Final UI librarian candidate visits campus


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Libraries are quickly changing, both dealing with new technology as well as dealing with budget cuts, and the University of Iowa is dealing with a new change — finding a head librarian to handle all the university’s libraries.

The final candidate, John Culshaw, participated in a forum Wednesday afternoon at the Bijou. The search committee has evaluated the four candidates over the past two weeks, and the earliest a decision will be made is in the coming two weeks.

The candidate chosen will replace Nancy Baker, the current University Librarian. Baker’s salary is $198,154.

Culshaw spoke about three main points he hoped to address, should he be chosen for the position: material collections, library spaces, and services the library could potentially provide.

“Special collections and archives are the future of research libraries,” said Culshaw, the senior associate dean for administration at the University of Colorado-Boulder. “Both in physical and digital forms.”

Culshaw spoke on the importance of remaining flexible to students’ needs — he particularly commended the UI for the work being made on the Learning Commons, slated to be complete this fall.

One UI librarian said the common theme between the four candidates is the importance of collaboration.

“It is certainly key to work with one another,” said Steve Ostrem, research and instruction librarian. “This is evidenced by the learning commons to be done; we worked with the IT department. All four candidates also addressed the problem that [the library] can’t have everything people want, so it’s important to work with others.”

The candidates were all given the idea of the “future of the library” they needed to address in their speech.

The co-heads of the search committee both stressed being able to deal with the new changes in the library as an important aspect they are looking for in the candidates.

“I want them to lead us and decide between a balancing act between maintaining the critical aspects of the library and also look at how to evolve,” said UI Professor Richard Fumerton.

Steve Fleagle, the UI associate vice president for Information Technology Services, also believed it is important to have some knowledge of technology, or the ability to work with ITS, in order to accommodate the technology changes within libraries.

“Libraries are in a midst of transformation,” he said. “Technology is an important part of the future for libraries. We need someone who will at least work with the technology, such as what the libraries are doing with the TILE classrooms.”

Both officials were impressed with the candidates and the wide variety of expertise.

“You would expect with this prestigious of an institution that you would have candidates interested,” Fleagle said. “We got very good candidates. We also have a very strong library, so that may have drawn people to apply.”

Culshaw was drawn to the position because of the similarities between the University of Colorado-Boulder and the UI.

“Professionally, I’m ready for this transition,” he said. “I think that the UI and the University of Colorado are comparably sized for the campus, and their libraries are comparably sized in terms of size and staff. The UI also values higher education, and I value higher education as well.”

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