Meet the Candidates: Thomas (Tom) Abbott

Editor’s Note: The ACRL Member of the Week feature is taking a brief hiatus so we can profile the 2013 ACRL Board of Directors candidates. We’ll feature one candidate each weekday from March 7 – 18. Complete details on candidates for ACRL offices are available on the election website. Make sure to vote for the candidates of your choice starting March 19. Member of the Week will return on March 25.

Thomas (Tom) AbbottThomas (Tom) Abbott is Dean of Libraries and Distance Learning at the University of Maine at Augusta in Augusta, Maine. Tom has been an ACRL member since 1988 and is a 2013 candidate for the ACRL Board of Directors as Councilor.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Intuitive, Entrepreneurial, Enthusiastic.

2. What are you reading right now? Let’s see: yesterday after dinner I checked the Internet for the latest news and weather, saw a note and photo from our son and granddaughter on Facebook, watched a “how to” video about installing a radio in my tractor cab – the hole for the radio is there and my son gave me an old car radio so now it’s a project. On the bedside table I switch between escapism like James Patterson and more meaty items like Ken Follett’s Winter of the World which I am about halfway through.

3. Describe ACRL in three words: Members, Professional, Diversity.

4. Why do you value most about ACRL? ACRL has provided me with the opportunity to work with and learn from the greater academic library community, allowing me to be a more effective advocate for my library and the university libraries in Maine and New England.

5. What do you, as an academic librarian, contribute to your campus? I wear three hats at my university: Libraries, Distance Learning, and Region Accreditation Head. As such my role is diverse and ever interesting. I support the provost and academic deans and their faculty in all things distance learning. I supervise an instructional support team. I work with our president on accreditation matters including guiding the campus process for our self-studies and also represent her in NEASC activities as our campus liaison to the organization.

This level of campus-wide engagement and the working relationships it develops, provides a platform for me to present library plans, advocate for changes and influence curricular discussions as they may relate to library integration.  My campus connections also put me at the Finance and Budget table – important this year as we are again being forced to reduce our budgets due to less than desired state subsidies.  All in all, I like to think I serve as a “rudder” for the university always steering the ship toward or through the library and all it does for students and faculty.

6. In your own words: In the best of all worlds academic librarians are change agents and good managers of people and processes. They (we) stay on top of emerging trends, sort out the important stuff from the fads and then figure out how to make it all work with the budgets we have. We speak up at the right times, influence the academic processes and maintain good relationships with faculty AND the administration. Finally, we support and listen to our employees so they can become an active part of a process toward continuous improvement.