Interviews with ALCTS Leaders: Margaret Mering, International Relations Committee Chair

A picture of Margaret MeringWhat is your full time position?

I am the Metadata Quality Librarian for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s (UNL) institutional repository. At close to 97,000 total items, UNL’s repository is Bepress’ largest installation. In terms of its content size, it is among the top five in the United States. It is also one of the most heavily used repositories in the country. Annually, it has 6 to 7 million downloads.

What are some interesting things you’re working on?

One of the most interesting aspects of my positon is to consistently and accurately identify individual researchers with their scholarly activities. A number of factors make this goal difficult to achieve. In the course of their careers, researchers may use their full names for some publications, their first and middle initials or nicknames for others. They may change their names because of marriage or divorce. Others may have common names which are difficult to distinguish from other similar or identical names, even by using middle names or initials. Researchers’ affiliations may also appear differently. For example, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln may be listed as UNL. Organizations may change their names. In 2005, for example, California State University, Hayward became California State University, East Bay. Researchers may move to a different institution one or more times. Some may have concurrent multiple affiliations, and, depending on funding, may use different affiliations for different publications.

How did you come to serve in a leadership role with ALCTS? What prepared you, and how did you get the position?

I have been an active ALCTS member since the beginning of my career. I have regularly volunteered to serve on committees. I feel networking with other members of ALCTS has played an important role in my involvement with the division. I was active in the Continuing Resource Section for a number of year. I was honored to serve as the Chair and Secretary of the section. Since that time, I have had the opportunity to serve on several division-wide committees. Because of my interest in international librarianship, I am especially excited to be serving as the chair of the International Relations Committee.

What do you do in your leadership role with ALCTS?

The ALCTS International Relations Committee oversees ALCTS Online Grant for Librarians from Developing Countries. Librarians selected for the grant participate in ALCTS Fundamentals courses. The goal of the grant is to assist library professionals from developing countries to stay current with the latest trends and developments in technical services areas and to enhance their professional knowledge and skills in librarianship and information science. The fall 2017 grant cycle was the first time that more than 100 people applied for the grant.

At the 2018 ALA Annual Conference, the International Relations Committee and GODORT will co-sponsor the program “Endangered Government Information: Strategies to Protect Government Collections.” The focus of the program will be on policy changes and the closing of Canadian government libraries, archives, and research collections and the impact on the flow of government information. It promises to be an excellent program.

Do you participate in other professional activities or have other professional interests you haven’t already mentioned?

I am currently serving as the chair of IFLA’s (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) Serials and Continuing Resource Section. I am one of ALCTS’ representatives to the section. The section’s program for this year’s conference in Kuala Lumpur will include presenters from Hong Kong, Nigeria, India and Singapore. I am very interested in hearing the presenters’ perspective on issues surrounding continuing resources and scholarly communications.

Tell us a little bit about your family or pets.

My husband is a retired professor of architecture. He has become a wonderful house husband. He is a great cook. We have a cat named Ocho (eight in Spanish). We adopted him on May 8. He was born in August, the eighth month of the year. By chance, our new neighbors have a dog named Seven of Nine, a character who appeared in Star Trek: Voyager.

What do you do in your spare time?

Like all good librarians, I read a lot. I enjoy attending chamber music concerts and theater performances. I do a fair amount of biking and hiking.

What is your professional or personal philosophy?

Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Don’t get so caught in the weeds that you forget who we are serving.

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