Interviews with ALCTS Leaders: Dale Swensen, Budget & Finance Chair

Headshot of Dale SwensenWhat is your full time position?

Head of Technical Services at the Howard W. Hunter Law Library at Brigham Young University.

What are some interesting things you’re working on in it?

We have a staff of about 6 full time employees. I do all original cataloging and oversee copy cataloging. I also take care of maintenance of our MARC records for database resources (most of which are vendor supplied) and create subject metadata for items our digital repository. I’ve been in this position for eight years now.

How did you come to serve in the leadership role with ALCTS? What prepared you, and how did you get the position? What do you do in your leadership role with ALCTS? What accomplishments in this role are you most proud of?

Interesting fact: I’ve been an ALCTS member since 1989 and counting this year; I’ve been on the ALCTS Board a total of ten (non-consecutive) years, but have never been elected to any position.

My first job in the association—and still one of my favorites—was newsletter editor. This was back in the day when the newsletter was still issued in print. I felt I was very lucky to be appointed as I was totally unknown in ALCTS prior to this time. My best qualification for the job was that I had been editor of my state library association newsletter for four years.

I was responsible for gathering news and articles and organizing each issue. It was a wonderful assignment, and I enjoyed it immensely. I loved how it brought me in touch with almost every part of the organization.

One of my best accomplishments in this position was transitioning the newsletter from print to electronic, although I can’t take sole credit for that by a long shot. It required the work of many people to bring it about. Without question, there have been many obvious benefits to moving online, but I still miss the print newsletter at times. Sometimes it’s just nice to have something you can hold in your hands.

I served for six years in that assignment and it’s been seventeen years since I finished it. In intervening years, I have served on various committees and in a number of assignments. Perhaps the most noteworthy was Interest Group Coordinator. This was a new position created in 2010 and I was the first to occupy it. In that capacity, I was charged to track interest group activity, help orient new chairs, disseminate information, and advise the Board on matters pertaining to interest groups. It was another great job, certainly one of the best in ALCTS as I saw it. I loved how it brought me in touch with a lot of fascinating people.

What’s next for you?

I’m looking forward to retirement, hopefully in a couple of years.

Tell us about your family or pets.

Some ALCTS members have been amazed to learn that I have six children. I’ve even divulged to a few of them that I have sixteen grandchildren. Oddly enough, none of them have shown an inclination towards becoming librarians. There’s still time though.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love hiking in the mountains of Utah and taking road trips to the national parks. I also enjoy cooking, attending theatre productions, and playing the piano. And, of course, I love to read.

What is your favorite book?

I have always loved reading to children, my own and my grandchildren, when I can get them to sit still for long enough. I tend to favor classics. Some of my favorites are The Hobbit, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Kipling’s Just So Stories. I also like to read poetry to children. Shel Silverstein is a favorite.

Do you have a professional or personal philosophy?

Here are a few points of my personal philosophy towards work:

  • Develop a sense of mission—in your life, your career, and in each position that you hold. Seek to internalize this sense so that you come to see your role in fulfilling the goals of your institutions and your life.
  • Be a continual learner and take responsibility for your own learning. Others may provide opportunities for you to improve, but ultimately it’s up to you to make it happen.
  • Put your whole heart and soul into the job you have now for as long as you have it.
  • Learn to be a team player, to communicate effectively, and to appreciate the contributions of others.

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