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Meet New Head of Access & Collection Services Alvaro Quezada

by Chris Daley on 2024-05-24T14:08:00-07:00 in Library News | 0 Comments

A bearded man in a suit jacket

Please join us in welcoming Alvaro Quezada as the Library's new Head of Access and Collection Services! Alvaro is joining us from USC’s Science & Engineering Library where he was a subject librarian. Prior to that position, he was a library supervisor for access services at USC’s Norris Medical Library. He holds a master’s in management in library and information science from USC and a bachelor’s of science in criminal justice from CSULA. 

With his experience as both a staff member and a supervisor in access services and as a subject librarian for science and engineering, Alvaro has a unique blend of skills and experiences that will benefit ACS and Caltech Library as a whole. Alvaro started on Monday, May 20, and we're grateful that he found some time this week to answer some questions about his new role.

Congratulations on your new position as Head of Access & Collection Services, Alvaro! Could you give us an introduction to what the Access & Collection Services department traditionally handles in a library?

Thank you! The Access & Collection Services department in a library plays a critical role in managing and facilitating user access to library resources. Traditionally, this department encompasses several key functions. For starters, and the most visible to the library community, is Circulation. Circulation manages the lending of library materials and resources to library users and provides frontline support to users, answering questions related to library services, resources, and policies.

Another key function is Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery (ILL). This service allows users to request access to resources that are not owned by their institution. The ILL department will scour the country, if not the world, to provide the user access to the physical or electronic version of the resources they need.

Furthermore, Reserve Services and Collection Maintenance are also key functions of the department. Reserve Services manages the course reserves and other high-usage materials. Collection Maintenance ensures that the library’s physical collection is well-organized and accessible to all users.

Can you tell us a little about your previous work at USC?

Absolutely! At USC Libraries, I was a Science and Engineering Librarian as the subject liaison for mathematics, biology, earth sciences, physics, and astronomy. I provided research assistance to students, faculty, and researchers and designed and delivered instructional sessions on information literacy, research strategies, and effective use of library resources.

What are some lessons that you've learned in that position that you can bring to this new role? 

There are several lessons that I have learned as a Science and Engineering Librarian that are going to be extremely beneficial in my new role. Most notably, learning to adapt to new challenges and environments is crucial. Having made the transition from staff to faculty in this role amidst the pandemic meant I had to not only undertake the new responsibilities of the position but determine how to complete these deliverables remotely. This experience is going to be critical in learning how to undertake the responsibilities of a library administrator (a first for me) and familiarizing myself with the various systems and workflows. Another lesson that I will bring to my new role is project management. I quickly learned the nature of the librarian position is heavily projects based. Balancing multiple projects and meeting deadlines provided me with the experience to effectively prioritize tasks, manage time efficiently, and clearly define expectations, all of which are going to be essential in my new role.

What do you like about working in libraries? What inspired you to pursue a career as a library administrator?

There is an extensive list of the things I find gratifying about working in an academic library. At the top of the list is the intellectual vibrancy and engagement that permeates the campus. These vibes are incredibly contagious and powerful enough to infuse creativity and motivation. Working in an environment that offers this experience every time I arrive on campus is an incredible way to spend my day.

The second-best thing I enjoy about working in an academic library is the contribution we make to the academic and professional achievements to our community of students, faculty, staff, and researchers. Whether it is the access to the collection of our resources, our study spaces, research support, or instruction services, in one subtle way (or in some instances, not so subtle ways), we were indispensable to their overall success.

Pursuing a career as a library administrator stems from several key motivations. The first being the opportunity to obtain a position of leadership. I have always been passionate about leading teams, setting strategic directions, and managing projects and this position presented that opportunity. In addition, throughout my career, I have been fortunate to work with mentors who demonstrated the importance of effective library leadership. Due to this experience, I have had the opportunity to establish the essential skills necessary to pursue a path where I can foster an environment of empowerment and collaboration and demonstrate to colleagues the same fundamentals. 

What are some of your goals, hopes, or plans for the future of the Access & Collection Services department?

The goal for the future of the Access & Collection Services department is to continue reimagining our services, staying at the forefront of best practices, and evaluating emerging technologies to enhance the library experience for the Caltech community. In essence, to commit ourselves to the pursuit of academic excellence that is synonymous with the reputation of Caltech.

In terms of the wonderful folks in the Access & Collection Services department, my plans are to support their professional growth, and contribute to creating a positive and motivating atmosphere that promotes collaboration and appreciation of each contributing team member. 

We're looking forward to working with you, Alvaro!

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