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Dean of libraries selected

By Matthew Winston

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 16 - January 19, 1995

Eileen Hitchingham has been named dean of university libraries at Virginia Tech.

Hitchingham, who began her duties January 1, will be responsible for the leadership and oversight of the administration of all information services provided by the library system at Virginia Tech. This includes the facilities in the Newman Library and the satellite locations in Derring, the Veterinary College, and Cowgill.

The position of dean of university libraries, which was formerly director of library services, will report directly to Erv Blythe, vice president for information systems.

Hitchingham came to Tech from Drexel University, where she spent four years as dean of library services and as an associate professor in the College of Information Studies. She was dean of library services at the University of Idaho before moving to Drexel. She has also served the library system at Oakland University from 1968-1987 as the science and engineering librarian, head of reference; acting associate dean for public services; and automation coordinator.

She spent a year at Harvard University from 1967-68 at the Countway Library of Medicine.

Hitchingham says that the dean of libraries position reflects the continuing need to maintain information communication services for the support of academics at the university. She believes her experience reflects the direction that the university is taking now to continue to use technology to enhance the university's library services.

Hitchingham says that it was Virginia Tech's current initiatives that attracted her to Blacksburg in the first place. "I already had seen Spectrum on the Internet. I also knew of the success of VTLS and the Blacksburg Electronic Village in the arena of information technology," said Hitchingham. "These projects and others here at Virginia Tech parallel my own career path and career goals "Of course the beautiful scenery of campus and the surrounding area helped a lot," she added.

In addition to her professional experience, Hitchingham has published articles concerning library automation systems and on-line database management in several books, magazines, and journals. She has also served as a consultant for companies and institutions, including the Michigan Library Consortium, the National Librarians Association, and General Motors.

Hitchingham says that the library system needs to work in the realm of information services because of the changing nature of libraries. "Our focus is to provide information services to the entire university community in terms of academic research for the faculty and students," Hitchingham said. "With the advances in computers and communication methods, libraries are no longer just books, but information delivery services."

She says that libraries are now "libraries without walls" as a result of the advances in communication technology. "Computers and modems give us the ability to access information from all over the world," and Virginia Tech needs to remain at the forefront of this type of service.

Hitchingham's first goal is to get to know the library staff better and to get a handle on the information services now available through this institution.

Then the next step is to see how they can more effectively deliver information to the university community with the continual advent of new technology. "Tech is ahead of the curve in these areas, now," she said. "But the status quo will not do. We will need to continue to work hard to stay ahead of that curve."