information students can access, as well as make their studies more convenient.

Perhaps one of his most apparent contributions to the library was the remodeling of the first floor, now known as the Learning Commons, and the addition of private study rooms, group work rooms and a quiet study space. "We were lucky to get 120-150,00 people coming through a year. When we remolded the first floor and made study rooms it more than doubled the amount of people coming through," Fortin says.

He also says he enjoys seeing the reactions former Rams have upon seeing the positive changes in the library: "One of my most enjoyable experiences is when we have tours coming in and the parents went to school at ASU 10-15 years ago. You should watch the expressions on their faces when they walk in the door. Invariably one of them comes up to me and asks, ‘Why didn’t you have this when I was here?’"

Though Fortin will no longer work in Porter Henderson library as of April 1 of this year, he still has ideas for what could be in the library’s future, such as the addition of a maker space. "A maker space," Fortin explained, "is a move that many university and public libraries are making for collaborative learning. The current trends in industry are for collaborative work; if we don’t prepare you to be successful when you leave ASU, we haven’t done a good job."

Besides his passion for collaborative learning, Fortin also believe information literacy is a key tool to learn in college: "One of the most valuable things you take away from your college experience is not necessarily a piece of paper, but hopefully you have learned how to learn. Part of that is information literacy. Information literacy isn’t about finding information but evaluating information. To me that’s [teaching students information literacy] one of the most important of being an academic librarian."

Fortin has also participated in many prominent campus organizations and committees. These include his roles in the Deans and Department Chairs group, University Curriculum Committee, chair of the Library Committee, and previous servitude on the University Master Plan Committee, Academic Master Plan Review Committee and the University Technology Committee, among others.

Fortin plans to stay busy during his retirement by traveling, enjoying time with his son and granddaughter and helping the monastery in Christoval to catalog a large collection of religious based works in multiple languages.

On behalf of the student body, the Ram Page would like to extend well-wishes to Dr. Fortin in his retirement and express immense gratitude for his service to ASU and the state of Texas.

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