Meet the new University Librarian at UCSB!

by Graduate Division Staff
Tuesday, March 27, 2018 3:24 PM

Kristen AntelmanKristin Antelman kicks off the spring quarter as our new University Librarian on April 1. She replaces Denise Stephens, who stepped down last year to accept the university librarian position at Washington University in St. Louis.

Before accepting her new role at UCSB, Kristin served as university librarian at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Before Caltech, she worked as an associate director of libraries at NC State University (2002–2014) and was an ARL Leadership Fellow (2007–2008). 

We caught up with Kristin to learn more about her career and what drew her to her new position at UCSB.

What drew you to accept the position of University Librarian here at UC Santa Barbara?

I spent most of my career in large public universities and was excited by the opportunity to return to one. As I learned more about UCSB, I saw that there was a strikingly positive, open, and collaborative spirit here. The core belief that crossing boundaries – whether academic or administrative – is what leads to a success offers the library much potential for creative growth going forward. 

Why did you choose to pursue this profession?

I actually was drawn to librarianship as a way to continue my prior engagement with Slavic studies in an academic context. Fortunately for me, that line of the profession was on the decline when I entered and technology librarianship was on the rise! 

Personally, what do you love most about libraries?

Libraries are incredibly diverse. But the common thread that you will see in all libraries – from the perspective of those who work in a library or those who use a library – is that our core mission is to support learning, and that each member of our community has equal access to the library's collections, spaces, and expertise. Those values of service to library users and to the broader society are a powerful and lasting lodestar that have helped guide us through quite a lot of change in recent times!

What are the essential skills/personality traits of a good librarian?

Librarianship is, proudly, a service profession. The best librarians are passionate about the why of libraries and not the how. They are creative people who can listen to students and researchers across all disciplines and translate what they hear into better library services for everyone. They care about advancing the mission of the broader institution. Librarianship is fortunate to be a profession that draws inherent strength from the fact that it attracts people with incredibly diverse backgrounds and prior experiences.

What inspires you to do what you do?

There are so many things, but I will share just a couple here. My background in bringing useful technologies into libraries inspired me in my first job and still does. The intersection of technology and libraries continues to offer transformative potential and not just for our on-campus users. Digitized library collections have opened up countless cultural heritage resources to scholars and the general public worldwide. At this point in my career, I am also inspired by the urgency of a shared challenge facing libraries, scholars, and future scholars in how published research is disseminated and accessed. We are at an inflection point where openness is in tension with persistent counterforces against it. I am confident that the academic ethos of building on the knowledge of others, ethically, and in the most efficient ways possible, will prevail in the end, but there is much work to be done to make sure it does!