Skip to main content
Simmons headshot

What is your professional background?  I’m currently VP of Technology for Serials Solutions and manage all software development, program management, quality assurance, IT/Operations, and facilities for the company. I’ve been in the technology field for approximately 18 years in a variety of positions and companies. I actually fell into the Technology field accidentally while I was pursuing a Ph.D. in English Literature in the early 90’s. I specialized in 18th Century and Early Modern British Literature and was frustrated that many of the texts I worked with weren’t readily available to a wider audience.

At the time, the University of Virginia (where I was a graduate student) was becoming a leader in electronic book technologies and digital content, so I began working with a couple groups aligned with the library, including the Electronic Text Center and the Institute for Advanced Technologies in the Humanities on several projects. We were digitizing books and manuscripts, using SGML for semantic markup, and converting them to HTML on the fly with Perl and shell scripts. I was lucky enough to get in on the ground floor, taught myself programming, web design and development, and when I decided that I didn’t really want to write my dissertation, I was able to transition into technical writing, web development, and eventually technology management.

What do you like most about working for Serials Solutions?  I love working for a company that blends my passion for technology with my love of books and libraries. I also get to work with a fantastic group of people who are equally passionate about libraries and enriching and preserving our collective cultural heritage. There aren’t many work places that let you do that and I feel genuinely humbled that I get to do the things I love on a daily basis!

What do you find most exciting about the future of the library?  The fact that libraries are in the midst of a huge cultural shift that will affect all aspects of their role in society and academia. Libraries, both academic and public, play a number of different roles: They’re public gathering spaces, places to relax, centers for research, and keepers of our culture. They’re also moving away from their traditional role as repositories of print materials towards a world where content of all shapes and sizes is rapidly moving from physical media to various digital formats. We’re right in the middle of that transformation and it’s tremendously exciting for me to play a part in helping libraries successfully take on this challenge and provide them with the tools and workflow systems to let them manage all aspects of their collection and do so more efficiently.

Who is your favorite author?  Probably not who you might expect given my previous academic focus. I love Bram Stoker and his 1897 work Dracula. I’m also a huge Virginia Woolf fan: Mrs. Dalloway and Orlando are two of my favorite works of all time.

Do you have a favorite library? If so, which one?  Back when I was an academic, I spent a lot of time visiting various libraries, especially rare book ones. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The Beinecke’s architecture and beautiful translucent marble walls are extraordinary and its special collections are absolutely amazing.

What can you tell us about yourself that we might never guess?  I used to work for Federal Express in Virginia and once accidentally set a van on fire (True story but too involved to tell here…). It’s probably a good thing that I’m no longer a courier or involved with delivering large packages ;-).

09 Nov 2012 | Posted by Mary Howell

Related Posts

Colonialism and Conflict: Colonial State Papers and British Periodicals (Part 2: British Periodicals)

Over 350 years of British colonial activity and its associated conflicts are documented in two ProQuest historical collections — Colonial State Papers and British Periodicals. The former presents documents pertaining to the administration of…

Learn More

Colonialism and Conflict: Colonial State Papers and British Periodicals (Part 1: Colonial State Papers)

Part one of a two-part blog series. Over 350 years of British colonial activity and its associated conflicts are documented in two ProQuest historical collections — Colonial State Papers and British Periodicals. The former presents documents…

Learn More

Lacrosse—The Native American Game

ProQuest Congressional offers insight into the historic origins of lacrosse as a Native American sport, including traditions specific to Native American peoples of New York and numerous other places. The U.S. Serial Set contains 19th and 20th…

Learn More

Search the Blog

Archive

Follow