Phyllis Cutler, `Williams College librarian for 14 years, is retiring this year and the search to replace her is underway. The search process commenced in November and is drawing to a close with presentations by the four finalists entitled, “On the Future of the Library on a Liberal Arts Campus.”
The Committee to select Cutler’s replacement is headed by College Provost Stuart Crampton and includes Vice Provost David Booth, Chapin librarian Robert Volz and six professors drawn from the three divisions. Several of the committee members were formerly on the faculty-student library committee and all are heavy library users.
Booth, whose duties as vice provost include acting as a liaison to the library for the administration, described the search as a national one, in which candidates from both inside and outside of the College are invited to apply. An ad was placed in The Chronicle of Higher Education with a deadline to apply by Jan. 15.
“Approximately 42 applications, which included a resume and an essay were received and from these contenders the college selected about 25 semi-finalists who were asked to provide three or four letters of reference,” Booth said. “From these the four finalists were selected to come to campus to give a presentation, meet with the committee, the dean of the faculty and the library staff.” The finalists consist of three males and one female.
All candidates were expected to have masters degrees in library or library and information technology science. Additionally, most candidates have a M.A. or Ph.D. in an academic area.
Booth said, “The committee is seeking a candidate who is best able to oversee the general workings of the library and represent the library to the community. We are also taking into consideration that a knowledge of information technology is important, but a librarian is not expected to be a technician. The librarian has to have an understanding of technology which will enable him or her to make the decision whether to buy software or monographs.”
He noted, “In a couple of weeks, the committee will decide whether to make an offer to one of the four finalists or to begin searching for other candidates.”
Referring to the talks the candidates have given on campus in the past and coming week, Booth said community input was an important aspect of the search prospect. “Each of the lectures have been attended by 35 or 40 people and the receptions for the candidates have also been well attended. In addition, the provost welcomes suggestions by e-mail.”
Booth said when head librarians are hired they generally stay for a while. “In the 38 years I’ve been here we’ve had five presidents but only three college librarians,” he said.
Reflecting on the overall search, Booth said, “It’s been a good process. I feel we’ve had a substantial number of highly qualified applicants, so hopefully we’ll be able to choose a qualified successor to Phyllis Cutler, who has done a wonderful job.”
Member of the search committee Professor of Geosciences Paul Karabinos said, “Hiring a College Librarian is a funny thing, it’s not as if you interact with the college librarian on a daily basis. From a Geosciences perspective, I’m looking for someone who will smoothly make the transition from individual science libraries to the new library which will open in 2000 or 2001. I also see the ability to choose wisely between selecting new technologies and maintaining more traditional library services.”
He also emphasized “the importance of having a librarian who is an inspiration to the library staff and is able to reach out to the various members of the community that have differing needs.”
Amy Sprenglemeyer ’00, a student worker at the library noted, “Working at the circulation desk I only come into contact with the circulation staff. However, I can see how the director would have an important impact on the workings of the library as a whole.”