Associate Director of Libraries at Oberlin College and SLIS Alum Alan Boyd Retires After 25 Years of Service

Alan Boyd began the University of Iowa SLIS program in 1977. At the time, he and his cohorts had a sense that the program was growing and beginning to take on the challenges of working in the burgeoning field of information technology. The SLIS program was future-casting and working to prepare students for a changing career field and new technologies. Alan noted that, “The SLIS modeled the building of community when confronting growth and change; lessons that stuck with me in my career.”

In 1981 Alan began his career at the Oberlin College Library in Oberlin, Ohio in the cataloging department. Before the advent of digital publications, Alan created and published a quarterly print loose-leaf service that provided hundreds of libraries with a tool for frontline catalogers confronting what was then considered the exciting and bewildering world of Library of Congress rule interpretations.

During his 35 years at the college, he had the great opportunity to collaborate and lead in a liberal arts college library as it confronted the information revolution. He was responsible for launching the Oberlin card catalog conversion project in the 1980s. Many of the historical titles in the collection were not yet available in the growing OCLC database. With help from the staff and student assistants, Oberlin libraries added 20,000 new records and converted over 300,000 catalog records to digital format, increasing access and engagement with the collections.

Alan’s professional focus at Oberlin began to shift to digital collections as the technology became available in the 1990s and beyond. He spearheaded digitization projects with colleagues in order to create a future-ready library. The digital collections helped to leverage the renowned special collections within Oberlin libraries. “It was exciting to work over a couple of decades with Oberlin's librarians who were digital scholarship leaders in Ohio and nationwide, integrating digital collections projects into faculty and student research and teaching.” Alan was able to secure over $1.3 million in resources over the course of the past decade to support funding for digital initiatives, and has shown leadership in the field through his publication of several articles and presentations.

Alan’s leadership and expertise has been an invaluable resource for the Oberlin library community for decades. His duties ranged from leading library automation, budget oversight, personnel and facilities management, collection development of Russian and German materials, and supervision of the library’s technical services operations. He also served as the interim and acting Director of Libraries on several occasions. While he's retired now, Alan was recently acting as a transition consultant for Oberlin College Libraries where they have hired a new director and are undergoing a staff reorganization.