March 28th, 2000
By SAM WILKINSON
Appointed by West Virginia University Provost Gerald Lang to be the new dean of West Virginia libraries, Frances O’Brien comes to WVU in a time of change.
New facilities are being built and the budget is being increased. O’Brien is thrilled.
“I was impressed by a number of things,” O’Brien said. “The new building program, with the renovation of Evansdale, the all-site storage facility, the addition to expand the Wise Library, is a promise by the campus to support the library.”
O’Brien said she likes what WVU President David Hardesty and Lang say about being a student-centered University.
“I think it is a good setting for the students,” O’Brien said. “I hope it will be a responsive library with rapid access to information.”
O’Brien, with 26 years of experience under her belt, said she feels that it is those years of experience that will help her in her job.
“I feel that my credentials are a pretty good match for the job,” O’Brien said. “I have experience in technical services, public services, administration and all in similar sized institutions.”
She has worked at the University of Tennessee, Virginia Tech, the University of Delaware, the University of Georgia and most recently served as deputy university librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“I am familiar with the kind of work that goes on at a flagship institution,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said that she will not come in to change for the sake of change, but would rather find out what the strengths are within the library and then begin her work.
“I talked to people during my three-day campus interview,” O’Brien said. “The agenda for the future is something that we all as a staff need to start work on.”
For the future, O’Brien sees herself running two libraries.
“Any academic library today runs two libraries, one involved with research and academic materials and the other involves electronic resources,” she said.
O’Brien added that in her lifetime, libraries will not be required to make sure that there is not just an on-site collection that meets the students needs, but also a library that provides access to materials not in Morgantown.
In her previous role, O’Brien oversaw 45 branch libraries that reported to her, as well as being responsible for public service, technical services and budget oversight.
O’Brien was pleased that Lang was providing an additional $250,000 for her permanent base budget but said she feels that the library should be run in an efficient and economical way.