Volume 3 Number 4
|In Her Own Words
Marlene Harris, Ex Libris
|About a month ago John Schumacher asked me to
write an article for SUNYergy about any or all of the following: my background, my
experience at Ex Libris, SUNYConnect, traveling New York, experiences with the
pilot sites. Oh yes, and he told me to do it in about "one page." Well, here
As with all of the Implementation Librarians at Ex Libris, I really am a librarian. I received my MSLS "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" (I also read science fiction). But seriously, I received it in 1981 from the University of Kentucky. I had been working for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County while I worked on both my Bachelors and my Masters degrees. As I began my career in earnest I sought positions first at the Crown Point Community (Public) Library in Indiana, and then at the Oak Park Public Library and finally the Evanston Public Library, both of the latter in Illinois. At these libraries I worked in the Technical Services departments, and eventually also in the Systems department, when there finally got to be a Systems Department. So, I have always been interested in the technical side of libraries. I got my first personal computer in 1979. I helped build it out of a kit, so I have been involved with computers a long time, too.
After all of this, in 1999 I decided it was time for a change in direction. I've always been interested or involved in systems, and I have always been fascinated with problem solving, so I applied for a position at Endeavor Information Systems as a Project Manager. This is equivalent to the position of Implementation Librarian at Ex Libris. After I worked at Endeavor for about a year and a half I came to Ex Libris, first as a Senior Implementation Librarian, then as Senior Team Leader, and finally, this June, as Manager of Implementations. (I finally got rid of that "Senior," which always sounded so old!)
I officially started working on SUNYConnect in April, 2000. But from my perspective, the project didn't truly get under way until an event that is still fondly referred to at Ex Libris as "The Road Trip." Several of us got to meet a number of SUNY librarians, and to drive the highways and biways throughout New York State while we were at it. For a week, I felt rather like the ringmaster of a traveling circus, one with an ever-changing set of venues. For those of you who might be curious about why the trip is still referred to in capital letters, let me describe parts of our itinerary.
On Sunday, Marie Erdman, Galen Charlton and I flew from Chicago to Buffalo, while Michael Blake drove from Boston to Buffalo. On Monday, we met with representatives from SUNY at Buffalo, Binghamton, Fredonia and the OLIS office for a one-day introduction to the implementation process. Then the four of us piled into Michael's van and he drove to Syracuse. On Tuesday, we met with representatives from Oswego, Tompkins Cortland Community College, and OLIS. Tuesday night we drove up to Oswego to see what it looked like, and Wednesday morning Michael drove Galen and me to Albany and put us on a train to New York City. Randy Menakes and Maruta Skujina flew to New York City from Chicago, and Mary Croxen flew in from Boston.
Maruta's hotel room had a bathroom where the ceiling was absolutely furry with mold. Thursday, Maruta got a different room.
Randy, Maruta, Mary and Galen went to CUNY. Thursday night, Marie arrived by train from Syracuse, and she got the room with the furry bathroom ceiling. Friday morning, very early, we all piled on the train to Long Island, and went to meet with the staff at Stony Brook, as well as OLIS representatives. It was quite a week! We were able to meet a lot of SUNY librarians in a relatively short period of time, we got the project off to a rousing start. The furry ceiling will live forever in infamy.
The furry ceiling makes for a fun story. But, working with the library staffs at all of the SUNY pilot sites has been the great story. It is one with an ever expanding cast of enthusiastic characters. The story has had a number of chapters so far, but I can definitely see that the first book in the series will be coming to a happy ending soon, and then the sequel will be launched with a new group of libraries and librarians to meet and get to know.
I am looking forward to working with all of you in the months and years ahead.
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