Library Director Candidates Present to Students, Faculty


Yingran Zhang

College Sophomore Gabe Steller assists a student at the front desk of Mudd Library. A new director of libraries will be chosen in the coming weeks after candidates visit campus.

Eliza Guinn , Copy Editor

Oberlin College is searching for a new director of libraries after the departure of Ray English, who retired at the end of the spring 2015 semester. English served as director for 25 years.

The search is coming to a close as the three candidates arrive on campus to deliver talks over the next two weeks.

The director of libraries heads all libraries on campus, including Mudd library, the Science Library, the Conservatory Library, the Clarence Ward Art Library and all special exhibits.

Pablo Mitchell, chair of the Library Director Search Committee, said that the library is in the process of holding presentations given by the candidates titled “The Future of the Liberal Arts College Library.”

“The search committee was established last September, around the time the ad for the job was first put out,” said Mitchell in an email to the Review. “The committee will make its recommendation to Deans Elgren and Kalyn, to whom the director of libraries jointly reports, in early March. We hope the new director will be able to start this summer, around July 1.”

According to the invitation to apply for the position, the candidates would be responsible for “collection development, technology integration, space planning and utilization, and the need for effective staff and organizational development to support rapidly changing user needs and expectations.”

The document lists the qualities a successful candidate would need to have. These include being comfortable and productive in a collaborative work environment and understanding technology and its advances in order to serve the students and staff of Oberlin.

“It’s a critical position at the College, a job with wide-ranging responsibilities,” Mitchell said.

According to Mitchell, the director of libraries is a challenging position that requires the candidates to have firm leadership skills and demands the ability to create solutions quickly. Along with other responsibilities, the director will have to manage the libraries’ funds.

“My transition to the Interim Director role has felt quite smooth,” said Alan Boyd in an email to the Review. “I’ve of course been lucky to be able to work with the entire library staff, many of whom also have a long tenure here at the library. We continue to make progress on new forms of outreach to first year students, ever more in-class teaching activities, new digital scholarship initiatives, and continued collaboration with the 700+ member Friends of the Oberlin College Library organization.”

The first applicant, Katherine Furlong, visited campus Monday. Furlong is the director of the Blough-Weis Library and the university librarian at Susquehanna University. She has also served as the director of access and technical services at Lafayette College, the instruction coordinator and reference librarian at Gettysburg College, has worked in user education and electronic resources at the University of Maine at Farmington and has been president of the board of the Pennsylvania Interlibrary Delivery Service.

“The committee is seeking feedback by distributing a confidential web survey form link to all involved, including those that attend the public presentations and reception,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell encouraged all available students to attend the presentations. The talks will give students, faculty, staff and community members the opportunity to meet the candidates.

“I think the staff are all looking forward to working with the new library director as we continue to engage the Oberlin community and support College and the Conservatory faculty and students as they teach and carry out research in an increasingly complex information environment,” Boyd said.