Leaders in the Libraries: Rachel Vacek


Rachel Vacek has begun her term as president of LITA.

Rachel Vacek, head of Web Services at University of Houston Libraries, recently began a new term as president of the Library Information Technology Association (LITA), part of a three-year commitment as vice-president, president, and past president.

LITA is one of 11 divisions of the American Library Association (ALA), with approximately 3,000 members representing academic, public, school and special libraries, as well as vendors and information professionals interested in library technologies.

Below, Vacek shares her plans as LITA president for the term July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, and her thoughts on librarian leadership.

What are your responsibilities as LITA president?

The LITA president is the chief spokesperson for the association and works closely with both LITA’s executive director and the board of directors in identifying and promoting information technology issues that are of interest to the association in all kinds of libraries, both nationally and internationally.

The president leads the board and executive committee meetings, and works closely with the 20-plus committees that serve the association, such as membership development, education, web coordinating, program planning, publishing, and financial advisory, to name a few.

The president also coordinates with the appointed representatives to groups and associations outside LITA, keeps the board informed, and is a proponent for advocacy of library technology issues. The president, in conjunction with the board, also determines the strategic direction for the association and is able to create task forces as needed to put initiatives in motion.

What are your goals for your presidential year?

Accomplishing impactful goals within a one-year period can be a daunting task. It becomes essential to coordinate efforts with the president-elect and past president to keep the forward momentum going. I am focusing on member experience and financial stability.

As someone who has worked in the systems and web librarianship field for years, the concept of user experience has always had special meaning for me. The ability to look at a person’s behaviors, attitudes, and emotions about being a member of LITA is especially important when examining and improving member experience.

When answering the question, “Why join LITA?” I have to evaluate the hard benefits like educational and conference discounts or being able to participate in leadership roles, as well as the softer benefits like opportunities to expand one’s network. I believe that people join LITA because they want to learn something new, help their colleagues, grow their network, and advocate for librarians working with technology.

I will work with many of LITA’s committees, primarily Membership, Education, and Publications, to:

  • Involve enthusiastic, active members who have embraced LITA’s mission and values in making new members feel welcome.
  • Recognize more frequently the outstanding contributions of LITA members.
  • Emphasize that a major benefit of joining LITA is about expanding one’s network and circle of influence, and having fun in the process!
  • Consider the goals of current and potential members. I think the best way to engage LITA members is to help them participate in meaningful and relevant activities that will further their goals and those of the profession.
  • Offer more virtual events and mentoring opportunities that help potential or new members learn more about LITA and establish connections and lifelong friendships. Being able to make these connections virtually is essential, since conference travel can sometimes be financially challenging.

The other goal I mentioned was financial stability. The LITA Financial Strategies Task Force presented a report to the board last year that is packed with timely, practical, and creative solutions for helping to address crucial challenges that all ALA divisions are facing. LITA also recently established a Financial Advisory Committee, and I believe that their work, in conjunction with the efforts of other LITA committees, are crucial to ensuring that LITA remains viable and relevant for years to come.

What are LITA’s goals?

In accordance with ALA’s goals of information policy, professional development, and advocacy, LITA’s four broad goals are:

  • To foster collaboration and networking among LITA members.
  • To offer education, publications, and events that inspire and enable members to improve technology integration within their libraries.
  • To advocate for meaningful legislation, policies, and standards that positively impact the current and future capabilities of libraries that promote equitable access to information and technology.
  • To improve LITA’s infrastructure in order to serve, educate, and create community for its members.

How will your role as LITA president benefit the UH Libraries and campus?

National recognition is one of the University’s priorities, and one of the Libraries’ strategic directions. Being the president of a national association is both a huge responsibility and an incredibly rewarding experience. With that comes an increase in press, interviews, and open doors, all of which are opportunities to highlight the UH Libraries and UH as outstanding organizations doing amazing things.

Also, because I have established an incredible network both within LITA and now with the leaders of the other divisions, I am able to help my colleagues make connections with others in the profession. I’ve become quite familiar with ALA’s structure and look forward to offering advice on getting involved, connecting colleagues with relevant skills and interests to appropriate groups, and being a sounding board for ideas.

What have you learned about yourself through this experience?

I’ve grown a tremendous amount in just the past year since becoming LITA’s vice-president. I realized that my previous experiences in chairing the UH Libraries’ Strategic Directions Steering Committee, being Chair of the Librarians, and leading numerous other committees, coupled with being a department head, have all prepared me for this endeavor. The experience of leading a board of directors, strategic and budgetary planning, collaborating with other divisions, and driving the organization’s vision is also preparing me for the next stage in my library career.

Posted on July 29th, 2014 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements | Comments Off on Leaders in the Libraries: Rachel Vacek

UH Libraries Welcomes New Music Library Coordinator

Stephanie Lewin-Lane is the new coordinator of the UH Music Library and liaison to Theatre and Dance.

As one of the University of Houston’s hidden gems, the Music Library serves students and faculty of the Moores School of Music. A new coordinator of the Music Library recently joined the team to lead programs, services, and collections in support of performing arts curricula and research, and to serve as liaison to Theatre and Dance.

Stephanie Lewin-Lane brings substantial experience in the performing arts to the role, and an enthusiasm for music that she seeks to impart to students.

“Music has always been a major part of my life,” the vocalist said. As a music scholar and performer, Lewin-Lane has an advanced repertoire of knowledge that spans renaissance to rockabilly. Her extensive performance résumé includes opera, jazz, and improvisational theater. She directed a madrigal group with the Bristol Renaissance Faire for 12 years and has formed several other performing groups. She also taught voice lessons, and was part of a rockabilly and hot jazz band in her hometown of Milwaukee, WI. She is as familiar with baroque music as she is with contemporary Hip-Hop.

Immersed in the world of performance, Lewin-Lane decided to augment her knowledge of performing arts by going back to school. She earned a Master of Library and Information Studies and a Master of Music in History and Literature.

Lewin-Lane’s research interests focus on ethnomusicology, specifically, women in rockabilly, American pop music of the 1920s to 1950s, Tin Pan Alley, the music of Shakespeare’s play, and music copyright and intellectual property. Her master’s thesis explored the influence of two performers, LaVern Baker, an R&B singer of the 50s and 60s, and Janis Martin, nicknamed the Female Elvis.

Lewin-Lane sees connections between pop and classical music, which she views as a “great gateway to help students feel comfortable with the idea of studying music in a scholarly way.” Finding those parallels between the two genres makes it more accessible.

Lewin-Lane recently taught a class on conducting research with theater resources. She looks forward to leading more workshops on information literacy specific to the performing arts, exploring topics such as avoiding plagiarism and writing a bibliography.

Her door is always open for students with questions. “What’s most exciting about being a librarian is working with people and helping them,” she said. She believes that students who build support structures by finding librarians and advisors who can mentor them will have the most successful academic careers.

She devotes time to being involved in the music and performing arts community, and wants to share that enthusiasm and appreciation with students. “The great thing about music is that it transcends so many things,” she said.

The Music Library is home to an excellent voice and opera collection. Students have access to a substantial score selection, CDs, DVDs, books and streaming music. Find more music resources online, and visit Stephanie Lewin-Lane at the Music Library on the second floor of the Moores School of Music building. Summer hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00am – 5:00pm.

Posted on July 28th, 2014 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements | Comments Off on UH Libraries Welcomes New Music Library Coordinator