All posts by Aaron Welborn

Staff News

Libraries Announce Senior Leadership Appointments

Earlier this year, the Duke University Libraries announced two appointments to our senior leadership team, after dual national searches. Both will serve as members of the Libraries’ Executive Group, reporting to the University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs.

Jameca Dupree

Jameca Dupree has been named Associate University Librarian and Director of Financial and Facility Services. In this role, she will have overall responsibility for the financial affairs and administrative operations of the Libraries, overseeing a $36 million operating budget and providing leadership over a division that includes Business Services, Facilities and Distribution Services, and the Library Service Center.

Dupree has worked at Duke for twenty-one years, including seventeen in the Libraries, in progressively responsible administrative, budget, and financial oversight roles. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from North Carolina Wesleyan College, and a MBA from Fayetteville State University—both of which she earned while working full-time in the Libraries.

Emily Daly

Dupree’s appointment coincides with another addition to the Libraries’ Executive Group. Emily Daly has been named Associate University Librarian for Research and Public Services. In this position, Daly will provide leadership, vision, and strategic direction to advance the core teaching, learning, and research services of the Libraries. The division she oversees is broadly responsible for providing individualized library help and outreach to students, faculty, university staff, and the general public. Research and Public Services includes Access and Delivery Services, the East Campus Libraries, International and Area Studies, Humanities and Social Sciences, Natural Sciences and Engineering, and the Marine Lab Library.

In addition to her work in the Libraries, where she has served in both librarian and managerial capacities since 2006, Daly has an extensive record of service to Duke. She currently serves on the Master’s Advisory Council and has been an academic advisor to pre-major Duke undergraduates since 2010. Daly holds a bachelor’s degree in English from North Carolina State University, and a master’s in Library Science from UNC-Chapel Hill.

New Residency Program Launched for Early Career Librarians

As part of our commitment to embody the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our work, the Duke University Libraries has launched a new residency program for early career librarians. The program seeks to provide meaningful work placements in specialized fields of librarianship, aligning the professional goals of residents with the strategic goals of the Libraries. While learning on the job, residents will work with colleagues who are highly skilled in these specialized areas and receive relevant development and training.

As a member of the ACRL Diversity Alliance, the Libraries established the Residency Program as part of our organization’s commitment to “diversify and thereby enrich the profession” and “to build an inclusive organizational culture supportive of Black, Indigenous and People of color (BIPOC).”

The residency program guarantees professional development funding to residents to fund travel, conference attendance, presentations, and other activities related to skill-building and their ongoing career trajectories. Residents are placed intentionally with the goal of their positions becoming regular, ranked librarian positions if successful during their three-year terms.

We are happy to announce the appointments of our first two residents. Adhitya Dhanapal has been appointed as Resident Librarian for South and Southeast Asian Studies, effective December 1. And Zhou Pan will serve as Resident Librarian for Resource Description, effective August 14. We are delighted to welcome them both to Duke!

Duke Selects New Library Enterprise System

Although most library users won’t notice any difference, changes are coming to an important back-end system the Duke University Libraries uses to handle everything from checking out books to managing thousands of databases and online resources. Between now and summer 2024, we will sunset our legacy library enterprise system and transition to the Ex Libris Alma Library Services Platform.

Most large research libraries like Duke’s rely on various commercial and open-source software products to handle the everyday work of library staff, integrating systems for broad interoperability and accessibility while at the same time providing a high-quality user experience to library patrons.

While Duke has long contributed to the development of open-source library technologies (we were the founding institution of the Open Library Environment and a charter member of FOLIO), the decision to implement Alma was made after an extensive internal review of the specific library needs of the Duke community, including the separately administered libraries serving the schools of Business, Law, Divinity, and Medicine, as well as Duke Kunshan University Library. After evaluating financial considerations, impact on staffing, and the sustainability of wide-ranging library technology projects in which Duke has invested heavily, library leadership decided to move forward with Alma.

“We are in a better place today because of the contributions and work of our staff, who have laid the foundation for stronger, more sustainable library system at Duke,” said Joseph Salem, Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs. “These investments, collaborations, and projects have been worthwhile in preparing us for an impactful future serving the Duke community.”

“We have a notable history of innovation through leveraging and integrating multiple technology platforms for library users,” said Tim McGeary, Associate University Librarian for Digital Strategies & Technology. “We remain proud of FOLIO, our contributions and collaboration, and of our colleagues that have fully implemented FOLIO.  We will work with the FOLIO community during this transition to minimize impact on leadership and staff collaboration, and we will fulfill the financial commitments we have made in shared development projects. We also remain proud of our partnership with Index Data, which will continue through hosting and supporting the Library Data Platform. Index Data’s dedication to FOLIO, Project ReShare, and open-source technology development in libraries is strong, and we look forward to future partnerships.”

Project plans for implementing Alma are being developed and will be communicated soon.

A Week in the Life of a Library Intern

By Jovana Ivezic, Senior Conservation Technician

This summer, the Libraries’ Conservation Services department was delighted to welcome to Duke our newest HBCU Library Alliance intern, Angela Nettles. Angela is a rising senior at Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she is studying Africana Women’s Studies.

Intern Angela Nettles prepping exhibit gallery walls

The internship program, sponsored by the University of Delaware and the HBCU Library Alliance, places interested undergraduates from historically black colleges and universities with host institutions, where they learn hands-on library preservation skills under the mentorship of professional conservators and library staff. By providing students from HBCUs with specialized and marketable skills, the program ultimately aims to diversify the library profession.

Assisting with collection treatments in the Conservation Lab

After two years of conducting the internship online due to COVID, it was refreshing to have an intern onsite again, and Angela dove right into work. During her first week, she assisted the Libraries’ Exhibition Department with setting up our new exhibit in the Chappell Family Gallery, Mandy Carter: Scientist of Activism. From sanding walls to setting up exhibit cases and adjusting overhead lights, Angela eagerly took part in every step of the process. She also spent time in the Verne and Tanya Roberts Conservation Lab, learning about how conservators make treatment decisions for general collections, and even performing some treatments herself. Interns like Angela spend four weeks onsite at their host institutions, in addition to two weeks of virtual classes with their fellow interns around the country.

This is the fifth year Duke has participated in the HBCU Library Alliance Summer Conservation/Preservation Internship Program, and we look forward to seeing what else Angela will accomplish in her career!

In the News: MLK Discovery Makes Headlines

A new biography of Martin Luther King, Jr., contains an object lesson—with a Duke connection—on consulting the primary source.

While doing research for his new life of King, author Jonathan Eig made a significant discovery in the papers of Alex Haley held by Duke’s Rubenstein Library.

What he found was that a harsh and oft-quoted criticism King once leveled at Malcolm X had in fact been made up by Haley. The fraudulent quote has been widely circulated in print and taught in history classes, influencing perceptions of the two leaders for decades.

The source of the revelation is the original transcript of Haley’s interview with King, later published in Playboy in 1965. It was the longest interview King ever granted to any publication and extensively covers his thoughts on the Civil Rights Movement. Among other things, King never said he felt “Malcolm has done himself and our people a great disservice,” by employing “fiery demagogic oratory in the black ghettoes, urging Negroes to arm themselves and prepare to engage in violence.” King did say some of those things at different points in the interview, but not in that context, and not directed at Malcolm X.

The finding, originally reported by The Washington Post, takes up only a paragraph in Eig’s book but may have profound implications. It is expected to reshape historians’ understanding of King’s and Malcolm X’s relationship and raise additional doubts about Haley’s credibility, which has come into question in recent years amid other allegations of plagiarism, fabrications, and manipulated quotes.

Honoring a Duke Trailblazer and LGBTQ+ Advocate

Duke students pose with Dr. Janie K. Long (center), who retired from Duke as Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education in 2020.

“A safe space for all,” reads a new plaque on the fourth floor of Perkins Library. Fitting words for someone who made countless students feel safe and seen during their time at Duke—Janie K. Long.

Dr. Long retired in 2020. She had worked at Duke since 2006, first as Director of the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, then as Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, making her arguably the most senior “out” administrator at Duke. For years, students consistently ranked her classes in Women’s Studies and Sexuality Studies among the university’s top 5 percent.

Today, thanks in part to Dr. Long’s efforts, Duke is a more inclusive and equitable environment for all. The Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity—which Long led until 2014—now has a prominent location in the Bryan Center. Duke’s Lavender Graduation celebration for LGBTQ+ graduates—which Long established—and Duke’s annual National Coming Out Day celebration are both longstanding and beloved campus traditions.

Dr. Long speaking at the dedication ceremony of a Perkins Library study space named in her honor, April 2023.

After she retired, some of Dr. Long’s friends and former students began discussing how they could honor her many contributions to Duke. They soon found an enthusiastic partner in the Duke University Libraries.

“It is impossible to overstate the impact Janie has made on the hearts, minds, and lives of Duke students,” said Howard Menaker T’74, one of a small group of Duke alumni who organized the effort to celebrate her legacy. “We wanted to find a way to honor her in a permanent way, and the Duke Libraries offered a wonderful way to do so.”

Their plans finally came to fruition this past April, when friends and well-wishers gathered to dedicate a library study space in Long’s honor—the first in our history named for an LGBTQ+ Duke administrator. Her legacy of working for a more diverse and inclusive Duke will also live on through the Janie K. Long Lecture Series, a newly established speaker series focusing on topics of interest to queer communities and highlighting library collections on the history of women, gender, and sexuality.

The first talk in the series took place after the dedication ceremony, featuring a panel discussion on queer student activism at Duke. Panelists included Mandy Carter, Durham-based Black lesbian activist and the subject of our newest library exhibit in the Chappell Family Gallery; Angel Collie, Director of Duke’s Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity; Liam Miranda T’16 SPP’21, Senior Director of Research and Training at the Inclusion Playbook; and Janelle Taylor T’19, Policy Consultant at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Duke students celebrate Coming Out Day 2015 on the Bryan Center Plaza, an annual campus tradition that Dr. Long helped start.

The panel was moderated by Steven Petrow T’78, contributing columnist for the Washington Post and author, who helped to raise funds for the study space and lecture series named in Dr. Long’s honor.

“Her story is really part of our story,” said Petrow, who befriended Long shortly after she came to Duke in 2006. “I was a history major at Duke, so I always believe in the importance of understanding our history to understand our present and perhaps better indicate where we are going. Janie Long is really fundamental to the history of LGBTQ+ individuals at Duke. I think it’s crucial that we remember her and her many contributions.”

What Students Are Saying About Lilly

Students study for finals in Lilly Library, April 2023. (Photo by Bill Snead, University Communications)

Every couple of years, we survey the student body to understand how they view our services, spaces, and materials, and how satisfied they are with their overall library experience. (The short version: very satisfied, if we do say so ourselves.)

This year, approximately 2,500 Duke students responded to our call for feedback—about 15 percent of the total student population—evenly split between undergraduates and graduate students. Their answers were both candid (“I can never find an open group study room in Perkins”) and imaginative (“NAP PODS! This would be a game changer”).

Some of the most interesting findings were in the open-ended comments, where students could share anything they wanted us to know. The things they had to say about Lilly Library, in particular, reveal the fondness many students have for the East Campus library and its staff. But even Lilly’s most devoted fans found plenty of room for improvement in the current condition of the aging building, driving home the need for the upcoming renovation and expansion.

“I love Lilly Library. I wish I had more reason to visit Perkins/Bostock, but I am a Dance graduate student, so Lilly’s collections are more relevant to my research.” – Master’s student

“Lilly has the best vibes.” – First-year undergraduate

“The staff at Lilly is fantastic and I love going in to pick up books for my research, but as a workspace for graduate students it leaves a little to be desired.” – Ph.D. candidate

“I proudly don a Lilly sticker on my laptop. Some of the biggest things I’ll miss at Duke, when it’s time for me to go, are the libraries.” – Ph.D. candidate

“I really love Lilly Library! I study there every day and it’s an irreplaceable part of my life at Duke.” – Master’s student

“I like the study spaces on the first floor at Lilly Library because of how open the space is, so there are people watching out for each other. It makes me feel safer.” – Master’s student

“Get nicer chairs with some padding in Lilly, and please upgrade the Lilly basement.” – First-year undergraduate

“I always feel welcome in Lilly Library in particular (the library where I spend most of my time)—the staff is welcoming and friendly, and I always feel safe and comfortable there.” – Senior undergraduate

“Lilly Library has a bit limited collaboration space, which is filled up very quickly around the time of midterms and finals.” – First-year undergraduate

“I wish Lilly Library had a cafe, or even just a coffee machine in it.” – Master’s student

We hear you, and we’re doing something about it.

Over the next few months, we’ll be analyzing the survey data and ultimately use it to make service enhancements, expenditures, and other improvements across the Duke University Libraries. The more feedback we get, the better equipped we are to improve the services we already offer and develop new ones to meet students’ emerging needs.

Students study for finals in Lilly Library, April 2023. (Photo by Bill Snead, University Communications)

Q&A with Jodi Psoter, Librarian for Marine Sciences

The Pearse Memorial Library at the Duke Marine Lab is our only library with an ocean view. Meet the new librarian at the helm.

Sunrise at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC. (Photo by Jared Lazarus, University Communications)

After serving since 2017 as Librarian for Chemistry and Statistical Sciences on the main campus in Durham, Jodi Psoter relocated to Beaufort, North Carolina, to take over the library at Duke’s year-round coastal campus there. We recently sat down with her to ask how she’s settling in, and to understand how the small, specialized library she leads supports important Duke research on climate change, marine conservation, and environmental policy.

It’s been about six months since you moved from Durham to Beaufort. Looking back, what have been some of the best parts about the transition?

Jodi Psoter

I’ve loved moving to a new environment. I’ve lived in the mountains, when I worked at Williams College in Massachusetts. Then I moved to the Piedmont, when I first started working for Duke. Now I live at the beach! I just keep moving down in elevation. It’s a smaller community than Durham, but it’s sunny and there’s no snow, which is a delight for me. It also turns out that when you move to the beach, people you don’t talk to every day start talking to you. I didn’t realize how many people across the Duke Libraries have connections to the students and faculty at the Marine Lab and the research they do here. So I’ve enjoyed getting to work with new colleagues, both here and back at the Durham campus.

Another cool thing is that when people tour the Marine Lab, the tours always come through the library. So I meet a lot of people that way!

What do you miss about Durham, and how often do you get back?

The food! Lunch in the Marine Lab dining hall is buffet-style from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. That’s it. If you miss it, you miss lunch. There’s also not the variety of food you get in Durham, so I’ve been cooking more.

My parents actually live in Durham. Early in the pandemic, they came down from Massachusetts to visit me so we could form a bubble, and they never went back! They eventually got their own place. I go back to see them once a month, and I try to schedule my visits to the main campus around those trips.

Who uses the Marine Lab Library?

The faculty, students, and staff at the Marine Lab all use the library, but they use it in different ways. The faculty come in and chat for a while, or pick up books they’ve requested, but they’re not usually working in the space. The students tend to use the library as a change of scenery. They come here to relax or study together. We have a “creativity corner” for them with puzzles, coloring books, Sudoku, and other mental distractions, because that’s how I like to work. It helps to stop every now and then, use a different part of your brain, and refocus. As for the staff of the Marine Lab, they tend to use the library for pleasure reading. We have a nice collection of popular new releases right near the entrance, so they draw people in.

New releases on display in the library. (Photo courtesy Jodi Psoter)

As a Marine Lab newbie, you’ve been getting to know your new community. What have been some of the more interesting discoveries you’ve made?

The views never get old. If you sit in the librarian’s office, you can watch tugboats guiding the big cargo ships into port. You can also see dolphin pods and wild horses on the islands across the channel. The other day I was teaching a workshop, and I looked out the classroom window and said, “Oh, the horses are back!” Everyone stopped and turned to watch for a minute. The students see them all the time, but it never ceases to delight them.

Another discovery is that I have to plan library workshops around the weather. If it’s supposed to be sunny and beautiful, the students are going to be out on the research vessels doing fieldwork, not in the classroom or in the library. That’s something I never had to think about in Durham!

Wild horses on Carrot Island, across from the Duke Marine Lab. (Photo by Jaren Lazarus, University Communications)

Students often tell us that every Duke library has its own “vibe.” If you had to sum up the Marine Lab Library vibe in three words, what would they be?

Congenial, inclusive, and casual. Emphasis on the casual. When I was a chemistry librarian, we had to wear closed-toed shoes in the labs. I’m still not comfortable running around the labs here in open-toed shoes, but I’m gradually wearing more sandals.

If there’s one more way I could describe what it’s like here, it would be student-focused. Everyone’s job at the Marine Lab is to support the students. It turns out that the vibe here is totally my vibe!

You’re basically a staff of one, so you have to do a bit of everything. Can you give us an idea of what that entails?

I do everything a regular subject librarian does: research, instruction, building the collection. But because I’m new here, I’m also doing a lot of outreach. A good bit of what you do as a new librarian is prove yourself to your faculty. They need to be confident in your skills before they give you any class time with their students, because that time is valuable. So I’m spending a lot of time getting to know my faculty and letting them know what I can do for them, for their research and classes.

I also personally shelve all the books. As a subject librarian, I hadn’t shelved books in years, so I had to refresh myself on our call number system!

Nobody at the Marine Lab does just one job. Because it’s such a small community, you have to participate in different ways. That’s what I like best about it. I get to be the librarian, but I do other stuff like volunteering my services for field trips on the research vessels. Some might consider those things peripheral to the library, but in fact it’s essential to making the library a part of the community here!

Captain Sly and Third Cat, two of the resident cats at the Duke Marine Lab, hang out by the dining hall at lunchtime. (Photo courtesy Jodi Psoter)

Last year the university announced the Duke Climate Commitment, uniting Duke’s education, research, operations and public service missions to focus on climate change solutions. What are some ways the work of the Marine Lab Library supports that initiative?

It’s always been our job as librarians to support new university initiatives. We’re always naturally supporting the Duke Climate Commitment, because that’s the research that our faculty and students are already working on. And it’s not just the Marine Lab Library. I work very closely with my colleagues in the Natural Sciences and Engineering Department of the Libraries, and their students and faculty are all working on issues related to climate change in some way.

That being said, there’s a noticeable shift in the way climate research at Duke is becoming more interdisciplinary. You have traditional sciences talking to different disciplines. I think that’s where the really interesting support for the Climate Commitment is going to come in. When we librarians can pool our interdisciplinary resources and share those with researchers, that’s when we’re going to have the biggest impact.

What’s one of the more memorable experiences you’ve had while living in Beaufort?

I got to the meet the grandson of Arthur Sperry Pearse, who founded the Duke Marine Lab. The library is even named for him! He came into the library one Friday afternoon with his wife and new baby. The baby hadn’t visited the Marine Lab yet. So we took pictures at all the Arthur Pearse memorials. Then they wanted to buy some souvenirs. So I’m running around looking for someone who can open the store for Arthur Pearse’s grandson, and we eventually found someone, so the baby was happy with its new Marine Lab t-shirt. That was a fun day!

Card catalog at the Duke Marine Lab’s Pearse Memorial Library, opened to a record by the library’s namesake, Arthur Sperry Pearse.

What’s coming next at the Marine Lab Library?

I’m doing an inventory and collection analysis, in order to figure out where the library’s collection needs to go in the future, and how it needs to be formatted. When you look at our collection over the last fifty years, you can see how research at the Marine Lab has changed. Back in the day, Beaufort was known for its fisheries and canning industry, which had a large impact on the local flora, fauna, and water. Today there’s only one fishery left. But at one point the library had tons of books and resources on fisheries. Now the research is moving toward coastal erosion, climate change, and policy. It’s interesting to see how the research done at the Marine Lab reflects changes in the local community, which is then reflected in the library collections we buy to support the research.

But the biggest news is that the Marine Lab Library turns fifty next year! Possibly, depending on how you look at it. The architectural plans say 1974, and 1976 is when the building was dedicated. But I turn fifty next year, too, and so does my friend Gilbert, the Campus Services Coordinator for Duke Dining and Residence Life here at the Marine Lab. He and I both want to have our party with the library, so we’re going with ’74! We’ll definitely have a second celebration in 2026.

Last question: Have you gone out on a Duke boat yet?

Yes! I actually ended up going out on a research vessel with some students to the Duke Aquafarm recently. It’s Duke’s other “campus farm,” where they grow oysters instead of produce. I made sure to wear the lifejacket Santa got me for Christmas, because fun fact—I don’t swim very well!

Jodi Psoter at the helm of the Kirby-Smith, a research vessel at the Duke Marine Lab, on a recent trip with students to the Duke Aquafarm.

More to the Story: New Marine Lab Library Internship Honors a Lifelong Passion

The Duke University Libraries are delighted to announce a new internship established in memory of a Duke alumna and longtime library supporter with a passion for marine science, Sue Reinhardt (1957-2022).

The Susan Baker Reinhardt Marine Lab Library Internship will provide Duke undergraduate or graduate students studying at the Marine Lab with hands-on experience in science librarianship, enabling them to explore the interdisciplinary nature of marine science while gaining real-world skills partnering with scientists and the local community.

According to Bill Reinhardt, who established the library internship in memory of his wife of forty-three years, the goal is to provide opportunities for Duke students that were not available (or denied) to Sue and other women in the sciences when she was pursuing her own education and career.

After studying at the Duke Marine Lab and the School of Ocean Sciences at Bangor University, Wales, Sue earned her bachelor’s degree from Duke in 1979, double-majoring in marine science and zoology. She later received a master’s in marine science from the University of South Florida in 1984. Her research was published in the journals Polar Biology and Marine Biology. She also co-authored a paper on lipid components of eleven species of Caribbean sharks, and five papers on the sources, distributions, and fates of pelagic tar in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

The first Susan Baker Reinhardt Marine Lab Library Intern will begin work next year.

Looking out towards the water from the Pearse Memorial Library at the Duke Marine Lab. (Photo courtesy Jodi Psoter)

7 Dictionaries That Are a Little Different

Detail, Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language, 1941.

If you’re reading this magazine, we suspect you possess a formidable vocabulary. (Forgive us for being so bold, but you have that look about you.) Whether you’re a whiz at Wordle, a grammar geek, or a student of the sesquipedalian style, you probably welcome the occasional excuse to reach for your favorite dictionary. As a library, we have thousands of dictionaries, in every language from Albanian to Zulu. But not all lexicons are alike. Here’s a selection of specialized dictionaries you should know about, when an ordinary word search just won’t do.

CONCEPTUAL DICTIONARY: Sometimes known as a reverse dictionary or descriptionary, a conceptual dictionary is good for when you know what something is, but not what it’s called. Somewhat like a thesaurus, entries are organized by concept—such as art or nature—rather than alphabetical order, with broad categories gradually narrowing down to more specific terms and expressions.

DICTIONARY OF CLICHÉS: Whether you employ clichés like they’re going out of style or avoid them like the plague, you can identify nearly 4,000 of them with this handy reference. A helpful tool for trimming flabby prose and making your writing crystal clear.

DICTIONARY OF SIMILES: When your search for the perfect analogy leaves you as empty-handed as a tree in winter, and the best comparisons you can think of are about as exciting as broccoli, a dictionary of similes can help. All you need is some inspiration to remind you that analogies are as abundant as salt in the sea, and without them the English language would be as bland as hominy grits.

DICTIONARY OF LAST WORDS: Looking for a good kicker for that last will and testament? Allow us to recommend a list of notable figures who met their final deadline in quotable style. As Groucho Marx aptly put it, “This is no way to live!” Truly a subject on which there’s always more to be said.

SLANG DICTIONARIES: Whenever you’re in the mubblefubbles (low spirits), do what we do. Get out of your nerd box (study cubicle) and peruse one of our dictionaries of slang. Soon you’ll be grinning like a long-tailed beggar (a cat) and feel like everything is lovely and the goose hangs high (everything’s great). Forget Urban Dictionary. Historical slang dictionaries aren’t online, and that’s where you find the best flub-dub-and-guff (rhetorical embellishments).

DICTIONARY OF ONE-LETTER WORDS: Of the twenty-six letters in our alphabet, one of the most versatile is X. It has more than seventy different definitions. X marks the spot on a pirate’s map. It’s an incorrect answer on a test, a power of magnification, a female chromosome, and a kiss at the end of a love letter. The dictionary of one-letter words reminds us that even the smallest words in the English language carry a large range of meanings.

DICTIONARY OF OLD TRADES, TITLES, AND OCCUPATIONS: What exactly is a buddle boy, and what does one do? When was the last time you saw a claque or a dobber on the job? And who even knows what a hokey pokey man or rogue spotter is? History is full of bygone vocations and specializations. When you need to know more about them, it’s this dictionary’s job to inform you.

The Duke Endowment Awards Additional $10 Million to Lilly Library Renovation Project

A rendering of the expansion of the library facing the residential “backyard” of East Campus, including a shaded terrace with outdoor seating.

Duke University has received a second $10 million award from The Duke Endowment for the renovation of its historic Lilly Library on East Campus. In 2020, The Duke Endowment gave an initial $10 million to support the renovation project.

The university will preserve the library’s historic Georgian style while updating the building’s interior and exterior and increasing its footprint by 78%—from 31,500 square feet to 56,300—resulting in more seating, collaborative study spaces, and technology-equipped project rooms.

Construction is expected to begin in 2024 with an anticipated completion date of 2027, just in time for the 100th anniversary of the library’s opening.

“We are grateful to The Duke Endowment for this transformational gift and their continued support for Lilly Library,” said Duke University President Vincent E. Price. “This is an exciting moment in Lilly’s nearly 100-year history, as we look forward to the many ways the renovation will enhance the East Campus experience and support our first-year students’ success.”

The renovation project will also update heating and cooling systems, lighting, technology, and furnishings to meet contemporary standards for safety and accessibility. The library’s well-loved reading rooms will retain their historic charm while their infrastructure is enhanced. New features will include an assembly space for events, a second entrance on the southwest side of the building that will connect with the residential “backyard” of East Campus, and a café space where students and faculty can meet over coffee.

Rendering of Lilly Library Commons
One of the most dramatic new features is the addition of a new entrance on the southwest side of the building, leading to a cafe where students and faculty can meet over coffee and snacks.

“While Lilly Library is beloved and popular with many of our users, it simply wasn’t designed to meet the needs of today’s students and researchers,” said Joseph Salem, the Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs. “We’re so pleased that The Duke Endowment is enabling us to bring to East Campus the kind of modern library spaces, services, and programs that have been so successful in Perkins, Bostock, and Rubenstein libraries on West Campus.”

Lilly Library opened in 1927 on East Campus as Duke University’s first library while West Campus was being constructed. It served as the Woman’s College Library for more than 40 years, but when the Woman’s College merged with Trinity College of Arts & Sciences in 1972, the library was renamed the East Campus Library.

In 1990, philanthropist Ruth Lilly, the last great-grandchild of pharmaceutical magnate Eli Lilly, made a gift to renovate the library—leading to the naming of the library in her honor.

“Lilly Library is a rich part of Duke’s history and has played a critical role in the evolution of Duke Libraries,” said Charles C. Lucas III, Chair of The Duke Endowment Board of Trustees. “Lilly is an important part of the student experience, especially on East Campus, and is vital to teaching, research and learning at Duke. The Duke Endowment is proud to continue supporting Duke University’s goals of restoring and enhancing Lilly Library for generations to come.”

Rendering of Booklover's Room
A rendering of the Booklover’s Room, a comfy spot for casual reading.

The Duke Endowment’s continued support of the university energizes the campus, said David Kennedy, vice president of alumni engagement and development.

“I couldn’t be more grateful for what is to come for everyone in the Duke community who will experience Lilly Library. The Duke Endowment has been an integral part of making that happen,” Kennedy said.

Based in Charlotte and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James. B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds, and enriching spirits. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $4.3 billion in grants. The Endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations.

Couldn’t Have Said It Better

We recently asked some of the newest members of our Library Advisory Board to express in their own words why the Duke University Libraries are personally important to them and worthy of support. Here’s what they said.

When I was in third grade, I made it my goal to read every book in my small town’s public library. However, after I finished binging my way through Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and The Bobbsey Twins, I ventured beyond the basement level children’s floor and was completely disheartened to discover additional floors with an unfathomable number of books—most of which were not about adolescent crime solvers. Despite that setback, I did not let the revelation that I would never be able to read all the books in a library get in the way of my love of libraries. As a student, my appreciation of libraries was focused on research materials and suitable study locations. As a Duke undergraduate, Perkins Library was an integral part of my life. I studied with friends in the Gothic Reading Room, often retreating to the stacks when real grinding was necessary.

It has been both an honor and a natural progression of my love of libraries to join the Duke Library Advisory Board. Just like my third-grade revelation, I have been awestruck by the complexity, enormity, and sheer quality and quantity of the resources of the Duke Libraries. Duke’s world-class libraries, including Perkins, Bostock, Rubenstein and the soon-to-be renovated Lilly Library, have over 8 million volumes in their collection, almost 3 million e-books, and hundreds of thousands of e-journals. That’s a real inspiration for all bibliophiles.

– Karen Christensen Shaffer T‘89

Over three generations, my family has logged countless hours in Duke’s libraries. While there are parts of the Libraries that are timeless, the experience for each generation differed from that of the generation before. Libraries need to be fluid and evolving, both in what they offer and in the surroundings that they provide. By supporting Duke Libraries both financially and with my input on the Library Advisory Board, I hope to help ensure the vibrancy of Duke’s libraries for future generations.

– Ellen von der Heyden Gillespie T’87

The Duke Libraries were always a special place on campus during my time at Duke. Far beyond just a place to find a book and do research, the Libraries are the heart and hub of Duke student campus life. Whether meeting friends for a study group or catching up over coffee at von der Heyden, the Libraries were that place where I spent so much of my time outside of class. So when trying to figure out how to get more involved in Duke, I loved the idea of being part of the Library Advisory Board. Learning how the faculty and staff work with the entire university to make this place grow and continue to be at the center of student life has been so interesting and rewarding, especially as I’ve seen the Lilly Library renovation process unfold. On top of that, the board is a very interesting and eclectic group of people who just love Duke—like myself!

– Katie Witten T’08

While working on my book on the racial history of Duke in the Sixties, I spent countless hours in the Duke University Archives. I saw that capturing the complex story I wanted to tell would have been impossible if not for the passion and commitment of University Archives staff over the decades. I joined the Library Advisory Board because the Libraries are at the center of Duke’s ongoing anti-racism work. The Libraries are deeply committed to this work, and I love the opportunity the LAB gives me to support those efforts.

– Theodore D. Segal T’77

Staff News

Library Leadership Team Transitions

The past year has a been a time of transition for the Duke University Libraries. Not only did we welcome a new University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs (see our conversation with Joseph A. Salem, Jr. in this issue), but his appointment coincided with several retirements and departures in the Libraries’ senior leadership team.

Blue Dean

In March, L. Blue Dean was appointed Associate University Librarian for Development following the retirement of Tom Hadzor, whose career at Duke spanned twenty-six years, including sixteen in the Libraries. A seasoned fundraiser with more than twenty years of experience in higher education and the nonprofit sector, including prior appointments at Duke, Dean serves as a member of the Libraries’ Executive Group and leads organizational efforts to sustain and expand philanthropic support for the Duke University Libraries.

Emily Daly

In May, Emily Daly was named Interim Associate University Librarian for Research and Public Services, following the departure of Dave Hansen, who was named the new executive director of the non-profit organization Authors Alliance. Daly has worked at the Duke University Libraries for sixteen years, most recently as Interim Head of Research and Instructional Services and Head of the Assessment and User Experience Department. In her interim role, she provides leadership and oversight for Access and Delivery Services, the East Campus Libraries, International and Area Studies, the Humanities and Social Sciences Department, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Department. A national search has been launched to find a permanent AUL for Research and Public Services.

Jameca Dupree

In July, Jameca Dupree was named Interim Associate University Librarian for Administrative Services with the retirement of Ann Wolfe, who had served in that role since 2002. (Wolfe will continue to work for the Libraries in a special part-time capacity as Project Manager for the Lilly Library Renovation and Expansion.) Dupree has worked at Duke for twenty-one years, including seventeen at the Duke University Libraries, where she most recently served as Director of Business Services. In her interim role, she oversees Business Services, Facilities and Distribution Services, and the Library Service Center. A national search for the permanent AUL for Administrative Services is currently under way.

The other members of the Libraries’ Executive Group include Dracine Hodges, Associate University Librarian for Technical Services; Timothy M. McGeary, Associate University Librarian for Digital Strategies and Technology; and Naomi Nelson, Associate University Librarian and Director of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Libraries Receive Grant for Data Curation Training

Every year, more funders and scholarly journals require scientific researchers to share and archive their data. To understand why this is so important, just look at the recent pandemic. The ability to quickly share reliable and reproducible data about COVID-19 resulted in the development of effective vaccines in record time.

But in order for it to be useful to anyone else, data not only needs to be shared but properly organized and managed. In other words, it needs to be curated.

This is an area where the Duke University Libraries have some expertise. Several years ago, we launched the Duke Research Data Repository, an open access online platform for Duke researchers to deposit and share datasets, so that they are preserved and accessible for the long-term. And our Center for Data and Visualization Sciences provides support and instruction throughout the year on all aspects of data-driven research to faculty and researchers across the university. We also partner with other information professionals through the Data Curation Network to advance open scholarship.

Now that expertise has been recognized with a federal grant to help other libraries provide similar support to researchers at their own institutions. The $132,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services will be used to further develop the Data Curation Network curriculum focusing on how to curate a wide range of research data, specifically for people who work in academic libraries and archives.

Sophia Lafferty-Hess, Senior Research Data Management Consultant, is the principal investigator. In her day job here in the Libraries, Sophia teaches and consults with researchers at Duke on how to organize, document, preserve, and publish their research data. For the grant, she will be working with colleagues at Washington University in St. Louis, Princeton, the University of Minnesota, University of California-Santa Barbara, and the Association of Research Libraries to develop in-depth training modules on data curation—covering the basics as well as advanced topics.

“This project will use a community-driven approach to generate new curation learning materials,” said Sophia. “By working together, we can build knowledge of practices and emerging trends and share that knowledge out with the broader community. It is really exciting to work with other passionate people to enhance our capacity to curate the diversity of data being shared at our institutions.”

The ultimate goal is to enhance the quality of scientific data curated by libraries across the country, so that they can be reused by the global community of scientists to verify results and foster new discoveries.

In Memoriam: Connie R. Dunlap, 1924 – 2022

This summer, we received word of the passing of a former colleague and leader of this institution. Connie Robson Dunlap served as Duke’s University Librarian from 1975 to 1981 and had the distinction of being the first woman to occupy that post. At the time of her appointment, she was only one of three women in the U.S. to direct major research library systems, so both she and Duke were trailblazers in this regard.

Connie Dunlap

Born in Lansing, Michigan, she attended the University of Michigan, where she studied geology and geography and later earned her master’s in library science. After graduating, she went to work for the University of Michigan Library, where she rose through the ranks and was eventually appointed Deputy Associate Director. She was named Duke’s University Librarian in 1975, succeeding Benjamin E. Powell.

During her time at Duke, Dunlap was instrumental in formalizing what would become the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN), a consortium of the library systems at Duke, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina Central University, and North Carolina State University, dedicated to resource sharing, technological innovation, and cooperative collection development. She was also responsible for a report that recommended a storage facility for collections, which anticipated the Library Service Center years before it became a reality. And she was a bit of a visionary. Dunlap predicted the role of computers and technology in research libraries fairly accurately to include “quick data” to supplement printed and published scholarship and the emergence of digital bibliographic tools and databases. After retirement, she was active in many organizations and was a long-time volunteer at the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation.

Dunlap died on April 23, 2022, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, at the age of 97. She was preceded in death by her husband of fifty years, Robert, who died in 1994.

Quiz: It Costs HOW Much?!

At its best, library research can feel like magic. With just a few keystrokes, you can find almost anything you’re looking for, no matter how obscure. Better still, you can often access it instantly, without having to set foot inside the actual library. The laptop is your library, without all those pesky stairs to climb or stacks to search.

But let us assure you, providing online access to millions of books, journals, and other media is anything but magic. And people are often surprised by how much it costs. So we thought it would be fun to test your knowledge of the business of knowledge, so to speak. Take our short quiz and see how much you know about the true cost of all that information at your fingertips—and learn more about what the Duke University Libraries are doing to keep it affordable.

Scroll down for answers.

1. Which costs more?

a. What Duke pays for one year of access to a package of online journals published by the academic publishing giant Elsevier.

b. Your own private hundred-acre island in the Bahamas.

2. Which costs less?

a. Duke’s annual subscription to Web of Science, a database that provides reference and citation data from academic journals, conference proceedings, and other documents in various academic disciplines.

b. A four-year undergraduate degree from Duke, paying full tuition.

Photo by Bill Snead, University Communications

3. Multiplication time! How much more expensive is it for Duke to subscribe to a scientific journal like Nature than it is for you to subscribe as an individual?

a. 10 times

b. 25 times

c. 75 times

4. How many times would a family of four have to go out to the movies to equal the cost of a subscription to Academic Video Online, a database of streaming films available through the Duke University Libraries?

a. 150

b. 500

c. 1,000

5. This textbook is required for one of the largest lecture classes at Duke and costs around $175 at the campus bookstore. Which would cost more?

a. Giving away a print copy of the textbook to every student who takes organic chemistry at Duke for the next ten years.

b. Purchasing the e-book version of the textbook and letting students access it through the library for one year.

1. a.

For just about $2 million, you can own a little slice of paradise in the Bahamas’ Exuma Cays—or, if you prefer, a big slice of a research library’s collections budget.

Elsevier is one of a handful of for-profit corporations that control most of the academic journal market. Like cable TV providers, these companies push libraries to purchase “Big Deal” bundles of journals, only a small percentage of which receive the majority of use.

Over the last two years, library staff across Duke have been working to renegotiate these “Big Deal” journal packages. We’ve been scrutinizing each journal title with an eye on usage, price, cost-per-use, relevance to Duke’s research profile, journal impact factor, volume of articles authored by Duke researchers, and more factors. All told, those efforts have saved Duke about $1 million annually. But the rising cost of academic journals, concentrated in the hands of a few profit-driven publishing giants, remains unsustainable.

2. b.

That’s right. A Duke education isn’t cheap, especially if you’re paying full freight. But you can still get one for less than what we pay annually for some scholarly databases. Ongoing subscriptions to electronic resources make up approximately two-thirds of our total library collections budget, a percentage that has been steadily rising over time. That means fewer dollars available to spend on print materials and other resources library users expect us to have.

3. c.

The skyrocketing price of academic journals is most noticeable in the sciences, where access to the latest information is crucial and certain high-profile journals carry enormous influence. For researchers in these disciplines, having an article accepted by a prestigious journal like Nature can lead to promotions, grant funding, and attention from the mainstream media. As a result, competition among scientists to publish in such high-impact journals is fierce. Also as a result, journals like Nature command the highest institutional subscription fees.

The Duke University Libraries have long been strong proponents of open access publishing. Through a variety of funding and publishing models, Duke researchers can increasingly make their publications, data, and other research outputs freely available to anyone to read and use, without a paywall, resulting in increased reach and impact for Duke research, and benefits to the world at large. Free and unfettered access to academic research is critical to a healthy and open society. To learn more about specific ways we’re working to increase open access to Duke research and promote a more equitable scholarly publishing ecosystem, visit

4. c.

Everyone loves the convenience of streaming video—including us! Streaming videos take up zero shelf space, can be “checked out” and viewed by many people at once, and check themselves back in with no reshelving or handling required.

But providing broad-based access to streaming video is costly. It’s not as simple as signing up for a Netflix or Hulu account and sharing it with everyone at Duke. Instead, libraries work with specialized vendors who license film content or provide subscriptions. In some cases, we’re able to license films directly ourselves. Contrary to what you might think, educational and documentary films are usually more expensive to purchase or license than commercial blockbusters.

As of this writing, there are over 100,000 streaming video titles available to Duke users through the Libraries—far more than you can find on any popular commercial streaming service.

5. Trick question!

Although many print textbooks are available as e-books (including this one), textbook publishers often won’t sell them to libraries—or else strictly limit how many people can use them at one time. We can’t buy the e-book version of this required course material and make it easily available to all Duke students enrolled in the course at any price. It’s just another example of how the academic publishing market doesn’t align with the mission of higher education or the interests of students.

To reduce the burden of textbook costs for our student population, the Duke University Libraries have for a number of years purchased print copies of the textbooks for the 100 largest courses on campus and let students check them out for a few hours at a time. We also encourage students to donate their textbooks to the Libraries at the end of the year, so that future students can check them out for free.

When asked about library services that are important to them, 39 percent of Duke undergraduates list our “Top Textbooks” program as important, which means it ranks just below core services like printing, reservable rooms, and in-person assistance at a service desk. It’s just one small way we’re working to make a Duke education more affordable for all.

Thanks to the University of Virginia Library for the inspiration behind this quiz.

The Librarian Is In: A Conversation with Joseph Salem, Duke’s New University Librarian

Photos by Janelle Hutchinson, Duke University Libraries

Joseph A. Salem, Jr., joined Duke University on August 15 as the new Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs.

A nationally recognized university librarian and information literacy expert, Salem comes to Duke from Michigan State University, where he has served as Dean of Libraries since 2018. Following the recent announcement of his appointment, Salem sat down with us to discuss his background, coming to Duke, his initial priorities as University Librarian, and his thoughts on librarianship and leadership.

Welcome to Duke! Tell us a little about what drew you to this role. 

About five years ago, I was fortunate to spend a week at Duke as a member of the Association of Research Libraries Leadership Fellows Program. We visited three different universities in the U.S. and Canada as part of that program. I kind of fell in love with the campus and the libraries while I was here. It was the only university we visited where I kept thinking, “I would love to work here one day.” There are some universities where the libraries have to work hard to make a case for themselves. That’s not the situation at Duke. The libraries here are obviously held in high regard by the students, faculty, administration, and alumni. There’s a shared sense of their value as an asset and a point of pride for the institution. That obviously makes the University Librarian’s job easier. But it also tells you an awful lot about the overall values of the university community. So that was a big attraction. I’ve never worked at a private institution, and I didn’t take the transition lightly. If I were going to do it, I wanted it to be somewhere where the community felt as strongly about the value of libraries as I do.

Salem chats with library staff members at a welcome reception on his first day at Duke.

During the search process, you spoke with a number of library stakeholders and learned more about initiatives currently underway here, such as the Lilly Library renovation, our anti-racism roadmap, efforts to support Duke’s expanding science and technology programs, and so on. Can you talk about what you’ve learned so far and how that has shaped your sense of your first priorities as University Librarian?  

The Lilly Library renovation is obviously a significant priority for the next several years. Being part of such a large project that will benefit students and the entire campus is exciting for all of us. Another priority is to start asking ourselves what comes after Lilly. Over the last seventeen years under Deborah Jakubs’ leadership, the Duke Libraries have been focused on significant renovations and facilities projects, all highly successful. That’s not to say we won’t care about or still have those kinds of needs in the future. But there will necessarily be a kind of shift in our funding priorities, especially as Duke enters its next capital campaign. We need to engage new and diverse groups of library supporters and get as many people involved as possible in stewarding our future.

Another thing I would point out is the strategic growth of unique collections in the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Those collections are growing into significant points of pride for the university. What should our direction be going forward, in terms of what we acquire? And what is our digitization program for those collections? We already have a strong reputation for excellence and innovation in digitizing rare and unique collections, and for prioritizing open access and open content. Such incredible collections, combined with incredible technical expertise, are an exciting combination. Seeing where they take us next is a high priority for us.

“We need to engage new and diverse groups of library supporters and get as many people involved as possible in stewarding our future.”

What are some of the big opportunities you see ahead for the Duke University Libraries? 

I’m a big proponent of partnership. And at Duke, the Libraries are known as good partners. Looking at President Price’s strategic priorities, there are a lot of opportunities for us to get even more involved in efforts aimed at building campus community. For instance, I was impressed with the recent library exhibit on Duke’s Latinx community. That’s a great example of bringing our collections and expertise forward to let Duke students and community partners tell their own story, so that they find themselves represented in our collections and spaces. It’s a way to advance a broad university initiative, but in a way that highlights what’s unique about us and our role as the Libraries. There are other partnerships and opportunities I’m excited about as well, such as getting more involved in the arts initiative being led by the Provost’s Office, supporting efforts to build better learning and living communities, and developing an even stronger working relationship with Duke University Press.

Salem and Dracine Hodges, Associate University Librarian for Technical Services, who served as Interim University Librarian over the summer.

At Michigan State, you led several efforts to build a more diverse and inclusive library environment. What worked well, and what lessons have you taken from those efforts? 

One lesson I’ve learned is that it takes efforts on both a large and a small scale. On the large end, for example, is a project we had at Michigan State to make our main library building more accessible. There was one accessible entrance on the south side of the building. But that’s not the entrance most students use. The flow of traffic is through the north entrance, near the bus stop. If you have mobility issues, you have to go all the way around to the back of the library to get in. And it’s Michigan, so there’s snow on the ground for a good part of the year. We had been trying for years to get the university to build a ramp to our north entrance, but we kept getting nowhere. What that plaza in front of the library needed was a more general overhaul. So we built a coalition that included the Libraries and the MSU facilities office, as well as the botanical gardens and the museum, which also border on that plaza. We got some funding to do a feasibility study to turn that area into an outdoor learning space, including a ramp to the library. And in the next capital campaign, that will be a fundraising priority for four different campus units, which makes it very accomplishable. What worked well in that case was figuring out who your partners are and building a coalition to get things done.

On the smaller end of the spectrum, even seemingly little things like being attuned to other people’s perspectives can make a difference. For example, at Michigan State, we had the Cesar Chavez collection, and we wanted to create a study space around it for Latinx students. But when you looked at the space, there was a painting of Chavez on the wall, and right next to it were all these photos of past library directors—all of whom, for the most part, looked like me. It just felt so different from what we wanted for that space. So we removed those photos. It’s not that we were ashamed of our past. It’s just that those photos could be presented elsewhere or differently. As a result, the space felt more welcoming to our Latinx students, and it cost nothing.

Salem in his office with (left to right) Jocelyn Castro, Library Administration Staff Assistant; Emily Daly, Interim Associate University Librarian for Research and Public Services; and Naomi Nelson, Associate University Librarian and Director of the Rubenstein Library.

Building strong relationships with student and faculty partners has been a big focus of your own career in libraries. What’s your approach to building partnerships across campus, and why is it so important? 

It’s important because partnerships are what the university was designed for. That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about Duke. It feels like a partnering environment. In a partnership, you have to be willing to make decisions together. Stakeholders advise each other. But when you invite people in as a true partner, you have to let them play a part in deciding on direction. That’s not comfortable for everyone. Some people don’t want to give up control of their idea or initiative.

The partnering approach lets us maximize what resources we have. But it also helps us maximize expertise. We have faculty experts all around us who understand the legal, disciplinary, and economic landscape we work in, just by nature of the work they do. It’s a lot easier to leverage their expertise than to hire someone or go out and find a consultant.

Another by-product of bringing people in as your partner is that you end up with a wider network of people who understand what you’re doing as a library. Likewise, when you partner on their initiatives, they see the unique value of the library and the expertise we bring to bear. So there’s nothing but wins across the board when you can work that way.

“I’m a very future-oriented person,” says Salem, “and I find that libraries are a wonderful way of building something for the future.”

What about the people who work here? How do you build a workplace culture that encourages collaboration and makes people feel valued?

A number of years ago, a colleague of mine used a baseball analogy to ask this same question. He essentially asked if I was a player-friendly manager, and I think that is a good way to sum to describe my approach. I can’t imagine there being any other approach to this job than being down on the field with everyone else, working as a team. The role I’m in is one of creating general direction and resourcing us in such a way that we’re able to do our work and advance our careers in the best way possible. I hope that as we all work together, our library colleagues find me to be collaborative and focused on their success and well-being as people. I find the best way to get work done is for it to be work you find valuable and fulfilling, and I want that for everyone who works here.

You also have to establish a level of trust and be transparent about making decisions. With big organizations like ours, it’s a systems approach. You can make a well-intentioned decision about something happening over here, and it has an unexpected ripple effect way over there. So then you go back to those decisions and address any unintended consequences. We have to create a level of trust where we can do that.

“I’m a big proponent of partnership. And at Duke, the Libraries are known as good partners.”

Can you back up and tell us what led you to pursue a career in libraries in the first place? How would you describe the challenges and rewards of doing what we do? 

I’ve always loved libraries. I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland called Maple Heights, and we had a large and beautiful public library. When I was young, my mother got a job in that library. So we spent a lot of time there, and libraries were an interest of mine early on.

But my original plan was not to go into librarianship. When I was in grad school at Kent State, I had a job in the library. But I was planning to pursue a Ph.D. in cultural theory, and I had started working toward that by earning a master’s in English. Then I became involved in a couple of national grant projects related to information literacy, and I was really enjoying the work. I realized that even though I still wanted to earn a Ph.D., I didn’t want to leave the library profession. So I changed my focus to evaluation and measurement, which tied in with the information literacy work I was passionate about.

I’m a very future-oriented person, and I find that libraries are a wonderful way of building something for the future. Obviously we play an important role in preserving the past. But the question is always to what end? In academic libraries, we do it for the benefit of future generations. We’re contributing to education, which by definition is focused on the future.

The challenges of our work are many of the same challenges that other industries and professions are dealing with. Workforce issues, stability issues, supply chain issues. Our values are also being challenged an awful lot, not so much in academic libraries but in public ones. Any challenge to our profession is a challenge to all of us. When you see books being banned, calls for defunding public libraries, legislatures getting involved in what’s appropriate for libraries to collect and what’s not, those are anathema to us as a profession and we all have cause to resist and push back. Even if we’re not personally involved, even if our library is well supported by our community, we have reason to support those who are under attack.

“Partnerships are what the university was designed for. That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about Duke. It feels like a partnering environment.”

Great libraries are one of the defining features of great universities. But we would be merely good without the generosity of many individuals who believe in our mission and want to support us. What are your thoughts on the importance of philanthropy to our work?

There are so many good things out there people can support with their philanthropic dollars. When they choose to support us, that’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly. Alumni and donors who give to the Duke Libraries usually do so either because they had a great experience at this university, or because they find that the work we’re doing aligns with their own personal values. That support is essential, and not just from a budgetary standpoint. Our alumni and donors have so much more to offer than just their financial support. There’s a high level of professional expertise among people who give to us—expertise in the digital domain, intellectual property law, publishing, and related areas that are important to a modern research library. There’s a lot of mutual benefit to figuring out how to leverage that expertise and what we can learn from them. All of that is to say, there are a lot of different ways to engage with and support the Libraries.

Obviously this library system has benefited tremendously from the generosity of many people who support our work. The upcoming renovation and expansion of Lilly Library is just the latest example of that. A project like that doesn’t happen without the sustained support of our alumni and friends, and it’s absolutely vital to our continued success. It has gotten us where we are now, and it has built the libraries that made me want to come here.