The Work of a Library Director

Lauren at the Library of Congress
Lauren at the Library of Congress

I am an academic librarian because I believe in libraries as institutions and I believe that the world is a better place because of libraries. Academic libraries have the power to transform research, teaching, learning, and ultimately society through their position within the academy.

Throughout my career I have worked to help libraries, and those who work in them, adapt to new and emerging patron needs. I’ve been able to do that as an instructional design librarian, head of an instruction program (we taught credit bearing courses!), as director of “learning environments,” and now as director of your library.

My calling to librarianship is not one of unquestioning vocational awe, but rather a drive to build on the strength of our values, tradition, and history to continually improve the profession. Library work, today, means balancing and navigating conflicting ideas. Our relatively homogeneous field is working to become more equitable, diverse, and inclusive. Our profession is based on stability at a time when there are clear cultural transitions towards more adaptive and agile approaches. The very structure of information within the library is hierarchical at a time in which many organizations and systems are becoming flatter and more decentralized. Libraries exist to preserve the cultural record, yet that work is harder to do with our increasing service and programmatic offerings. These challenges are interesting to me, and it is enormously rewarding to work with librarians throughout the profession to build on the foundation and legacy of those who came before while seeking new answers.

I do this at UW Tacoma as director of the library, working with our staff and student employees to develop services, spaces, and resources to help our students and faculty achieve their goals. I also am an associate dean for the UW Libraries, where I represent UW Tacoma in tri-campus discussions about the future of the libraries, emerging forms of research and scholarship, and student success. I also have the enormous privilege of serving as the President of the Association of College and Research Libraries, the higher education association for academic libraries and library workers. ACRL represents more than 10,000 individuals and libraries, and develops programs, products, and services to help those working in academic and research libraries learn, innovate, and lead within the academic community.

I look forward to sharing more about the work of academic libraries and what we do for the UW Tacoma community in this blog in future posts. If you have any questions you’d like to see answered, please include them in the comments. I’d be happy to write follow-up posts addressing them.

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