This is the third installment in what will be a recurring series of posts introducing readers to the staff of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. In this post we posit questions to Beth Whittaker, Assistant Dean for Distinctive Collections and Director of Spencer Research Library.
Beth M. Whittaker
Where are you from?
I grew up in Overland Park, KS, attended KU, and have lived several different places before returning to Lawrence.
What does your job at Spencer entail?
My position description says I “provide leadership, vision, and direction for the distinctive collections programs, services, and resources of the Libraries, enhancing and promoting the unique research, teaching, and learning opportunities these collections offer.”
Essentially I am here to help my colleagues get what they need to make our collections available for students, scholars, and the public. I set priorities and help get exciting initiatives off the ground.
How did you come to work in special collections and archives?
I actually began working in special collections as a student assistant here at the Spencer over twenty years ago. I came in one day to examine a manuscript for my master’s thesis, and I saw a job announcement. Within a year, I decided that special collections libraries were where I wanted to be. I’ve been fortunate enough to work in several different libraries before returning to where it all began, the Kenneth Spencer Research Library!
What part of your job do you like best?
I get to tell the story of the Spencer Library every day, in some way or another. I love talking to people; no one who knows me would argue with that!
What are your favorite pastimes outside of work?
I love being outdoors, and am an enthusiastic do-it-yourselfer around the house. I spend most of my time outside of work with my family. I’m also very excited when I can get somewhere on my new scooter.
What piece of advice would you offer a researcher walking into Spencer Research Library for the first time?
Probably what I’m sure most of my colleagues have said in previous posts: we are here to help. I remember what it’s like the first time you walk into a research library like this. These are YOUR collections as much as they are ours.
Beth M. Whittaker
Assistant Dean for Distinctive Collections
Director of Spencer Research Library