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Interview with Karen Clay, EOU

Continuing our interview series of reaching out to academic library leaders across the state to facilitate “getting to know” our colleagues… the next interview in this series is with Karen Clay, Library Director, at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande.

Thanks for talking with us, Karen!

Pierce Library, Eastern Oregon University

Pierce Library, Eastern Oregon University


1. Tell us a little bit about your work background.

My educational background is in Engineering, which is unusual for a librarian and probably what got me my first few library positions once I graduated with my MLIS.

Early on I worked for the Library at Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., providing their marketing arm with information to help them position their CANDU reactor in the global market. Their information needs were very broad, as they were interested in projecting the energy demand and governmental stability for numerous countries around the world. The role of the librarian was critical in helping provide and then sift through available data.

From there, I moved to academic libraries. I spent 5 years the University of Manitoba, a very large doctoral institution with a law school, a medical school, and multiple professional schools. I started in their Engineering Library and later became the Head of the Agriculture Library. I emigrated to the United States in 2001 (a few months before 9/11) to take a position as Head of the Engineering Library at Stanford University. In 2006 Eastern Oregon University offered to sponsor me for American citizenship, and I moved to La Grande to become Library Director here at EOU. These three academic institutions and their libraries have been utterly different from one another, which I have enjoyed – and I also hope it has given me some perspective as I move through my working life.

2. What has been the best thing that has happened to you since you started your position?

The most unique opportunity that has come my way here at EOU was the chance to be in involved in a fairly large scale library renovation – about $25 million. Not every aspect of this project was enjoyable — but it was always interesting and the renovation ended up being an unqualified success. One of my favorite parts was at the very beginning of the process – working with focus groups, trying to ferret out what our priorities should be for the new space, and then communicate those priorities to the architects. The other thing that I found very engrossing was the process of designing and laying out the stacks in the new collection space. It was not a trivial process by any means!

A big eye-opener for me was that our collection was very heavily used during the year that we were moved out of the Library, operating out of a much smaller space. We only had about one third of the collection available, and that third was not browse-able, as it was housed in closed stacks. I think many students preferred being able to simply pick up their requested books at the circulation desk, and not having to go wandering through the stacks themselves to find the books they wanted.

3. What would you like Oregon academic librarians to know about you?

Well – two things:
One is an admission that I don’t have very refined taste in books. I really like young adult books – also fantasy, science fiction, humor like Asterix comics, or mystery novels from the best-sellers list. I truly read for the sake of entertainment and escape, not enlightenment.

The other is that the thing I like very best about libraries is that over and over in my career I see evidence that libraries are strongest working together – I’ve seen it in Canada, where they have successful, centralized, country-wide initiatives, and I’ve seen it here with the Orbis Cascade Alliance. It’s nice to be in a profession where that is the case.

4. What is the biggest challenge facing your library in the upcoming year?

Our big challenge this year will be demonstrating that the Library remains relevant and vital as Eastern Oregon University evolves. The librarians here have done a very good job building new partnerships – in particular we have worked with our Division of Student Success to develop a First Year Experience class with a strong information literacy component. My challenge will be communicating the importance of this approach to the EOU administration. Our University President just came to EOU and to academia in July, from a career in the forest products industry. I report to an interim Provost who is facing numerous pressing challenges outside of the Library. Right now the institutional focus is very much on enrollment – I will need to find opportunities to talk about not just enrollment, but also the importance of retention, and the ways that the Library is effectively and demonstrably contributing to student retention and success.

5. What would you like Oregon academic librarians to know about your institution?

Eastern Oregon University has been through a difficult time and is beginning to embark on a cautious rebuilding and re-visioning. We have just emerged from the old OUS system, and now have our own institutional board. We have also just undergone some program cuts, and are looking to bolster the programs that remain and tentatively investigate possibilities for new programs. We are looking for better ways to serve our quite unique demographic – rural populations, students from low-income families, most of them first-generation, non-traditional students. Reaching students like this can be challenging, but it is very satisfying, and I think we do it well at EOU – both within and out of the Library.

6. What does advocacy for academic libraries look like from your perspective as a library director?

I see the academic library as a vital support unit within the institution. The role of the academic library will vary depending on the priorities of the institution. For example – the University of Manitoba, where I worked, is a large, research-focused, institution, and the Library collection is the major area of focus. The Library’s task there is primarily to make sure that the researchers have access to all the latest articles in their fields of study. At Stanford, the Libraries not only served very in-depth research needs, but also were involved in many cutting edge partnerships. Like the institution they serve, their role was to innovate and push boundaries – in this case by helping to curate unique collections around the world. At EOU, the Library has a large teaching role – we are very much a partner in helping students from diverse backgrounds succeed academically. It’s gratifying to me to see how many different ways there are for libraries to contribute to the educational enterprise.


Hannah Gascho Rempel, ACRL-OR Past President (2015-2016)
Associate Professor & Science Librarian
Oregon State University Libraries
hannah.rempel@oregonstate.edu

Interview with Chris Shaffer, OHSU

Continuing our interview series of reaching out to academic library leaders across the state to facilitate “getting to know” our colleagues… the next interview in this series is with Chris Shaffer, University Librarian and Associate Professor, at Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland.

Thanks for talking with us, Chris!


1. Tell us a little bit about your work background.

Chris Shaffer photo

Chris Shaffer (photo used with permission)

After receiving an undergraduate degree in philosophy, I started my career in libraries as an interlibrary loan clerk in a state college in Texas. My mother had worked as a serials librarian in the same library when I was growing up, and my cousin worked in the instructional technology unit as well. I was convinced to go to library school at the University of North Texas. I then applied to the University of Illinois at Chicago’s library residency program for new graduates and was surprised to be offered a job in the Library of the Health Sciences, working half time in interlibrary loan and half time in reference. That was followed by a stint at the National Library of Medicine’s outreach office in Chicago, exhibiting and teaching classes in a ten-state area. My mentor Jean Sayre recruited me to be Assistant Director for Public Services at the University of Iowa health sciences library, and in 2008, I moved to Oregon to become University Librarian and Associate Professor at OHSU.

2. What has been the best thing that has happened to you since you started your position?

It’s hard to pick one thing, but the establishment of the Ontology Development Group (ODG) stands out. When the federal stimulus act was underway, I received a phone call from Dr. Lee Nadler at Harvard University which resulted in a major grant to develop ontologies in support of research resource sharing. Melissa Haendel was hired to be lead ontologist, and from that beginning ODG has grown to become a department of the OHSU Library. ODG strives to promote research innovations, service development, and education through semantically enabled technologies for the purposes of data management and publication, research reproducibility, and the building of novel tools for biomedical data exploration. If I could list two things, I would add the growth of the OHSU Library’s Historical Collections & Archives programs. HC&A staff have built strong relationships with key stakeholders in the OHSU community that have resulted in significant donations and transfers, as well as rich programming.

3. What would you like Oregon academic librarians to know about you?

When I’m not working in libraries, I like to play board games and spend time with my family. My child will graduate from high school this year, so we are spending time on campus visits and applications, which have changed a lot since the last time I did it in the 1980s. As someone who has never owned a car, I love living in a city which has great public transit and support for active transportation. Someone once said that “Portland is a city surrounded by a gigantic park,” and that has definitely been my experience.

4. What is the biggest challenge facing your library in the upcoming year?

OHSU is going through massive transformations: from the Knight Cancer Challenge which successfully raised $1 billion for research to the launching of a new data science initiative; from curriculum changes in support of inter-professional education to the opening of a new School of Public Health with PSU; from the establishment of OHSU Partners with Salem Health to the establishment of a distributed rural campus. The Library is challenged to stay relevant and keep a seat at the table in a sea of change.

5. What would you like Oregon academic librarians to know about your institution?

With nearly 14,000 employees and a $2 billion budget, OHSU has nearly as many faculty (2,608) as students (2,861). The Library serves all mission areas: education, research, clinical, and outreach. We have joint education programs with OSU (pharmacy), PSU (public health and healthcare management), and OIT (clinical laboratory sciences and paramedic). There are campuses all over Oregon, including nursing programs at SOU, WOU, OIT, and Le Grande. A campus is being established in Thailand in cooperation with Bangkok Hospital and Siriraj Medical School, and a new rural campus has launched with locations in Coos Bay and Klamath Falls.

6. What does advocacy for academic libraries look like from your perspective as a library director?

Academic libraries have such a great future, if we can only look beyond the obvious challenges to our traditional roles. The key to advocating for libraries is providing services and collections that are relevant to users. If people need what you have, they will go to bat for you with administrators and decision makers. It’s all about building relationships and partnering — being an active member of your community.


Uta Hussong-Christian, ACRL-OR President (2015-2016)
Associate Professor | Science Librarian
Oregon State University Libraries
uta.hussong-christian@oregonstate.edu

Interview with Jackie Ray, Blue Mountain Community College

In an effort to help OR ACRL members to get to know our colleagues and library leaders from around the state, Board Member Arlene Weible recently interviewed two community college library directors who are new to their positions.

In this second of two posts, meet Jackie Ray, Director of Library and Media Services at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon.

1. Tell us a little bit about your work background.

Jackie Ray photo

Personal picture submitted by Jackie Ray

Jackie has a work history that has taken her both near and far from the Northwest. Originally from Washington State, she started at UW-Bothell as a library technician, and then moved to Oregon where she took a summer gig as a park ranger at Heceta Head Lighthouse in Oregon. She then worked as a Reference Assistant at Linn-Benton Community College and as an adjunct Librarian at Lane Community College before moving on to become the Learning Resources Center Director at Klamath Community College. Jackie decided to adventure around the country and left the state for several years with stints as the Head of Access Services in universities in New Hampshire and San Francisco. She has landed back in Oregon at Blue Mountain Community College about six months ago where she assumed the role of Director of Library and Media Services. She and her husband, both native Northwesterners, are happy to be back in Oregon.

2. What has been the best thing that has happened to you since you started your position?

Jackie is very proud of the library’s increased awareness in the library’s role in projects from Achieving the Dream to Assessment. Blue Mountain was selected to be a participant in the ACRL Assessment in Action program. This program provides training and grant support for the promotion of assessment activities on campus. It has been a great opportunity to work with faculty and administration across the college to develop an assessment program that specifically targets Information Literacy outcomes across the curriculum and delivery of IL instruction both for on-campus and distance education students. Having recently passed accreditation, Blue Mountain is using their involvement in Assessment in Action tools as one of the tools leveraging their strategic planning activities. The outcome of this project will be presented at a poster session at the ALA Annual Conference 2016 in Orlando, Florida.

Blue Mountain also hosted an OER conference earlier this spring and along with other community colleges has made great strides in expanding OER in the academic community. Jackie, with help from a grant from Openoregon.org, is also working closely with Eastern Promise faculty to develop an OER textbook for U.S. History courses that can be used both in the local high schools and at the community college.

3. What is the biggest challenge facing your library in the upcoming year?

After replacing a long-term director, Jackie has been challenged by upgrading and promoting the library’s image and services on campus. Blue Mountain has a great old building, but it needs upgrading to reflect the needs of local students. Jackie has observed that student still rely on college-provided technology rather than personal devices, and is optimistic in the Blue Mountain’s investment into an Academic Resource Center (ARC) in the library, equipped with laptops and other media production tools that will be open to both students and faculty. Jackie successfully lobbied for increased funding to acquire more library databases and will be collaborating with other departments to create a more learner-driven environment in the library and in other departments.

4. What would you like Oregon academic librarians to know about your institution?

Blue Mountain has a lot of potential and because of recent funding is in a great position to improve on all that we have, along with a vital “students first” attitude that is constantly being reinvigorated in our campus culture. Blue Mountain is at this time the only community college involved in the WICHE Interstate Passport program whose intent is to develop a two-year degree that is transferrable among seven states. Jackie served on a development team for establishing IL and Critical Thinking Outcomes. The Blue Mountain Community College Library strives for outreach, and hosts events that include a local artist gallery and writers’ readout which is a great resource for the Pendleton community.

Jackie Ray photo

Personal picture submitted by Jackie Ray

5. What would you like Oregon academic librarians to know about you?

Jackie’s professional interests include assessment, information literacy and instructional design and equity, particularly in distance learning.

She loves the outdoors, cooking, and dreams of owning a petting zoo. In the meantime she is a more regular animal lover and volunteers at the local animal shelter, PAWS.


~Arlene Weible, ACRL-Oregon State Library Representative (2013-2015)
Electronic Services Consultant
Library Development Services
Oregon State Library

Interview with Mark Petersen, Klamath Community College

In an effort to help ACRL-Oregon members to get to know our colleagues and library leaders from around the state, Board Member Arlene Weible recently interviewed two community college library directors who are new to their positions.

Mark Petersen picture

Personal picture submitted by Mark Petersen

In this post, meet Mark Petersen, Learning Resource Center Director at Klamath Community College in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

1. Tell us a little bit about your work background.

Like many people, I started out as a child. I am originally from Springfield, Oregon, and graduated from the University of Oregon in 1998 with a Bachelor’s degree in history and absolutely no idea what to do with the rest of my life.

I spent the next 9 years working a wide variety of jobs (dishwasher, line cook, graveyard shift at 7-11, welder…) before returning to graduate school to earn my MLS in 2009.

2. How long have you been in your position?

I have been library director at Klamath Community College since October of 2014. Prior to that I worked as a reference and instruction librarian at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany, and as a part-time reference librarian at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

3. What has been the best thing that has happened to you since you started your position?

I’d have to say the best thing professionally that has happened to me in the past year has been adding Robin Jeffrey to the staff at the KCC Library.

The library at KCC has only 2 full-time employees, and when I took over directorship the other position was still vacant. I spent the first 6 months or so working solo, trying my best to fulfill the duties of both positions while searching for the right person to fill the vacant position, and as soon as I met Robin for her interview I knew that she was that “right” person.

Robin is an absolute rock star, and I don’t know what I’d do without her. She has a natural gift for the profession, and it’s often hard for me to believe that this is her first job out of her MLS program. I think she’s going to do great things!

4. What is the biggest challenge facing your library in the upcoming year?

The biggest challenge facing this library has been its lack of presence on campus. There has been an enormous turnover in library staff, including multiple directors, during the past ten years that has resulted in the library being seriously neglected. When I took over in October, neither students nor staff were used to coming into the library for help, and that is a difficult pattern to change.

Both myself and Robin, the other librarian here at KCC, have been working very hard this past year to change this with, I am happy to say, great success. We have developed an information literacy instruction program from scratch that has been growing by about 200% a term, we have increased traffic and use of the library by about 400%, increased hours of operation by 10%, grown the print collection by over 30% and have seen great progress in developing faculty interest and use of Open Educational Resources.

5. What would you like Oregon academic librarians to know about your institution?

KCC has such an incredible diversity! I never would have expected it before I moved down here, but there is an amazingly broad spectrum of society represented by the student body both in terms of racial and cultural diversity, as well as socio-economic diversity.

6. What would you like Oregon academic librarians to know about you?

When I’m not practicing librarianism, I spend my time Cuban salsa dancing, cooking and, more to the point, eating amazing food and riding bikes.

~Arlene Weible, ACRL-Oregon State Library Representative (2013-2015)
Electronic Services Consultant
Library Development Services
Oregon State Library