Meet a Member

K. T. Vaughan

VLA President

What is your current position and employer?

Library Director at Washington and Lee University

When did you first know that you wanted to work in the library field?

In my senior year of college, I was a biology major specializing in botany. For my thesis, I was spending a lot of time in the botany library, and discovered that I was weirdly good at tracking down literature in all languages relevant to my tiny plant family of interest. I was also volunteering in the herbarium - essentially a "library" of dried and mounted plant specimens - and loved the work of organizing, shelving, and maintaining the collection. I had spent the previous summer working part-time as a library student assistant, but that was just a job. At the end of it my boss said he'd be happy to hire me back if I needed a job after graduation, and that got me thinking about libraries as an actual career. I didn't take him up on it until a year after graduating and have been in libraries ever since.

What is your favorite part of librarianship?

That moment when you've helped someone find a piece of information that makes everything else make sense. I also really love buying books with someone else's money!

What was your first library or library-related job?

In the summer between my junior and senior years of college, I worked as the summer student assistant at the Duke Biological and Environmental Science Library with David Talbert. He was wonderful.

What projects or programs are you currently working on at your library?

As the library director, I have an interest in everything that's going on. It is summer as I am writing this, so my projects are focused on things like resetting the library for the academic year (hopefully) post-pandemic, including figuring out hours, furniture replacement, access policies, etc; wrapping up the end of the fiscal year things like sending thank you letters to donors and figuring out the budget for 2021/22; personnel issues including hiring two new people and shepherding another through the promotion process; managing our annual strategic planning process and keeping an eye on the development of our anti-racism plan; picking up a new-to-me liaison area (education) for the fall; implementing structural changes as part of a light reorganization / organizational development process; keeping up with my service (including to VLA!) and scholarship, and taking some much-needed vacation.

What issue or topic in librarianship are you most interested in?

At the moment I'm deep into the topic of justice in libraries, focusing on anti-racism and accessibility in library hiring, space and service design, collection management, and leadership behaviors.

Why are you a member of VLA and what is the most important reason to you for being a member of VLA?

I love the breadth of opportunities and connections that VLA offers me in a manageable space - I have been able to build relationships with librarians in all sorts of different types of libraries across the state. We're diverse, active, and relatively close to each other. I like that the association is large enough that there's always something interesting going on, but small enough that a person can get involved easily without being overwhelmed.

If you have any questions for VLA President-Elect K. T. Vaughan contact her at [email protected]