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 Nancy Hoover, the University Librarian at Marylhurst University, just south of Portland.
Thanks for talking with us, Nancy!
1. Tell us a little bit about your work background.
My name is Nancy Hoover, and I am the University Librarian (UL) at Marylhurst University. I have a BA in Literature from Antioch College and a MLS from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Pratt Institute [now known as the “School of Information”] in Brooklyn, NY. I started out working in special libraries before moving into academics. I was Systems and Technical Services Librarian before becoming the UL at Marylhurst in 2003. As Systems Librarian, I guided the conversion from a card catalog to a stand-alone Dynix system and the conversion from the stand-alone system to the Innovative web-based system which included membership and integration in the Orbis Cascade Alliance. More recently, Marylhurst volunteered to be in the first cohort of libraries to go live on the new Orbis Cascade Alliance Shared Integrated Library System (SILS).
2. What has been the best thing that has happened to you since you started your position?
This is a tough question to answer because so many great things have happened to me since becoming the UL. If I had to pick one thing, it would be leadership opportunities. The Systems and Technical Services Librarian position I held was very much a behind-the-scenes job; I did not have a lot of contact with folks on campus. When I became the UL, I was suddenly on every committee and out in a very public-facing way. The UL is a very distinct and unique position on campus, one that gives you a neutral view of all programs and support systems without necessarily having a stake in their respective interests. Librarians are collaborators, and the library supports the entire university. Because of this, I was appointed to lead many initiatives and groups ranging from technology planning, strategic planning, and accreditation, and I was elected to serve as chair of the faculty governance organization. With the support of the MU administration, I was selected as a Frye Leadership Institute Fellow in 2012, currently named the Leading Change Institute, the EDUCAUSE leadership institute for librarians and technologists.
3. What would you like Oregon academic librarians to know about you?
The most enjoyable parts of my job are mentoring (whether that is my team, library interns or mentees and volunteers) and teaching. I was mentored as a new library director by an experienced library director who I could still call on for advice if needed. I love sharing my experience and enthusiasm for our profession with new or soon-to-be new graduates, and in turn, I am inspired by those new to the profession who have innovative and creative ideas for teaching and learning. I have had several folks either go to library school while working at Marylhurst and/or move up into advanced positions in other libraries, and I am very proud of their success in our field. And I love teaching and having direct contact with students and helping them meet their goals. Although I no longer teach at Emporia or Portland State, I do teach classes here at Marylhurst.
4. What is the biggest challenge facing your library in the upcoming year?
I would have to say keeping up with technology will be our biggest challenge. The new integrated library system mentioned above is still in development and is constantly being improved, but along with improvements come challenges. Management of electronic resources forced a big organizational and structural change for us; the resources are embedded in our back-end-module unlike our previous arrangement where electronic resources were managed and paid for separately. It takes our entire staff to work closely together on upgrades, identifying bugs, creating workarounds, etc. Every day I count my lucky stars that I have such a diligent, hard-working, dedicated, and smart staff who like solving problems, and that we have the power of the Alliance with us.
5. What would you like Oregon academic librarians to know about your institution?
Marylhurst is a small school but our small size allows us to be nimble and to respond to the needs of our students and the community. We are an outcomes-based, writing-intensive educational institution. Marylhurst was an early adopter of online distance learning in the 1990s and was a Beta-test site for WebCT. Also in the early 1990s, the university adopted information literacy outcomes in the undergraduate general education requirements, which at the time was quite innovative because we taught the required 3-credit information literacy class with face-to-face sections as well as online. Currently, the information literacy-required outcome is in a 3-credit research writing class that is co-taught by a librarian and a writing instructor. This class is one of only a few courses that students must take at Marylhurst; other general education requirements can be transferred in. Faculty were in unanimous support of this vitally important requirement for undergrads.
6. What does advocacy for academic libraries look like from your perspective as a library director?
Academic libraries must demonstrate their value to the academy in terms of student and faculty success. Academic libraries are both an academic support and a student service. We are not the heart of the university; teaching and learning are the heart of the university, and libraries exist to support teaching and learning. We must demonstrate that the skills and knowledge we teach are critical to the success of students, while in school and later in their lives, as informed citizens and information-savvy members of society. To do this, libraries need to be involved in general education on campus to ensure that students are getting the information they need, and libraries need to have assessment plans that demonstrate the impact they have on student learning, retention, and success. Librarians need to be available to students at the point of need; at Marylhurst, our librarians are embedded in each online course shell so they are available when students have questions about their research. Lastly, we can advocate for ourselves by sharing our skills and expertise with the university, for example, by participating in the accreditation process, assisting with campus assessment projects, and creating digital repositories that serve the entire institution, to name but a few.
Elizabeth Brookbank, ACRL-OR Public Universities Representative (2015-2017)
Western Oregon University