Career Highlights

Contributions to ALA

I have been an ALA member for more than thirty years. During that time I have had the privilege to serve ALA and three of its divisions through various committee assignments and elected positions.

My most significant contributions to ALA have been:

Expanding participation opportunities for members

  • While I chaired the Committee on Organization the committee examined opportunities and policy implications for members to participate in ALA electronically. We held open hearings and brought to Council a series of policy recommendations to expand opportunities for members to serve on committees as “virtual members.” Council adopted these recommendations. I was never sure whether or not these issues were in COO’s purview, but somebody in ALA had to address them—and we did! Work remains to be done to expand meaningful opportunities for members to participate in ALA. Expanding opportunities for ALA members to participate in and contribute to ALA will be a major emphasis of my presidential initiatives.

Positioning ALA publishing for the future

  • While chair of the ALA Publications Committee I developed policy proposals to assure that ALA is a player in electronic publishing and that ALA will archive e-publications created throughout the association. Council adopted these policies.

Transparency in governance

  • As a member of the ALA Executive Board I assured that every meeting concludes with a review of actions taken and a plan to communicate those promptly to the Council and the membership at large.
  • As a member of the ALA Executive Board I proposed that ALA’s contracts for professional services be formally reviewed annually. As a result, the Executive Board annually evaluates arrangements such as ALA’s contract with its legal counsel.
  • As a member of the ALA Executive Board I drafted a report identifying options for new procedures to bring recommendations of candidates for Honorary Membership to the ALA Council. The new procedures, first followed for 2007 candidates, grew out of this report. Council now learns the candidates’ names prior to the Midwinter Meeting and has the opportunity to submit additional information about the candidates before voting on them.

ALA Participation Highlights

ALA

  • President, 2008-09
  • President-elect, 2007-08
  • Executive Board, 2003-06
  • Budget Analysis and Review Committee, 2004-06
  • Committee on Organization, 2000-04; chair, 2000-03
  • Publishing Committee, 1996-2000; chair, 1997-99
  • Structure Revision Task Force, 1995-97 (elected by Council as one of its two representatives)
  • Committee on Committees, 1995-96 (elected by and from Council)
  • ALA Executive Director Search Committee, 1993-94 (elected division representative)
  • ALA Council, 1988-92 term, 1994-98 term, and 2000-04 term

RASD/RUSA

  • President, 1992-93
  • Isadore Gilbert Mudge Citation Committee, 1990-91
  • Standards and Guidelines Committee, 1985-89; ad hoc subcommittee to revise “A Commitment to Information Services,” 1988-90
  • Board of Directors, 1982-85
  • RASD Dartmouth Medal Committee, 1980-82; chair, 1981-82

ACRL

  • Standards and Accreditation Committee, 2006-07
  • President’s Program Planning Committee, 2001-03
  • College and Research Libraries News Editorial Board, 1984-88; chair, 1986-88
  • Representative to the Freedom to Read Foundation, 1983-85

LAMA

  • Buildings & Equipment Section’s Buildings for College and University Libraries Committee, 2000-03

My Path to Librarianship

There are as many paths to a career in librarianship as there are librarians. This was mine.

I was paid for my best introduction to library research. The pay-off came more in what I learned than in what I earned as a college work-study student in 1969-70. My sophomore year I had the good fortune to work as a research assistant for Joseph M. DeFalco, a professor in the Marquette University English Department. He introduced me to the MLA International Bibliography with all of its quirks. He had me index his large collection of photocopies of critical articles on Edgar Allan Poe. And while helping him complete work compiling Collected Poems of Christopher Pearse Cranch (Gainesville: Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints, 1971), I came across a Cranch poem in St. Nicholas magazine for children that, because it was signed in a cryptic way, had not been properly attributed to him. This isn’t on the same level as a graduate student’s 2006 discovery of Robert Frost’s “War Thoughts” poem inscribed in a copy Frost’s North of Boston in the University of Virginia library. But it was heady stuff for a college sophomore!

As a graduate student in English I took a course on bibliography and research methods in literature. Our textbook was Richard Altick and Andrew Wright’s Selective Bibliography for the Study of English and American Literature, a numbered, unannotated list of citations of relevant reference books. Given the idiosyncratic way the course was taught, we quickly discovered the value of Constance Winchell’s Guide to Reference Books. I soon discovered that I had an uncanny knack for recalling the details of these books, the scope of each, and how they related to one another. I also realized that the job market for humanities Ph.D.s in the latter part of the 1970s would be dismal. So I talked with librarians about their work. As a graduate teaching assistant I had enjoyed the one-to-one work with students more than the classroom teaching. I concluded that reference librarianship would be the ideal combination of my strengths in one-to-one interaction and bibliographic knowledge. And so in January 1975 I enrolled in the master’s program at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and completed my degree in December of that year.

The job market for anyone in the mid-1970s was bad; it was especially bad for entry-level librarians. I am something of an exception in our profession in that I had no paraprofessional or other library work experience before entering library school. As part of Charles Bunge’s reference course I did a practicum—volunteer Sunday evening reference service at the reference desk at Marquette’s Memorial Library.

I, and it seems every other recent and soon-to-be library school graduate, went to the 1976 ALA Annual Conference and registered at the placement center. I was luckier than some of the others; I had two interviews during the Conference, one with a small college in North Dakota and the other with Murray State University in Kentucky. That led to an on-campus interview at Murray State and a job offer. It had taken more than a year of looking, but I cracked a tough job market and started my career as a reference librarian at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, on September 1, 1976. Since then I have enjoyed many opportunities and have built a rewarding career that, I believe, has contributed to the libraries I have worked for, the users of those libraries, and our profession.

Positions Held

2011- Library Director and Associate Dean for Information Services, United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland
1998-2011 University Librarian, Boatwright Memorial Library, University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia
1988-98 Assistant Dean of University Libraries for Reference and Information Services, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia
1983-87 Head Reference Librarian, University of Illinois at Chicago
1978-83 Reference Librarian, Roesch Library, University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio
1977-78 Head Reference Librarian, Murray State University Library, Murray, Kentucky
1976-77 Assistant Reference Librarian, Murray State University Library, Murray, Kentucky

Education

2001 UCLA Senior Fellows program, UCLA Department of Information Studies
1975 Master of arts in Library Science, University of Wisconsin at Madison
1974 Master of arts in English, Marquette University
1972 Bachelor of arts cum laude in English, Marquette University

Awards

2006 Distinguished Alumnus Award, University of Wisconsin—Madison School of Library and Information Studies
2005 Richard A. Mateer Quality of Life Award for “Listening and responding to the voice of the students,” University of Richmond student government
1998 Earl Gregg Swem Library annual Faculty Recognition Award for distinguished service to Swem Library, College of William and Mary
1997 Information Access Corporation’s Information Authorship Award as author of the best article in Online magazine during 1996-97
1995 Louis Shores-Oryx Press Award, awarded by the American Library Association's Reference and Adult Services Division for “significant achievement in the field of reviewing materials for libraries”
1993 G.K. Hall Award for Library Literature, awarded by the American Library Association for “an outstanding contribution to library literature” for Distinguished Classics of Reference Publishing
1988 Isadore Gilbert Mudge Citation, awarded by the American Library Association's Reference and Adult Services Division for “distinguished contributions to reference librarianship”