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

Architecture and Art Library closed 8:30-10:30 on Friday, June 13th

The library will be closed so that staff members can attend college-wide training.


Posted on June 12th, 2014 by Catherine Essinger and filed under Announcements | Comments Off on Architecture and Art Library closed 8:30-10:30 on Friday, June 13th

Evolution of LGBTQI Literature on Display at UH Libraries

A new exhibit at the University of Houston Libraries underscores the evolving themes of LGBTQI literature from the late nineteenth century to present day.

LGBTQI Literature: Celebrated Classics and Contemporary Works features works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama from UH Libraries Special Collections that were written by, and are focused on, people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex.

Exhibit selections are drawn from the Norma J. Lee Collection, the Edward Lukasek Gay Studies Collection, and the Library of Cynthia Macdonald.

VIDEO: Interview with Edward Lukasek on exhibit highlights.

“The books in this exhibit changed society and touched people’s lives,” said Julie Grob, coordinator of digital projects and instruction, and curator of the exhibit. “Many of them were groundbreaking, considered so shocking when first published that their authors or publishers were put on trial. Others played a role in expanding the new political and sexual freedoms of the seventies, and many express the diverse experiences of sexual preference, gender, race, ethnicity, and gender expression in contemporary society.”

Classic titles from the pre-Stonewall era include a second edition of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall, and Orlando by Virginia Woolf. The 1970s gay liberation and women’s liberation movements are represented by works such as Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran and Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown. Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, and the poetry of Mark Doty and Thom Gunn, depict the AIDS crisis. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel represent modern voices in LGBTQI literature.

The exhibit runs from June 20 (to coincide with Houston Pride Week) through September 26, 2014 in the MD Anderson Library. For more information, contact Julie Grob, curator, at 713.743.9744.

Posted on June 12th, 2014 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements | Comments Off on Evolution of LGBTQI Literature on Display at UH Libraries

UH Special Collections Archivists Selected for SSA Leadership Roles

Two archivists with the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections were appointed to leadership positions at the Society of Southwest Archivists (SSA) recent Annual Meeting.

Two archivists with the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections were appointed to leadership positions at the Society of Southwest Archivists (SSA) recent Annual Meeting.

University archivist Mary Manning was chosen as SSA president-elect for a three-year term. She currently serves as vice president and chair of the Annual Meeting Program Committee.

Hispanic Collections archivist Lisa Cruces was appointed as editor of the quarterly newsletter, The Southwestern Archivist. Cruces will also be chairing the Publications Committee, and collaborating with liaisons and archivists throughout the southwest to raise awareness of diversity initiatives, ongoing projects and archival collections.

SSA is a professional organization serving 530 archivists, special collections librarians, preservationists, conservators, and records managers in the member states of Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas.

“The organization has grown significantly in the past few years,” Manning said. “One of our major goals over the next few years is working to better serve underrepresented archivists and affiliated professionals.”

Posted on June 2nd, 2014 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements | Comments Off on UH Special Collections Archivists Selected for SSA Leadership Roles

In Memoriam: Rosemary Summers McBride

Rosemary Summers McBride

Rosemary Summers McBride, a 1942 University of Houston alumna and supporter of UH Libraries Special Collections, passed away in April.

Her appreciation for her alma mater involved continuing interest and participation in university programs. In 2001, she created The Rosemary Summers McBride Endowment, to which she contributed generously.

Head of Special Collections Pat Bozeman says, “Rosemary McBride not only was monetarily generous to Special Collections, but she took exceptional interest in its goals and programs, befriending a number of the staff over the years. I considered her a close friend and miss her very much. Her indomitable spirit will always be with me.”

Posted on May 29th, 2014 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements | Comments Off on In Memoriam: Rosemary Summers McBride

Innovation at UH Libraries: Microgrant Program

UH librarians and library staff are encouraged to submit ideas to the Microgrant Program.

University of Houston librarians and library staff have a unique opportunity to make a big impact.

The UH Libraries Microgrant Program, open to all UH library staff and librarians, is designed to foster the creation of new and innovative ideas in support of the Libraries’ Strategic Directions and the University’s Tier One Initiatives.

Librarians and staff are encouraged to submit fresh, experimental ideas for new services, methods, initiatives and technology. The Microgrant Committee has streamlined the submissions process, and detailed resources for applicants, including an FAQ and how-to guide, are available on the Libraries Intranet.

Librarians and staff who are awarded microgrants have a direct, positive influence on the Libraries’ mission of providing a high-quality library experience for each user, and also realize a substantial benefit to professional growth.

Why UH Librarians and Library Staff Should Apply

Thought leadership: Share your ideas on a broad scale. Funded projects can generate valuable data and insights, with the potential for presentations and publications that advance careers and the profession.

Unleash your creative side: Your vision moves the UH Libraries forward by translating inspired concepts into tangible successes.

Collaboration: Learn from your colleagues. Projects funded by the Microgrant Program cultivate inter-departmental engagement and promote knowledge-sharing.

The Microgrant Committee invites UH librarians and library staff to an Open Forum on Wednesday, June 4 at 11:00am in Room 10-F. Meet the committee members and find out more about how you can participate, and bring your questions and comments about the application and process.

Posted on May 29th, 2014 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements | Comments Off on Innovation at UH Libraries: Microgrant Program

New Library Discovery Interface Improves Search for UH Students, Faculty

The new OneSearch provides an optimized search experience for UH students and researchers.

Students and researchers at the University of Houston will soon have an enhanced online discovery experience.

UH Libraries is implementing a new and improved OneSearch, making it easier for users to find what they are looking for.

The new OneSearch, accessible from the Libraries’ home page, provides targeted results from a wide variety of sources, including databases, the Libraries’ catalog and the UH Digital Library. The improved OneSearch goes live on June 2.

OneSearch users will benefit from the following enhancements:

  • Greater relevancy of results
  • Easy filtering for full text only
  • Clean and simple user interface
  • The Recommender Service offers additional full text results related to your search
  • Save Your Citations feature
  • Export results to RefWorks

The Libraries’ OneSearch Implementation Team and the Resource Discovery Systems department will gather user feedback over the course of the summer to further enhance the discovery interface. Users who are interested in sharing feedback, taking part in focus groups or participating in usability testing may contact discovery systems librarian Kelsey Brett to be included.

Posted on May 28th, 2014 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements | Comments Off on New Library Discovery Interface Improves Search for UH Students, Faculty

UH Libraries Wins ‘Best of Show’ Award

The UH Libraries was selected as a winner of the Best of Show Awards Competition at PR XChange.

The University of Houston Libraries was chosen as a winner of the Best of Show Awards Competition at PR Xchange, for its video titled University of Houston Libraries.

The Best of Show Awards Competition is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) Library Leadership Administration and Management Association – Public Relations and Marketing Section, and is overseen by the PR XChange Committee.

The annual Best of Show Awards Competition at PR Xchange recognizes top public relations materials produced by libraries. Winners are selected for content, originality and design by a team of public relations, graphic design, communications and marketing professionals.

The UH Libraries winning entry in the Advocacy – Electronic cateogory was created as a strategic centerpiece for the redesigned Libraries employment web page. The video includes dean Dana Rooks and librarians discussing the Libraries’ high-performing organizational culture, and showcases its services and features designed to support the academic and research needs of UH students, faculty and staff and the scholarly community.

The video was produced as a collaborative effort by librarians and staff, and was coordinated by the Libraries Office of Communications.

The UH Libraries will be recognized at the Best of Show Ceremony at the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas next month.

Posted on May 27th, 2014 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements | Comments Off on UH Libraries Wins ‘Best of Show’ Award

UH Libraries’ Dean Rooks Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Dana Rooks, Dean of Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell Chair, was presented with the Texas Library Association Lifetime Achievement Award at the 101st TLA Annual Conference.

Dana Rooks, dean of Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell chair, was presented with the Texas Library Association Lifetime Achievement Award at the 101st TLA Annual Conference last month.

The award recognized Dean Rooks’ distinguished career, noted for her excellence in librarianship and outstanding contributions to the profession. She is known amongst her colleagues as a committed leader and mentor.

Her career began in 1970 at the University of Oklahoma Libraries. After four years, she moved to the University of Missouri – St. Louis Libraries. Rooks then joined the University of Houston in 1980 as the Business and Economics Librarian. She was named Dean in 1997.

Dean Rooks has held several national leadership roles, including serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). She is an active member of the American Library Association (ALA), having served on the Board of Directors of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL).  She also served on the Board of Directors of the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA), and as Vice-Chair of the Board of AMIGOS Library Services.

Dean Rooks founded and served as president of the Texas Council of Academic Libraries, and is one of the founders of TexShare, providing leadership in the creation and development of the innovative model for statewide library resource sharing. She has served as president of the Texas Library Association, and currently serves as Chair of the Texas Digital Library Governing Board Executive Committee.

Dean Rooks is the recipient of the 2009 TLA Distinguished Service Award and the 1997 Librarian of the Year Award. She is a prolific author and expert in the areas of administration and organizational development, the application of library technology, and library fundraising.

Her achievements in fundraising have had an impact on the academic careers of countless students and scholars. She completed a $20 million campaign for a Library building addition, secured significant support for collection endowments, three endowed chairs, and numerous endowments for program support, including staff recognition and library excellence

Posted on May 14th, 2014 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements | Comments Off on UH Libraries’ Dean Rooks Receives Lifetime Achievement Award