Anne C. Osterman is Director of the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA), the consortium of 72 nonprofit college and university libraries in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Prior to working at VIVA, Anne worked at a variety of academic institutions including American University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Anne was good enough to answer a few questions recently.
Tell us about your current role at VIVA, and a little bit about how the Consortium works.
I am the Director of the Virtual Library of Virginia, or VIVA, which is the consortium of the 72 non-profit academic libraries in Virginia. Around half of our funding comes from the state, and the other half is from our member libraries. Our member libraries use VIVA to make shared collection acquisitions and enable a robust resource sharing program.
Please tell us a bit about yourself – where did you grow up, where and what did you study?
I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina. If you picture a gravel road, a pet beagle, and lots of apple orchards nearby, that would be about right. I went to Florida State for my undergraduate degree, which ended up being a triple major in three humanities-based areas. (My favorite thing was learning ancient Greek with creative writing as a close second.) I worked in the library at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection while I was an undergraduate, and the librarian there wisely suggested that I might enjoy being a librarian. I then went to UNC Chapel Hill to get my MLS and I later got a Master’s in Statistics from American University.
How did you enter the field of academic librarianship? What was your first role, and your path to your current position?
I started as the Public Services Librarian at Western Piedmont Community College; served as the Research & Data Services Librarian at UNC Charlotte; and held a variety of roles at American University, including Reference Librarian, Acquisitions Librarian, and Director of Information Delivery Services. I feel like my path set me up perfectly for my role at VIVA, since I had worked at a small community college, a large public doctoral, and a medium-sized private institution, and all of those institution types are represented in our consortium. I had also worked on the public-facing and technical services sides of the library, and I think this gives me a broader perspective of the kinds of support a library might need.
How has the type of work that VIVA is involved with evolved over time?
We have acquired more ebooks in recent years in a variety of acquisition models, and they require much more e-resource management attention then our ejournals and databases. Even packages that should be standard often turn out to the muddled, and I’m grateful that I get a lot of cataloging and knowledge base management help from our member libraries. We also added two new initiatives recently that broadened our scope. We joined the Open Textbook Network as a system member, and we are doing a Linked Data pilot with Zepheira and Atlas Systems. I love that our member libraries see VIVA as an opportunity to partner in ways beyond resource sharing and cooperative acquisition.
How do you think the roles of academic libraries and librarians have changed in recent years? Are there particular challenges you see for the future of scholarly communication?
More, more, more with less, less, less! I don’t think I know a librarian who is not doing at least two jobs at the same time. I think a key challenge for information providers and scholarly communication is keeping pace with the technology that scholars use in their daily lives. We might not be able to meet the level of magic that Google and Amazon provide, but we don’t want the comparison to be too painful and ideally we can integrate with those large-scale resources as well.
What trends do you find most significant or exciting?
I think the arena of open materials is fascinating, and I applaud those who are working hard to make the world’s knowledge more available. I also love seeing new ideas pop up in e-resource management, as creating better infrastructure for enabling access and discovery benefits everyone. That includes the area of usage statistics, which holds particular interest for me.
What is your favorite part of your work?
I love the negotiations, and if I didn’t I’d be in the wrong job! I also love that I get to help people every day, as a large part of my work is answering questions about our products and contracts from member libraries.
What drew you to accept a role on the RedLink Network Advisory Board?
Managing IP ranges is such a headache for libraries and vendors. A free service to help both entities maintain these more efficiently seems like such an excellent solution, and I’d love to help it be more successful.