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Between the Lines: October Member Spotlight

Between the Lines: Member Spotlight, TLA Membership, TLA News

Michael (Mike) Pullin
Systems Librarian
The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth

What inspired you to become a librarian?
I guess you would say I backed in to becoming a librarian. Or, maybe someone tricked me. Not sure!

When I was in college, I was pursuing a computer science degree and working part-time for IT. Someone in IT recommended me for a full-time job in the library as a systems librarian. This was back in the 1980s, when there weren’t many libraries that had systems to manage. A few years later I was moving to Fort Worth to pursue a graduate degree. My boss at my current library knew the director at the institution I was moving to. He told me to look him up when I got to Fort Worth. I got hired part-time, then, when I stayed with the library as I continued to work on degrees, my director suggested that I get the MLS as well. You can never have too many degrees I guess, so I did. Being a systems librarian combines two areas that I really love, so my job is twice as good!

What is an innovative practice at your library/organization (current or former) that you’d like to share with others?
As part of our response to DEI, our Electronic Resources Librarian (Elizabeth Speer) began a diversity evaluation on our collection. She found that there was a huge lack of diversity in the collection, especially in medical images. Most images depicted light skin tones, which is problematic since our students will treat an ethnically diverse population. She created a new way for the library to communicate with faculty, staff, and vendors about our needs. Internal changes meant updated CD policies and procedures, which included diversity as purchasing and evaluation factors. Vendor communication included a letter of diversity expectations. The letter opened new avenues of communication with our representatives resulting in more relevant emails, contract negotiations more focused on known needs, and more open interactions and authentic relationships. Because of this, the collection’s level of diversity has grown. She has added three new databases at no additional cost to the library, added $15,000 in diverse e-book titles, negotiated diversity titles in place of annual access fees, and leveraged ILL services in place of automatic purchases which do not fit our new guidelines. We have also seen an increase in diverse images being published across platforms. Her work with vendors is more rewarding because we have common goals and visions for what the collection should look like moving forward.

If you could have dinner with three authors (living or dead), who would they be and why?
Theodor Geisel, C.S. Lewis, and the Sherman brothers.

Dr. Seuss – do I really have to explain?

C.S. Lewis was a brilliant man and his writings have challenged me for years. And, if he wanted to bring his friend, J.R.R. Tolkien, as his plus-one, that would be fine with me.

Richard and Robert Sherman did the musical score for the movie, Mary Poppins (and many others). So, if we can count them as authors, I would love to know the “true” story about how they created all of that wonderful music. I know part of their story (dramatized, for sure) is in “Saving Mr. Banks,” but I’d like to hear it straight from them.

Oh, and I forgot to ask: Is TLA paying for the dinner?

What are you reading right now?
When I got the request to provide my info, I wasn’t reading anything in particular. As I thought about the answer to the question above, I decided to go back and re-read C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. That and The Screwtape Letters are my two favorite Lewis books.

Next up is Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral by Phyllis Wheatley, whom I just recently read about. She is considered to be the first African-American author of a published book of poetry.

What is your most memorable Texas Library Association Experience?
I have enjoyed so much of my time at various TLA events and serving on various committees, but in 2014 I was on the Program Committee for that conference – thank you, Dr. Chandler! So, I got to meet Henry Winkler before his presentation. You always hope that the people you like, from TV or movies, are the same in-person as they are on the screen. He more than surpassed what I would have hoped for.

Anything else you would like to share?
Since I am over my word count, no!

“I am a TLA member because…”
As a professional librarian, I need to continue learning to keep my skills relevant. TLA is an organization of people that will challenge me and keep me growing professionally, which helps me to serve the patrons at my organization (students, faculty, staff, and other library staff).