A chat with Associate Dean Erika Johnson

August 9th, 2019 by Debbie Benrubi Leave a reply »

Who is Associate Dean for Technical Services Erika Johnson, and what’s her role at the library? We asked Erika the tough questions and bring you the answers!ErikaJ

Tell us about your path to USF.
Originally from Wisconsin, I’ve covered all points of the compass here in the US, having lived on both coasts, the south, and the frozen north, and am delighted to be back on the west coast. I have a B.A. in French and International Relations from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.

I’ve been working in libraries and related fields for over 20 years, ranging from public libraries and state archives, to working for the American Library Association, but found my home in academic libraries. Before coming to USF, I served as the Electronic Resources & Technical Services Librarian at Boston College, which is where I first learned about social justice and Jesuit education.

Previous work lives also include Acquisitions & Serials Librarian at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and Program Officer for the American Library Association. In the latter role, one of my proudest professional achievements was coordinating nearly 1000 volunteers at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans in 2006, the first major conference to return to the city after Hurricane Katrina. Our volunteers spent two days cleaning out and rebuilding homes, libraries, and other community sites ravaged by the hurricane. I was really worried about all those volunteers climbing around on unstable roofs, tearing out moldy insulation and drywall, doing heavy lifting, etc. all in 100 degree heat. But they all came back sweaty, dirty, and with huge smiles on their faces! I’m very grateful to have been part of that experience for both the librarians and the folks in NOLA.

How long have you worked at Gleeson?
I started in January 2014 as the Head of Acquisitions and Collection Management, with responsibility for managing the library materials budget, working with liaisons to select resources for purchase, and overseeing periodicals and electronic resource services.

What’s your role as Associate Dean for Technical Services?
In addition to my areas of responsibility in acquisitions, collection management, and the related activities above, I now have administrative oversight of the functional areas of cataloging and metadata management, digital collections, and library systems. If this sounds a bit jargony, think of it as the behind-the-scenes work that supports student and faculty access to all of our books, databases, journals, and other content for study and research.

I’m guessing many people outside of libraries don’t really understand what “technical services” means. One of the reasons I was interested in this position was to strengthen awareness of and support for the key areas that make reference and instruction successful. The dedicated folks in these departments ensure the right materials are purchased, received, and made available to all our users.

Do you have any special projects underway?
My research interests recently have focused on managing and assessing Gleeson Library collections. Since 2015, I have been engaged in a collaborative longitudinal collections study with colleagues at Santa Clara University Library and Loyola Marymount University Library, using interlibrary loan data to inform collection development at our respective institutions. I am also interested in investigating new liaison models, and the Gleeson Library is about to launch our new 2019-2022 strategic plan, which will provide numerous opportunities to evaluate and improve the services and collections we provide to the campus community.

What do you like to do when you’re not at the library?
One of the best things about living in the Bay Area is exploring all the parks, trails, beaches, and other natural beauty of this region. Nothing clears my head better than watching the fog curl over the hills, or hearing the waves crash at Land’s End. I also try to get to a yoga class at least once a week, and on weekends I volunteer with a local dog rescue organization.

Anything else you want people to know?
We want to hear from you! If there’s a book you need, a journal you want access to, or a suggestion to add to our digital collections, please reach out to a librarian, to your librarian liaison if you’re faculty, or to me directly.

Thank you, Erika!

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