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Dean of Libraries

Dean of Libraries
Dean of Libraries

Sheila Grant Johnson

Sheila Grant Johnson, Dean of Libraries
Sheila Grant Johnson, Dean of Libraries

Sheila Grant Johnson has served as Oklahoma State University Dean of Libraries since 2004. She holds the rank of Professor and the Clerico Family Chair for Library Excellence.

The OSU Library employs more than 200 faculty, staff and students who serve the needs of the campus community. In addition to the Edmon Low Library, other libraries on the OSU-Stillwater campus include the William E. Brock Memorial Center for Veterinary Health Sciences Library, the Mary L. Williams Education and Teaching Library in the College of Education, and the Cunningham Architecture Library.

During her tenure as Dean, Johnson has focused on bringing the historic and iconic Edmon Low Library into the future both in terms of facilities and services. She has overseen transformative renovations to the Edmon Low Library, many of which were funded through private donations. Under Johnson’s guidance the OSU Library is building a reputation for embracing new technology while maintaining a foundation of quality service. The OSU Library was an early adopter of several innovative search products. As a result, OSU served as one of two development partners for Summon, which powers Google-like searching across all Library collections.

Johnson received her associate’s degree from Amarillo Junior College, her B.A. in history is from Baylor University, and her master of library science degree is from the University of Texas, Austin.

Before coming to OSU in 1978, she served as map librarian at Texas A&M University. At OSU, Johnson served as assistant professor and head of the circulation department from 1978-81, and was head of the Biological Sciences Reference Division from 1981-88, attaining the rank of associate professor in 1986. In 1989 she was named assistant university librarian for reference, instruction and collections. In 2000, she became OSU Libraries assistant dean of for public services and collections.

Library Futures

In 2012, Johnson embarked on a multiyear exploration of the future of libraries. With the help of an outside consultant, the OSU Library staff and faculty researched and discussed factors influencing research libraries, the changing nature of academic work, and contemporary initiatives being pursued by members of the Association of Research Libraries. The result was the development of a plan to redesign workflows and reporting structures to create an organization that can not only efficently and effectively meet the needs of today's researchers, but also one that is flexible enough to adapt quickly as those needs evolve. The process is documented on the "Library Futures" blog.

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Leadership Expectations

As an organization, we’ve spent the last two years exploring new roles for the Library. As a result our employees anticipate their work will change and they will be asked to undertake new tasks. Everyone understands that change will be a constant going forward and the library’s leadership team must be able to articulate and lead that change. Associate deans and department heads are expected to join into that effort and to help library faculty and staff to transition smoothly.

When recruiting, I look for individuals who

  • inspire trust and who can effect significant organizational change in positive ways
  • work well with students, staff, faculty, administration, alums and donors
  • respect contributions of library staff and faculty
  • are able to create an atmosphere of enjoyment in the work that needs to be done so that employees look forward to their work
  • are interested in helping both staff and library faculty build their careers, gain new skills, and advance
  • are willing to make tough personnel decisions while retaining an empathy with individuals affected by those decisions
  • can be trusted to hold confidences while generally being open and transparent about operational processes, goals, and activities
  • have a broad understanding of library services and the new directions we need to take going forward
  • are advocates of traditional land-grant institution values and goals
  • are advocates of open access and fair-use
  • have a sense of humor
  • are familiar with social media
  • are willing to take leadership roles in state and national professional library organizations

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