Stokes librarian search underway
By biconews On 29 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Ariel Hansen

Since former science Librarian Wendy Wasman left last year to spend time with her new baby, Haverford College has been looking for someone to permanently fill the Stokes Hall position.

After conducting an unsuccessful search last spring, the college opened up for applications again this fall, advertising in journals and on computer listserves. After receiving approximately 24 applications. [sic] A committee of students, faculty, and administrative staff has narrowed the pool of candidates down to four, two of whom visited Haverford last week and two who will be visiting this week.

Committee members include Associate Professor of Biology Karl Johnson, Associate Professor of Chemistry Frances Blase, seniors Jesse Ehrenfeld and Anna Farago, Librarian of the College Robert Kieft, and Music Librarian and Acting Head of Public Services Donna Fournier.

The committee is looking mainly for solid library and personal skills, with a background in science preferred, but, “If you’re a good librarian, you can compensate for a lack of subject expertise. The bottom-line criteria - you have to be a jack-of-all-trades.” said Mary Lynn Morris, Acting Science Librarian.

Morris also emphasized that the new science librarian will be a crucial part of Haverford’s development in the sciences in the coming years, because of the increasing importance of resources both physical and on the internet. “E-journals are changing how we spend our money,” said Morris, “and we must make sure the new science librarian is thinking in the right direction.”

The proliferation of scientific journals online also contributes to a decrease in the number of candidates applying for the job of science librarian at educational institutions, since corporations, hospitals and online scientific journals all pay higher salaries than colleges and universities.

“Competition is very keen,” said Kieft, “because people with scientific backgrounds often choose to do work elsewhere.” He compared the two dozen applications received recently with the 75 to 100 applications the same position would have drawn in the early 1990s.

These other job opportunities might have a positive effect on the application process, however, since those who do apply show particular interest in working at an academic institution. “Academic freedom is refreshing,” said Pat Dawson, one of the candidates for the position. “You don’t have to worry about the corporate mentality of what you say to whom.” Dawson, who recently worked for pharmaceutical giant Merck, chose to leave that job for one at half the pay at Burlington Community College in New Jersey.

Dawson visited Haverford last Thursday, and noted that the College’s application process is “a wonderful way for students and faculty to get a sense of the candidate. It is also important for the candidate to get a good sense of them.” The other candidates the committee is considering are Julie Miran, currently in Circulation at Swarthmore College, Tern Freedman, a science librarian at Bryn Mawr, and Leslie Pope, who works at the Wistar Institute, a National Cancer Institute Cancer Center. Students will have an opportunity to meet these last two candidates at open lunches in the Bryn Mawr room of the Dining Center on Tuesday and Thursday at 11:30 a.m.

Despite a poor turnout last Thursday, Ehrenfeld said that he is not worried about student input in the process, as he and Farago represent different scientific fields, in addition to the expertise of the library staff who are assisting in the selection.

“The selection process is like courting,” said Kieft. “The most important thing we do is hire people, because the staff will determine the quality of the library and the services we offer. It would be hard to sell a college [to students] on personal factors and then turn around and not spend a lot of time hiring.”

Though there is no firm time-table for the decision-making process. Morris anticipated that an offer might be made by the week of spring break.

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