Interview with Brent Mai, Concordia University
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 Brent Mai, Dean of Libraries, Concordia University in Portland.
Thanks for talking with us, Brent!
1. Tell us a little bit about your work background.
I began my career in librarianship as an industry business analyst with Bell Northern Research (today Nor-Tel) in Dallas and moved on to become a competitive intelligence researcher with Brown & Root (today KBR) in Houston. I moved to academia with a faculty appointment in the Management & Economics Library of the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University where I coordinated all instruction and integrated research methods classes into the entire curriculum. Purdue was followed by serving as the director of the Walker Management Library at the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. Almost 13 years ago, I came to Portland as the Dean of University Libraries at Concordia University. At Concordia, we’ve built a new library building and expanded the staff from 2.5 to 23.5 FTE (plus student workers) and the collections from 55,000 print volumes to over 160,000 print volumes and about 250,000 e-volumes.
2. What has been the best thing that has happened to you since you started your position?
Concordia became part of the Orbis-Cascade Alliance several years ago, and the friendships that have developed among the various library directors has been very rewarding, personally as well as professionally. They are a great group of people with a huge range of talent and expertise that they are willing to share with each other!
3. What would you like Oregon academic librarians to know about you?
I’m a big advocate for the role of libraries (and more importantly librarians) in the academic community. Academic libraries are charged with oversight of a good-sized chunk of a given institution’s fiscal expenses that support the research capacity of its faculty and students. Academic librarians have a unique vantage point from which to observe and participate in the breadth of scholarly activities that take place on a campus, and our campus-wide observations and participation with faculty, staff, and students help us to allocate resources in the most effective and efficient way to support the institution’s mission. This role is critical to an institution’s success!
4. What is the biggest challenge facing your library in the upcoming year?
For the past several years, Concordia has experienced phenomenal growth in the size of its student body (from 1,000 to 9,000), and most of that growth has occurred in online programs. Being able to deliver the resources needed by the students and faculty in these programs is an ongoing challenge – both technologically and fiscally.
5. What would you like Oregon academic librarians to know about your institution?
The faculty and staff of the Concordia University Libraries are top-notch people, and working with them is a distinct honor and privilege. During our unprecedented growth, we reached out to colleagues at other institutions for advice and support, and it’s now out turn to reciprocate and offer assistance to others who may need it now or in the future.
6. What does advocacy for academic libraries look like from your perspective as a library director?
I think I covered this one up in Question 3!
~ Stephanie Debner, ACRL-OR Vice President – President Elect (2015-2016)
Faculty Librarian, Mt. Hood Community College
A good interview of an interesting person. From KBR to Concordia, wow!