Circle of Friends: John A. Lehner

John A. LehnerThe ACRL Circle of Friends acknowledges the sustained generosity of those who have been Friends of ACRL for five or more years. The Friends of ACRL was created to provide a means for the association to take bold steps above and beyond its traditional member programs and services. Rapidly changing demographic, economic, and technological trends are presenting academic libraries and librarians with new challenges and competition that demand immediate solutions. The Friends of ACRL have responded to these new challenges and provided additional support that will enhance and ensure the relevance of our profession. To join or learn more about the Friends of ACRL, please visit the ACRL website.

John A. Lehner is Associate Dean for Personnel, Planning, and Library Systems  at the University of Houston in Houston, Texas,  served on the ACRL Board of Directors from 2008-12, and has been a Friend of ACRL since 2006.

1. Describe yourself in three words:  Collegial critical thinker.

2. Why do you support the Friends of ACRL? I support the Friends of ACRL because I want to ensure the ongoing and future vitality of ACRL. ACRL has given me tremendous opportunities for professional growth, as well as a terrific group of friends and colleagues.  ACRL has a committed membership and a superb staff. I hope it will continue to be the leading organization for academic librarians for a very long time.

3. What might someone be surprised to know about you?  I sort of overdid it in higher education. I hold 5 masters degrees and a J.D.

4. Since you’ve become a member of ACRL, tell us about someone who influenced you in some way? My boss, Dana C. Rooks, has been an important influence on me. Dana who, incidentally, served on the ACRL Board of Directors in years past, recruited me to the University of Houston Libraries 15 years ago. I initially declined the job offer from UH, but Dana spent an hour and half on the phone with me one evening, persuading me to come to UH and work for her. I gave in to her arguments and have since conceded to her that she was right, UH is where I was meant to be. Dana’s unflagging commitment to the UH Libraries and her passion for librarianship energize and inspire me every single day at work.

5. What do you hope ACRL will achieve in the near future (or the long term)? I’m really interested in seeing where ACRL’s project, Assessment in Action: Academic Libraries and Student Success, takes us. I’m very hopeful that it will result in building the knowledge base in our profession and advancing the literature about libraries and student success.

6. In your opinion, what is the most important work that ACRL does? I think ACRL’s most important work is supporting and developing academic librarians. ACRL has a key role not just in helping us be effective librarians, but in helping us to be contributing and influential participants in the larger higher education enterprise.