Interviews with ALCTS Leaders: Mary Beth Weber, Library Resources & Technical Services (LRTS) Editor

Headshot of Mary Beth WeberWhat is your full time position?

I’m the head of Central Technical Services at Rutgers University Libraries. Until recently, that was a combined unit of acquisitions and cataloging (both MARC and non-MARC metadata). Following a move to centralize functions, my unit now handles all cataloging and metadata plus holdings management. We’re a central unit that serves the entire library system, which consists of four geographically separate campuses, including a medical school.

What are some interesting things you’re working on?

Right now, most of my time has been spent on our migration to a new library services platform (LSP): learning the new system, developing workflows, and resolving data migration issues. I have some ideas for publications, but right now I am just at the idea phase.

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

I’ve been active in ALCTS in a number of roles, starting with serving as an interest group chair for two different groups and chairing a division-level committee. I took a little time off from ALCTS after my daughters were born. Working full-time (with a long commute) and having two young children made it hard for me to participate. Once my kids were a little older, I decided to apply for the Newsletter Editor position and was honored to be invited for an interview and later offered the opportunity to be the editor of ALCTS News Online, or ANO, which has now become ALCTS News. A year after my term ended, Peggy Johnson was concluding her second term as editor of Library Resources & Technical Services (LRTS). Although I was interested in applying, I thought it would be selfish to apply for it after having served as the ANO editor for six years. It turned out that someone nominated me for the editor position, and I was contacted by the search committee to see if I was interested in applying. I was, and the interview was a bit daunting! I interviewed by phone with several members of the LRTS Editorial Board. I was ecstatic when I later was offered the position!

What do you do in your leadership role with ALCTS?

As LRTS Editor, I chair the LRTS Editorial Board, whose members review papers and help me to solicit content. I also actively solicit content for the journal and oversee all submissions from review and editing to the final product. I work closely with Brooke Morris-Chott, who is ALCTS’ Program Officer for Communications, and Tim Clifford of ALA Production Services. Brooke is an amazing copy editor, and Tim handles the journal’s layout and production.

I also participated in ALCTS’ inaugural year of the mentoring program and was delighted to be paired with Hayley Moreno. It was an incredible experience, and ALCTS did a fantastic job organizing and executing the program. Unfortunately, due to Rutgers’ migration to a new LSP, I wasn’t able to participate in the mentoring program this year.

What accomplishments in this role are you most proud of?

There are so many things of which I can be proud! One of them is being able to make a peer-reviewed scholarly journal available to ALCTS and our profession. Working with authors to prepare their papers for publication is very gratifying. The collaboration between authors and me is very intense, and I often stay in touch with some of them after their papers are published.

I’m proud of the books I’ve published and am grateful for opportunity to work with wonderful collaborators and editors.

What future plans do you have for yourself or the direction of LRTS?

My term as editor concludes in 2020. I’d like to just be a conference attendee for one year! No chairing, etc. However, I might still participate in the mentoring program!

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

My library system is launching a revised mentoring program this year, and I’m excited to be part of the group that rolls it out.

ALCTS has been my home for most of my professional career. It has met my needs as my work has changed, and I really haven’t felt the need to be part of another organization.

Tell us a little bit about your family or pets.

I have two teenage daughters. My older daughter is an animal lover and is very passionate about ethical treatment of animals. She is vegan and plans to become a veterinary technician. My younger daughter joined me at the 2018 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans and got a first-hand glimpse of exactly what I do at conferences. She plans to be an interventional radiologist and is currently applying to colleges. Neither of my kids exactly understands what I do. In fact, they often allude to the “secret world of librarians.” Nevertheless, I attribute their ability to find information and their research skills to the fact their mom is a librarian. I’ve been married to my husband Rudy, who’s an accountant, for 21 years. As a family, we like to travel and tend to take our vacations in the winter since we all ski, except my younger daughter, who snowboards.

As for pets, we have a rescued bunny, Faye, who has been with us for almost three years. We also have two parakeets, Duke and Wasabi. We recently fostered two former lab guinea pigs, Mack and Peri (short for Macklemore and Periwinkle), who are now in their forever home.

What do you do in your spare time?

I don’t have much spare time due to work. I spend my weekends with my family. My daughters ride horses, so I also spend a good part of my weekends going back and forth to the barn with them. We also love coffee, and going out for coffee is part of our weekend routine. I also like to cook, and I’m always trying new recipes for my daughters.

What is your favorite book?

There are so many books that I like that it would be hard to cite one as a favorite. I like Toni Morrison’s books and Margaret Atwood’s, and I also like Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. I recently read Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones.

What is your professional or personal philosophy?

Your best investment is yourself.

What else would you like readers to know about you?

I didn’t originally set out to be a cataloger or technical services librarian. My first professional position was to provide reference and cataloging at a small university in South Carolina. I found that I really enjoyed cataloging and was hooked.

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