After a nationwide search, Lauren Pressley has assumed the role of Director of the UW Tacoma Library. In her previous position, Lauren was the Director of Learning Environments at Virginia Tech University Libraries, where she oversaw a large public services department and library learning spaces. She also served as the Head of Instruction at Wake Forest University Z. Smith Reynolds Library.
After receiving an MLIS from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Lauren has garnered an impressive record of advancing the role of libraries in higher education. In 2009, Library Journal recognized her as a "mover and shaker" for her work in instructional design, and she has written numerous articles, book chapters, and books on a wide variety of library topics. She also actively participates in several national professional organizations, including the American Library Association and Library Pipeline.
Her first day on the job is September 15. To meet Lauren in person, please stop by the Library Open House on October 7, from 1 - 4 pm.
To introduce her to campus, we spoke with Lauren this summer and asked her a few questions about her new position.
What would you like the UW Tacoma community to know about you?
First, I'd like to say that I'm excited to be joining UW Tacoma. I enjoyed meeting everyone during the interview, and I'm looking forward to getting to know other people and groups on campus.
Before coming here, I worked for a decade at Wake Forest University. My work there focused on pedagogy, instruction, and helping students navigate secondary research environments. For the past two and half years, I've been at Virginia Tech, where my position has concentrated on the user experience and evolving the library's spaces and services from that perspective.
On the personal side, I've lived in the Southeast my whole life. My husband and I are are delighted to be out here, but our five-year-old is especially excited about the move. At some point, our two cats will travel west, too.
How do you envision your next six months to a year as the new Library Director?
I imagine I'll spend most of my time getting to know people and building relationships. I'll probably do a lot of reading too, to learn about what UW Tacoma has been up to and where it's going. I see that the Chancellor has started a strategic planning initiative, and I'd like to learn more about how the Library can support this effort.
As digital technologies continue to advance, what role does the library as a space have in higher education?
That's a big question with no specific answer. There are a lot of discussions going on nationally about libraries as learning spaces, but I've learned from personal experience that whatever is done should be shaped by that specific community. At the places where I've worked, I've seen the library staff become campus leaders who push the edge of technological innovation, exploring what's possible at the university in a non-threatening environment.
I have also been involved in launching technology rich learning environments in libraries, such as labs, studio spaces, and updated classrooms. When faculty and students came in, they could see others using the technology, learn what worked, and get ideas for their own projects. The library can be a safe place to experiment. And if something didn’t work as expected, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing--it can be an opportunity to learn something different and get new ideas for the future.
Overall, I think a library can serve as a catalyst for positive change, and I look forward to finding how this might happen at UW Tacoma.
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org