Second UI librarian candidate stresses collaboration

BY EVAN HAFNER | APRIL 09, 2013 5:00 AM

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Jay Starratt said the future of the University of Iowa’s libraries must include collaboration.

“Collaboration is very powerful,” he said. “In our partnerships with scholars, faculty, and other libraries, we are going to come up with a model that will benefit an entire research community.”

Starratt spoke at a public forum on Monday as the second of four candidates interviewing for the UI’s University Librarian position.

Each candidate is responsible for presenting a forum on the future of the library in a research-intensive university. In turn, each finalist hopes to obtain the head position of one of the largest libraries in the country.

Starratt, the dean of libraries at Washington State University, began his presentation by addressing the future of libraries.

“The future moves very quickly down avenues that we never knew existed,” he said. “Even if we cannot predict what the future holds, we must remain relevant to ensure the importance of libraries.”

Officials are now sifting through candidates to replace Nancy Baker, the current University Librarian. Baker’s salary is $198,154.

“Libraries are in a time of great change, and it’s not clear exactly where they’re going,” Steven Fleagle, the UI associate vice president for Information Technology Services, said in an April 2 Daily Iowan  article. “There’s something new on the horizon, and [the University Librarian] should figure out what direction to go and help us get there.”

According to the position description, the University Librarian will encourage user-focused services, develop partnerships on and off campus, collaborate with other libraries, engage in strategic national initiatives, and state and federal legislative issues. The librarian oversees a $24.1 million budget.

Starratt said the UI’s digital products must remain sustainable and robust, with the ability to meet the ongoing demands of online learning.

He said he believes collaboration is the key to meeting these demands.

“Collaboration will ensure that we are taking full advantage of our resources,” he said. “We need to be active and engaged in our community in order to fulfill the goals of the University of Iowa. We want to be the leaders here.”

The forum also included a question-and-answer session for the audience near the end. One of the attendees asked how Starratt intends to get the UI Libraries to the top of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, an academic consortium of Big Ten universities, plus the University of Chicago (a former member of the Big Ten).

“We must remain involved,” Starratt said. “I have a lot of contacts in the [committee], and I am influential in these areas. We will definitely be a player in the [committee] if I come here.”

Starratt continued by descrbing how collaboration solidifies this process.

“My whole career is about collaboration and the fact that we must work with other libraries,” Starratt said. “When our voice is heard over and over again, something is going to happen. Collaboration means more voices.”

UI Professor Richard Fumerton, a cochairman of the search committee for the position, spoke highly of Starratt.

“This is a search for our new librarian, and Starratt is a great candidate,” Fumerton said. “As a master of librarianship and a director of technical and automation services, Starratt boasts an impressive number of publications as well as the ideal résumé for this position.”

However, Fumerton said, the final decision will be based on more than mere qualifications and experience.

“We are looking at everything,” he said. “We want leadership and work ethic. We want someone who can keep our library improving in every aspect.”

The final two candidates, who have not yet been announced, will present their forums later this month.

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