A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

In the Stacks: Librarian Jim Dooley

December 4, 2013

Sharing too much information might be a bad thing in the world of social media, but not when you’re in charge of collection services for a research university library.

A major part of Jim Dooley's job at the UC Merced Library is to make sure the campus community has access to a wide array of information and resources.

Dooley joined UC Merced in 2003 as the technical services librarian. Now, 10 years later, his role has expanded and he serves as head of the library’s collection services and is the campus archivist. The son of Irish immigrants, Dooley earned his master's of library and information science degree from Brigham Young University in 1993. Before his career in library services, he earned a master’s degree in drama from the University of Washington, a master's of fine arts degree in theater from the University of Massachusetts, and at one point spent 10 years at UC Riverside as a production supervisor in the campus’s theater department. His career switch came after his wife, Paula, earned a degree in library science and he followed suit.

Like many others who’ve joined the campus, one reason Dooley wanted to come to UC Merced was to be part of building a new research university. 

“I thought it would be my only chance to be a founding librarian at a research university, and it was an opportunity I wasn’t going to turn down,” he said.

Besides, he added, like the majority of students here, he was the first person in his family to go to college. Being part of UC Merced’s mission to increase educational attainment in an underserved region and helping to build a research university was compelling. 

Please describe what your job entails.

I’m responsible for acquiring information resources, within budgetary limits, in all formats — print books, e-books, journals, DVDs, etc. — in support of the teaching, research and service mission of the university. I also manage library technical services, which is responsible for the cataloging and physical processing of library materials as well as record maintenance in the library’s online public catalog, Melvyl.

As the university archivist, I collect and preserve materials of all kinds that document UC Merced’s history, and I’ve tried to collect as much as I can. Our archive includes university and student publications, oral histories, and materials documenting the founding of the university including maps and drawings of possible sites for the campus.

What are some of the most rewarding things about your job?

What I find most rewarding is being able to acquire, most of the time, information resources needed by faculty members to support teaching and research. I also find it rewarding to be able to support my library colleagues in their instruction and reference work. In my 10 years at UC Merced, I’ve been fortunate to work with a cohesive, professional group of librarians and library staff that is dedicated to providing high-quality service to the university community and the public.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your position?

The biggest challenge I have faced at UC Merced is trying to supply the needed information resources given the extreme budget challenges of the last several years. I strongly believe the library is essential to the university’s academic mission.

The 2020 Plan envisions a significantly increased number of students and faculty members with corresponding increases in academic programs requiring library support. The biggest question going forward is whether the library will receive the collection budget and staffing required to meet the campus’s growing needs.

What new projects or plans are you and your unit looking forward to in the coming year?

Within the library, technical services continues to work with our vendors on process improvements to make materials available faster. On the UC Libraries level, I will begin work on a team to develop strategies for the systemwide management of print books and journals. I expect to continue to publish and present at national conferences on issues in collection development and technical services.   

Tell us something about you that people on campus might not know.

My hobby, when I have time, is model railroading and railway history. I’ve always liked trains. At this point, an operating layout is a distant dream, but I have hope.