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I Am MLA: J. Dale Prince, AHIP

Submitted by J. Dale Prince, AHIP; edited by JJ Pionke

Institution: John P. Isché Library, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center–New Orleans

Title: Director of Libraries

Brief description of responsibilities

I am responsible for the effective management and direction of the library, including operations, budget, and the supervision and coaching of library staff.

Why is MLA important to you?

MLA is important because it helps me keep up with what’s going on in the profession, it helps me look out for my interests as a medical librarian on a national level, it helps me give back to the profession, and last, but not least, it’s important for the connections it helps me make.

Why did you become a librarian?

I had worked in libraries since seventh grade because I loved books. As I grew older, I still loved to be with books, but the people in libraries and the service ethic became more important. I thought, “Since I’m here, I might as well be making a living from it.”

What was your first library job or first professional position?

My first library job was a one-hour-per-day assistant position in my middle school library. My first librarian position was circulation services librarian at the University of Maryland–Baltimore.

What is your advice to someone taking on a new role in leadership in MLA or other capacity?

Research the role, but be prepared to make mistakes. We all learn from mistakes.

What has been the most interesting project you have worked on?

It was long ago, but the system I was working in moved from DRA’s amber dumb terminals to a graphical user interface (GUI), Windows-based system. My job was to make sure the circulation staff from sixteen libraries moved smoothly through the seismic shake-up. I had access to a great team and, thankfully, a group of people eager to leave dumb terminals behind.

What do you consider to be the most pressing issues or trends in librarianship?

Emphasizing services over collections, people and their expertise over the basic provision of information.

Bucket list

Knitting a sweater that fits the person I am knitting it for. To be honest, though, if I’m doing a project that big, it’s for me. So, a sweater that fits me.

What do you do in your spare time?

I knit, collect liquor, and hang out with my little dog, Marley Bone.

Five words to describe you

Disorganized, punctual, collaborative, humorous, bearded.

What are you most proud of?

That time I turned a chocolate cake that fell apart into an ice cream bombe. I’m certain there are professional things I’m proud of, but, right now, it’s that bombe that comes to mind. Mmmm, bombe.

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