What is your professional background? I have taken a pretty unusual path to working with libraries. After earning an MFA degree from the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television, I spent 5 years working for a start-up movie studio (Dreamworks Pictures). After a short stint with another glamorous but doomed technology start-up, I was recruited as an early employee to one more start-up company (WebFeat) that pioneered federated search technology for libraries. With nearly a decade of experience developing, selling, marketing and supporting discovery solutions for libraries, it’s been interesting to be an active participant in the evolution of discovery products from federated search to next-gen catalogs to Web-scale discovery.
What do you like most about working for Serials Solutions? I appreciate the pace of innovation and the passion shared by colleagues for getting things right, rather than just getting things done. Working at Serials Solutions has been inspiring, challenging and rewarding. While it is hugely satisfying to know that Summon is having a dramatic impact in libraries and making a difference for researchers, it is also exciting to know that we’re really just getting started in terms of reaching our goals for optimizing the research experience and for pushing the envelope for what library discovery can be.
What do you find most exciting about the future of libraries? It’s invigorating to work every day with libraries that are trying to keep pace with changing technologies and are proactively taking steps to meet changing users’ expectations. I’m extremely fortunate to live near North Carolina State University where they just opened the Hunt Library—possibly one of the most state-of-the-art libraries in the world. More than a technological and design marvel, Hunt Library epitomizes what I think great university libraries should be—centers of collaboration and research that are truly at the core of enabling and inspiring the greater mission of the institution as well as the community beyond. I am hopeful that more universities will follow the lead of NCSU in making their libraries interactive jewels at center of the academic universe.
Who is your favorite author? I’m a political junkie and stats guy—so I enjoyed Nate Silver’s latest book. I find the concepts of using “big data”, crowdsourcing and community-effect to predict outcomes pretty fascinating especially in relation to how we are using behavioral and usage data from the global Summon customer base to improve and inform library discovery. With good data and knowing the right questions to ask, we have enormous potential to solve big challenges.
Do you have a favorite library? If so, which one? I have two. Even though it just opened recently, my favorite academic library would have to be the Hunt Library at NCSU for all the reasons listed above. My local library, the West Regional Library in Wake County, NC is also a gem and a great example of a modern public library. However, I get so many fines for overdue children’s books that I’m not sure if they consider me a menace or a philanthropist.
What can you tell us about yourself that we might never guess? I once enjoyed a few minutes of fame for producing a documentary film that won recognition in the student-version of the Emmy® awards from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. I got to accept the award at a gala in Beverly Hills, in tuxedo and all, and have vague memories of the award being presented by actress Marion Ross—the mom from Happy Days.