A Tribute to Karen Hunter: Collaborator, Innovator

Wendy Pradt Lougee, University of Minnesota

As 2010 draws to a close, so does Karen Hunter’s distinguished tenure at Elsevier. Currently serving as Senior Vice President, Global Academic & Customer Relations, Hunter will retire in December. During her thirty-four years with Elsevier, Karen Hunter witnessed and shaped a remarkable era of publishing evolution and development. Recognized in 2006 with the ALCTS CSA/Ulrich’s Serials Librarianship Award (the first award given to a publisher), Karen has been a leader in the collaborative development of electronic publishing.

I had the privilege of working with Karen on three projects that reflect some of the milestones in the path of the digital publishing revolution. In the early 1990s, she faced a largely librarian audience (described as “a lion in a den of Daniels”) and forecast experimentation in network delivery of electronic journals. True to her word, the TULIP project was launched by Elsevier and engaged nine libraries in grappling with early problems of file transfers, user interfaces, and access tools. Mid-project, the World Wide Web took hold and dramatically altered the landscape. Many subsequent digital journal projects benefited from the experiences of TULIP.

In the mid-1990s, Karen was one of two publisher representatives on a CPA/RLG committee dealing with digital preservation. The resulting report, Preserving Digital Information (1996), was prescient for its early recognition of new archiving roles and responsibilities for publishers, the value of certification for digital archives, and the critical relationship between publishers and libraries in providing long-term access to digital content. She continued her engagement in these issues, developing early archiving policies for Elsevier.

A third project, PEAK (Pricing Electronic Access to Knowledge), was a partnership between Elsevier and the University of Michigan. PEAK explored pricing of electronic content through a field experiment with diverse institutional participants. Karen was instrumental in giving the research group generous latitude in modeling pricing at a time when publishers were firming up their own models for e-journals, a rare (and risk-taking) level of independence for a project that was offering Elsevier’s entire journal portfolio.

Collaboration and innovation have been the true hallmarks of Hunter’s career. She has artfully woven her skills honed early as librarian (at Cornell University), her many publisher roles (new business development, managing director, strategist), and her interest in the thorny policy issues of mutual concern. Her graduate degrees in history, library science, and business administration provided a marvelous mix of perspectives. Her service within numerous stakeholder groups, from CrossRef, to CLOCKSS, to NISO’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Future Strategy, has left a significant mark.

In a recent commentary on risk taking and librarianship, Karen shared a compelling description of her imprint in our community. As she approaches retirement, she offered: “I would argue that over the years it has been in speaking out that I have made my career.” I would argue that her voice and her substantial contributions have distinguished her career and her legacy.    

Edward Swanson Remembered

Mary Beth Weber, ANO Editor

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of our colleague Edward Swanson, who passed away on December 10, 2010 following a brief illness.

Edward was well known for his work at the Minnesota Historical Society, where he worked for thirty-one years. During this time, he established his reputation as an outstanding cataloger and was one of the people who shaped AACR2 as well as the careers of many catalogers. Following his retirement from the historical society, he joined Minitex Contract Cataloging and managed their program. He served as the coordinator for the Minnesota PCC NACO Funnel. Edward retired from Minitex in January 2010.

Edward had a record of long and active professional service, including membership in ALA and ALCTS. He was a lifetime member of ALA. Edward’s ALCTS work includes an appointment as the LRTS Book Review Editor, which began in 2004. Under his leadership, the number of book reviews significantly increased. Edward also served as an ex-officio member of the LRTS Editorial Board, and indexed LRTS for decades, compiling the index for v. 1–25 in 1981, indexing the annual issues each year, and compiling the cumulative index to v. 1–50. There are 112 entries in WorldCat for him, and the majority is for AACR2 training manuals that he prepared with co-authors.

Edward served as the chair of CC:DA and was awarded the ALCTS Presidential Citation in 2007 in recognition for his contributions to ALCTS and the profession. In addition, he served on the ALCTS Board of Directors and his committee membership included terms on the ALCTS International Relations, Publications, and Membership Committees.

Edward was also active in IFLA, including an appointment to their Governing Board and membership on the Serials and Other Continuing Resources Section’s Standing Committee. His contributions to the Minnesota Library Association include serving as president. He was awarded the MLA President’s Award in 1981, and also received a Centennial Medal.

LRTS Editor Peggy Johnson was a close colleague and friend and noted, “He was always curious, always totally engaged, and a professional colleague and friend whom I and many others will miss.”