SLIS Graduate & Mayor of Oxford, Ohio
SLIS Network Alumni Magazine
Jerome Conley (MLS '90) is a member of the SLIS Alumni Board. He is the Interim Assistant Dean of the University Libraries at Miami University and is currently serving his second term as the mayor of Oxford, Ohio. Conley recently responded to questions in an email interview.
Tell us about your current position. What do you like about it? What do you find most challenging?
I am the Interim Assistant Dean of the University Libraries at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and the mayor of Oxford, Ohio. The aspect that I like most about my jobs is the interactions I have with fellow librarians, students, faculty, administrators, and all of my constituents. I am involved in decisions that have wide repercussions throughout Miami University or the community. It helps me to connect to those individuals that use our services the most.
The most challenging aspect of both positions is the fast-paced nature of the jobs. With meetings scheduled practically every hour, it becomes difficult balancing the daily tasks with the lack of free time. Even though I get to communicate with a wide range of people, I often become inundated with large amounts of information, which can sometimes be a bit overwhelming.
Luckily, I am an early bird and up by four o'clock on most mornings. I read three newspapers prior to going into the office, while listening to the BBC or NPR in the background. Once I get to my office, I traditionally check in with the Oxford city manager or clerk of council on any pressing issues. I also receive a police report from the previous night's activities. These activities are completed before I start my "real" position with the university library.
What SLIS course(s) have you found to be the most valuable in your professional life?
Was there anyone during your time at SLIS who acted as a mentor for you?
Tom Nisonger and Debora "Ralf" Shaw arrived during the first year of my MLS program. They have remained friends to this day and are true assets to the profession. In addition, both David Kaser and Herb White, distinguished faculty members who loved the practice of librarianship, had an open door policy throughout my time at SLIS.
What advice would you give to current SLIS students?
Relish the little time that you have at IU! Even though there is much to do out in the real world, your IU experiences will build the cornerstone of who you are as a person. Though some IU experiences may be embarrassing, each moment will assist in building your individual character. It is this character that will set you apart from your peers across the U. S. and the world.
What are your thoughts on the concept of the "civic library"? How do you view the role of the Miami University library within the greater community of Oxford?
I believe that civic librarianship provides an additional opportunity to carry out the core mission of providing lifelong learning experience(s) to its users and customers. Public libraries have done an excellent job of providing services and programs outside of the traditional library "walls" that engage their users for years. Fortunately, academic libraries are following the lead of our public library colleagues by identifying collaborative partnerships with our academic departments that are outside our traditional "walls," with a mutual benefit to both parties.
At Miami University, these partnerships include supporting university projects in Europe, Asia, and Africa, as well as providing library support for students engaged in rural projects in Appalachia, in the inner cities of Cincinnati and Dayton, and on the reservation of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. Ultimately, the service mission of the libraries coupled with the academic mission of the department brings a synergy to the greater community that benefits our patrons.
SLIS alumni have recently been mailed the Spring 2007 issue of the alumni magazine (SLIS Network, Vol.45, No.1). The theme of this issue was "Civic Engagement." If you did not receive a copy, you can update your alumni address by emailing us at (firstname.lastname@example.org). SLIS Network is produced twice a year.
Posted May 18, 2007