What is your professional background? Computing and technology have been a part of my life since I was just 5 years old and my father spent all his savings to purchase a desktop computer—a Leading Edge Model D—the hottest thing in the personal computer market and one of the first IBM compatible computers made available for personal use.
Fast forward through teenage years spent programming and a degree in Information Science and Computer Engineering to my first job as a college sophomore working as a computer programmer on educational technologies. We developed the first social networking web application (or at least we like to think so). Designed to allow undergraduate students to work together on projects online, it connected with students in a hierarchy of networks—work group, class, department, college, university. Unfortunately, grant money doesn't last forever.
I moved on to work in an academic library—a perfect fit for me—where I could explore my interests in information management and search technology and leverage my knack for solving problems. I was amazed at the camaraderie in academic libraries—the willingness and desire to share with one another. Working at a library with a very limited technology scope—nothing more than a web page and an ILS system on a server in a corner—was like having a blank canvas. With a new passionate library director with a systems background, we worked for nearly 5 years to build a solid infrastructure of technology solutions and capabilities including:
- A home-grown ERMS
- A digital library infrastructure and DAMS (Digital Asset Management System) now available as the open source solution VuDL
- A citation management system for hosting the University's institutional bibliography and the Finding Augustine bibliography
- The open source catalog VuFind—while trying to find a "discovery" solution for the library's resources, I launched a prototype for a single search box tool to search all of the libraries resources. Unknown by most people, VuFind was initially intended to not just replace our library catalog, but to also replace our article search solution which was a federated search product. But because of the challenges involved with acquiring content from publishers and aggregators, VuFind became a tool discovering content local to a library—catalog records and institutional repository content.
What do you like most about working for Serials Solutions? The reason I moved from working in an academic library to a company in the library space was to have a broader impact in supporting academia and the research process. I've had the opportunity to meet with librarians and visit libraries all around the world and learn about the different perspectives of our clients. Serials Solutions is a small-sized business unit of highly passionate people which makes it a wonderful place to work— everyone's view point is heard, considered and matters—and that is worth its weight in gold.
What do you find most exciting about the future of libraries? I’m enamored with the new thinking around what the physical library will be in the next decade. The work that is being done at the new Hunt Library at North Carolina State University I think is incredibly exciting. Now that libraries are embracing ways to engage users in their digital space (such as with Summon) it’s interesting to see how that also impacts the way they think about their physical space and how services need to be provided there.
Who is your favorite author? I rarely read books that aren't produced by O'Reilly, and I'm a Gen-Y'r, so a book is too long for my attention span. But since I am also a SciFi geek, I loved reading Robert Heinlein books before I had children and the disappearance of that miraculous thing called "spare time." I will generally read any content (articles, books, tweets, etc.) produced by Lawrence Lessig, one of the greatest thinkers of our time.
Do you have a favorite library? If so, which one? I've had the pleasure of visiting many libraries in my career, but I would have to say that my most favorite library is one I visited before I ever started working in and with libraries. Some friends and I walked around Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale University and I was completely awestruck with the facility—it’s basically a large cube made of translucent marble. There is minimal lighting and no windows, so the translucent marble keeps the inside lit up during the day. The Beinecke Library has some of the last remaining Gutenberg Bibles as well as some extremely rare books bound in human flesh.
What can you tell us about yourself that we might never guess? I am currently half way through renovating my second house—by myself! In our first house, a complete fixer-upper, I tore out the kitchen and two bathrooms down to the studs, then re-wired, re-plumbed, re-drywalled and finished them with only the help of some friends and family. I've found myself doing the exact same thing in our second home. As I write this, I’m in the process of renovating my kitchen—doing all the work myself. It's fun, extremely rewarding and very cost effective. I've found the most important thing is to know when you've reached your limits and to keep an electrician and plumber on speed dial!