Interview with Paul Willis, November 21, 2016

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:01 - Path to librarianship and career overview

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Partial Transcript: This is a conversation with Paul Willis, Director of Libraries at the University of Kentucky from 1973 to 2002, and the Dean of Libraries at the University of South Carolina from 2002 to 2007.

Segment Synopsis: Paul Willis is introduced. He talks about how he became interested in the field of librarianship. He gives a brief overview of his career, from his education at the University of Kentucky, to his work with the Library of Congress and NASA, and his later career at UK and the University of South Carolina. He talks about how he became interested in law librarianship.

Keywords: Branch chief of the cataloging department; College education; Interests; Interim directors; Law degree; Law librarians; Law school; Library assistants; Library degree; Library of Congress copyright office; Masters degree; NASA information facility; Skills; Stuart Forth; Student assistants; Undergraduate; University of Kentucky; University of South Carolina; W. T. Young Library; Washington (D.C.)

Subjects: Academic librarians; Academic libraries.; Library science.

GPS: University of Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.033333, -84.5
00:06:51 - Issues he encountered when he became Director of Libraries at the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: So what made you decide to, to make that leap in 1973 from your specialty in law librarianship to taking on the, the leadership of a, a major university library?

Segment Synopsis: Willis talks about his decision to take the position as Director of Libraries at the University of Kentucky and discusses the challenges he faced during his transition into the position.

Keywords: Candidate search; Challenges; Head of department; Interests; Interim directors; Issues; Leadership; Library directors; Library staff; Personnel; Recommendations; Relationships; Stuart Forth; Support; Transitions

Subjects: Academic librarians; Academic libraries.; Library administrators.; Library employees; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky. Libraries

GPS: University of Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.033333, -84.5
00:11:15 - Relationships and cooperation with other library directors

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Partial Transcript: Um, as, as you know, uh, this year, 2016, is the sixtieth anniversary of the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries, or ASERL.

Segment Synopsis: Willis talks about his reliance on ASERL and other professional groups during his early years as library director to learn best practices and find mentors. He talks about the differences between various professional groups. He talks about a resource sharing project he worked on in cooperation with the directors at Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee.

Keywords: Association of Research Libraries (ARL); Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL); Best practices; Colleagues; Collection sharing; Courier services; Indiana University; Information Alliance; Interlibrary loan (ILL); Library directors; Meetings; Mentors; Paul Gherman; Paula Kaufman; Relationships; Resource sharing; University of South Carolina; University of Tennessee; Vanderbilt University;   University of Kentucky

Subjects: Academic librarians; Academic libraries.; Consortia.; Joint-use libraries.; Library administrators.; Library cooperation.; Library resources.

00:19:05 - Group dynamics of ASERL (Association of Southeastern Research Libraries)

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Partial Transcript: You've talked a little bit about the, the, the difference in the, the relationships that you, uh, had with deans and directors say in ARL versus, versus ASERL.

Segment Synopsis: Willis talks about the membership and relationships in ASERL when he first joined, and talks about the changes that occurred in the organization when the executive director position was created.

Keywords: Age; Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL); Changes; Decisions; Discussions; Executive directors; Friendly; Group dynamics; Hilton Head (S.C.); John Burger; Meetings; Men; Ralph Russell; Resource sharing; Southeastern Library Network, Inc. (SOLINET, now part of LYRASIS); Vacations;   Joseph Boykin

Subjects: Academic librarians; Academic libraries.; Consortia.; Library administrators.; Library cooperation.; Library resources.

GPS: Hilton Head (S.C.)
Map Coordinates: 32.178889, -80.743056
00:24:22 - Shared virtual storage project / issues with consortia

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Partial Transcript: Um, I'd like to bring up another, um, project.

Segment Synopsis: Willis talks about an idea he collaborated on for a virtual shared storage system. He talks about how the idea came about and his involvement with it. He talks about some of the issues that make libraries or their administrators wary of joining consortia or creating collaborative projects. He talks about how regional consortia differ from larger consortial groups.

Keywords: Access; Association of Research Libraries (ARL); Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL); Center for Research Libraries (CRL); Collaboration; Colleagues; Concerns; Digitization; Disappointments; Federal documents; Funding; Improvements; Incentives; Information Alliance; Issues; Journals; Monographs; Online Computer Library Center, Inc. (OCLC); Paul Gherman; Political; Preservation; Proposals; Regional consortia; Relationships; Remote storage facilities; Repositories; Resistance; Resource sharing; Shared virtual storage; Socialization; Southeastern Library Network, Inc. (SOLINET, now part of LYRASIS); State laws; Vanderbilt University; Volume count;   Projects

Subjects: Academic librarians; Academic libraries.; Consortia.; Joint-use libraries.; Library administrators.; Library cooperation.; Library resources.; Universities and colleges--Administration.

00:39:22 - Benefits of consortia

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Partial Transcript: We've touched on, um, a few projects in ASERL, uh, with which you were, uh, involved.

Segment Synopsis: Willis talks about the benefits of participating in consortial groups, including learning best practices, increased political clout, and the opportunity for better training and other resources that would be too costly for one institution to create on their own. He talks about the importance of an executive position within a professional group.

Keywords: Advice; Agriculture faculty; Association of Research Libraries (ARL); Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL); Best practices; Board of directors; Budgets; Cohort group; Colleagues; Commonalities; Continuing education; Executive directors; Funding; Ideas; John Burger; Leadership; Learning; Library directors; Meeting minutes; Members; Needs; Paul Gherman; Paula Kaufman; Peers; Political power; Private institutions; Professional organizations; Projects; Relationships; Roles; Sharing; Southeastern Library Network, Inc. (SOLINET, now part of LYRASIS); State level; Training; University of Kentucky; University of Tennessee; Vanderbilt University;   Strengths

Subjects: Academic librarians; Academic libraries.; Consortia.; Joint-use libraries.; Library administrators.; Library cooperation.; Library resources.

00:54:01 - Career accomplishments / fundraising

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Partial Transcript: Um, this, this next question might be a bit, bit of a trick question so I apologize in advance if it's, if it's difficult.

Segment Synopsis: Willis talks about what he sees as his greatest accomplishments during his career. He talks about his work to implement promotion/tenure standards at the University of Kentucky, but focuses most of his discussion on his work in public/donor relations. He talks about the importance of creating relationships between the library and potential donors, and gives many specific examples of his own work cultivating relationships with donors.

Keywords: Bob Hoolihan; Book endowment; Carol Diedrichs; Connections; Donations; Donor relations; Entertaining; Funding; Fundraising; Knowledge; Library Associates; Library Friends; Library deans; Library directors; Library faculty; Money; Promotion/tenure standards; Public relations (PR); Relationships; Roles; Support; Thomas D. Clark; University of South Carolina; Visits; W. T. Young; W. T. Young Library

Subjects: Academic librarians; Academic libraries.; College benefactors; Library administrators.; Library finance.; Universities and colleges--Finance; University of Kentucky

GPS: University of Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.033333, -84.5
01:07:32 - Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Segment Synopsis: Willis speaks again on the assistance he received from ASERL when he was first beginning his career as a library director, and talks more about the group dynamics of ASERL as compared to other professional groups. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Assistance; Association of Research Libraries (ARL); Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL); Best practices; Colleagues; Environment; Group dynamics; Paul Gherman; Paula Kaufman; Peers; Welcome;   Help

Subjects: Academic librarians; Academic libraries.; Consortia.; Library administrators.; Library cooperation.