Library education and technology will be two of the priorities of new College Librarian David Pilachowski.
Pilachowski arrived on campus a month and a half ago to replace Phyllis L. Cutler, who retired this past summer after 16 years at Williams.
Pilachowski comes to Williamstown from Denison University, where he was director of libraries and chair of the Denison Library Advisory Committee, in addition to holding other positions.
At Williams he will be responsible for directing the library staff of 31, and will allocate $3.5 million in library funds yearly. His will also oversee the renovation of Stetson and the construction and operation of a new science library expected to open in the year 2000.
Pilachowski, who called himself “a new student engaged in a crash course on the Williams College libraries,” said he has been pleased so far with the staff and resources at the Williams libraries.
“Any library director would say that there’s a wonderful staff here,” Pilachowski said. “These are expert creative librarians who enjoy being librarians. It’s wonderful for me to arrive and have such a strong staff. Likewise, the collections are magnificent. There is great richness and depth to the collection.”
When asked about his goals, Pilachowski said foremost he would like to educate the student body as to the resources available at the libraries on campus. He praised Sawyer’s instructional program, and hopes it can be expanded in the coming semesters.
“We want to make students good library users,” he said. “They should know how to find resources and how to make distinctions [between sources]. Students will spend a lot of time using the library. We want to help them use their time efficiently.”
Pilachowski’s interest in technology is as avid as his interest in teaching. Williams currently has access to about 350 journals, databases and catalogues, many of which allow researchers to do full text searches of periodicals dating back to the beginning of the century. Pilachowski said his role as a college librarian will evolve along with the changing technology.
Although Pilachowski said books are from becoming obselete, he noted that it is now possible for the college library to exist within a student’s computer.
“We’re extending the library out of the four walls and onto campus,” he said. “(The Office of Information Technology) has developed a very sound network. That is what makes this all possible.”
Among Pilachowski’s short-term goals include work on the new science library facility. The project will consolidate seven currently unstaffed science reading rooms into one 33,000 square foot facility. The goal of the project is to integrate the collections into a staffed space more accessible to students.
In order to become the new librarian, Pilachowski was interviewed along with 20 other candidates last year. The search committee was headed by College Provost Stuart Crampton and included six professors and Robert Volz, the head of the Chapin Library. Crampton said the group consulted extensively with Williams’ 12 professional librarians during the process.
Crampton said he was struck by both Pilachowski’s personal and professional qualifications.
“[Pilachowski] comes cross as being very understanding of the role of technology in modern libraries, which includes when to use computers and when not to use computers,” Crampton said. “We’re certainly not phasing out books, but the library and education sides of technology have a lot of common interests. He also got along with Perry Hanson [head of the Office of Information Technology], which didn’t hurt.”
Crampton added that he was also impressed by Pilachowski’s cooperative approach to management.
“That’s very important here where the college has a history of functioning on good will,” Crampton said.
Xiaoyin Zhang, the head of the Acquisitions and Serials department, said she was impressed by Pilachowski’s technical skills and effective communication when she attended the interview.
“His people skills are very good, which is important,” she said. “He asked why he didn’t have time to meet the staff during his interview which impressed me.”