Friday, June 22, 2012

Beacher Wiggins Interview

Beacher Wiggins Interview
April 3, 2012

For this week’s mailing, we decided that it would be interesting to interview Beacher Wiggins, the chief of the ABA Directorate. There have been interviews before, but most of them focus on specific programs here at LC, not so much on the man himself. So we came up with a list of questions that tells us more about Beacher Wiggins the person as well as his work here at the Library of Congress. I hope you find them interesting as well. (My biggest frustration is that we had to limit ourselves so much! Having found out he was assistant to Henriette Avram makes me want to ask a whole lot more just about that part of his time here.)

The questions were put together by the Editorial Team as a whole, but Carolyn Croons conducted the actual interview and put together the text below.

  1. You have worked at the Library for forty years.  What do you regard as one of the most interesting positions you have had during this time?

During the forty years that I have worked at the Library of Congress, the most interesting positions I held were Cataloging Director, Acquisitions & Bibliographic Access Director, and Special Assistant to Henriette Avram.  I could not identify just one!

  1. What is the biggest change you have experienced in your “lifetime” at LC?

The biggest change that I have experienced in a “lifetime” at the Library of Congress were the implementation of AACR2, the implementation of the ILS, and the reorganization of the former Acquisitions Directorate and Cataloging Directorate into one directorate, ABA—Acquisitions & Bibliographic Access Directorate.  Again, I could not single out just one!

  1. What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your current position as Director for ABA?

The biggest challenges that I have faced as Director for ABA are the implementation of RDA, the reorganization of ABA, and compensating for loss of staff in November resulting from the VSIP/VERA retirements. 

  1.  What do you see as the benefit of implementing RDA: Resource Description and Access?

Implementing RDA: Resource Description and Access will allow LC cataloging staff to create cataloging data that will not only be useful for LC and other libraries, but also for the non-library communities, such as the Semantic Web and linked-data communities.

5.   Now that you are in charge of acquisitions, what is the most intriguing part of acquisitions work?
The most intriguing part of acquisitions work is learning an area of technical services that I have not before given focus.  Helping to build the Library’s collections through acquisitions processes is very satisfying.  Since assuming responsibility for acquisitions, I and the acquisitions staff have had to deal with expending Library funds for the purchase of materials within a single year.  Originally, the Library had no limit on when the money would expire.  Several years ago, Congress changed the life of this money—referred to as GENPAC—to three years, and then to just one year.

  1. What are you doing to process electronic resources?

One thing that is being done to process electronic resources is having a pilot Electronic Resources Team in the US Anglo Division to process electronic resources.  Staff are rotated on to the team to help increase the number of staff with expertise in processing e-resources.  I am also a member of the Management Oversight Committee that has responsibility for addressing policy issues related harvesting and cataloging web resources.        

  1. Just as a point of curiosity, how many committees are you actually on? Here at LC and outside of LC?

The total number of committees that I am on within LC and outside the Library is ten or more.

  1. What brought you to a career in librarianship, and how did you first come to work at the Library?

What brought me to a career in librarianship was my high school getting its first certified Librarian when I was in the 11th grade.  She showed the students what a real library could be and how exciting it was to have access to a library.  I knew quickly that librarianship was for me.  When I went to Library School in 1970, my first professor of cataloging inspired me to love cataloging.  I came to work at the Library by luck.  I was advised to check out the Library of Congress, since I planned to settle in Washington.  So, while on travel for Christmas recess, I stopped by the Library and asked about employment.  I was offered a position in either acquisitions or cataloging.  I accepted the cataloging position.  I was hired and the rest was history.

  1. How should young people today prepare themselves for a career in librarianship/information work?

Here are my suggestions to young people today on how they should prepare themselves for the career in librarianship/information work:

·         Get a degree in Librarianship
·         Understand technology and social media
·         Know the principles of project management
·         Be able to multi-task
·         Be very flexible and be able to deal with all types of personalities
·         Be receptive to change

  1. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

            What I enjoy doing on a personal level are cooking, theater, movies, and going out to eat.

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[Source: LCCN]


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