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University’s libraries under new leadership

Self-checkout machines, updated books and membership in a prominent library association are just some of the items at the top of William Garrison’s to-do list upon his appointment as dean of USF Libraries.

“I felt a really positive energy here that I have not felt at other places,” said Garrison, who was appointed Feb. 4. “I think this is an institution really looking to move forward. I was absolutely thrilled when I was offered the position.”

Garrison held leadership positions at other universities, including Syracuse, Stanford and Northwestern. He also served as a fellow for the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), a group that aims to influence and policies to promote the goals of research libraries.

Garrison says his goal is to make USF’s library system as good as those of top-tier research universities, helping USF gain membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU), an association of top research universities that helps its members formulate positions on national policies related to research and education.

The only way to get into AAU is to obtain an ARL membership first, Garrison said.

“That’s one of the mandates that I have: to ensure that the collections and the services that we’re providing are going to be at the level that will gain us membership in the Association of Research Libraries,” Garrison said.

Todd Chavez, director of collection analysis and technical services of the Library, said Garrison’s previous administrative positions in ARL libraries make him well suited to launch the Library into the next level.

“In the end, ARL membership is formal recognition that the libraries are equal to the task of supporting USF’s ambitious learning and research mission,” Chavez said. “He is both an excellent fit with the current staff and faculty and extraordinarily qualified to guide the libraries through our ambitious strategic plan and ARL aspirations.”

To realize ARL membership and eventual AAU membership, Garrison plans to streamline the library system.

“We’re examining all the processes that we’re using internally,” Garrison said. “We’ll be looking to see if services are actually being used and looking at better and more efficient ways of doing things.”

In addition to updating USF Libraries’ collections, Garrison said he plans to provide better services by updating computer software and creating self-checkout areas in the Library.

“I want to get machines so that you can do it yourself and also get common software on all the computers in the Library so that when you go from one computer to another, you don’t have different software on it,” Garrison said.

In light of recent University budget cuts, Garrison intends to make improvements while also cutting costs.

“There may be some cuts we will make, but the intention is certainly not to cut services to the students and the faculty,” Garrison said. “I really want to make the Library an inviting place that students and faculty will want to come to use – that’s a major thing I want to do.”

USF has six libraries, including special libraries such as the Shimberg Health Sciences Library and the Institute Research Library, which serves the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute. The Lakeland, Sarasota and St. Petersburg campuses each house their own libraries. The Tampa campus is home to USF’s main research library.

Garrison sees USF’s vast library system as an advantage in gaining ARL membership.

“There is a lot of opportunity for collaboration, and we certainly want to maximize that in partnering with the libraries on the (Tampa) campus and other USF campuses,” Garrison said.

Derrie Perez, outgoing dean of libraries, said Garrison has what it takes to help USF achieve ARL status.

“He knows what to do and has already hit the ground running,” Perez said. “He is well connected in research library circles and I have no doubt that if anyone can get USF into ARL over the next few years, especially during these tough times, it will be Bill Garrison.”