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

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