Rachel Vacek, head of UH Libraries Web Services, has been selected as a 2014 Library Journal Mover and Shaker. Each year, Library Journal honors forward-thinking library professionals who are actively shaping the future of libraries. Vacek was recognized as an Innovator whose focus on applying novel approaches to web-based tools and services for the UH community reflects a transformation in the academic research library space.
Vacek’s team leads an integrative web presence that optimizes the ways in which users access and discover knowledge. “My job is to help make our library’s web site easier to use,” Vacek said. “The web site is the virtual front door to the library, and it’s important that it’s welcoming and inviting.”
Vacek, who is the vice president/president-elect of the Library Information Technology Association (LITA), envisions the UH Libraries as a reimagined space that not only facilitates the ways in which students, faculty, staff and the public find information, but also one that cultivates creating and sharing knowledge.
Much of Vacek’s work in Web Services is behind-the-scenes, but as a self-described extrovert, she enjoys planning events and programs that bring students to UH Libraries. Through the Libraries’ microgrant program, Vacek has spearheaded a number of interactive events that allow users to explore the Libraries’ programs and services in unconventional ways, fostering collaboration and engaging new users. “I like doing events because it allows me to interact with our users to get a better sense of how they’re using the library,” Vacek noted. Past successful initiatives include the Cougar Social Media Showcase, the Mobile Walking Tour, and Game On, Cougars!
Vacek’s focus on the connections between technology and collaboration will continue to enhance the user’s experience for learning and research. “The ‘library of the future’ will definitely have more services online, but also more opportunities to interact with people,” Vacek said. “I see libraries as social places where web services can really add value and enrich the user experience. I’m excited to be a part of that.”