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Monday, October 26, 1998

Michael McLane, New Director Blackwell Library

SALISBURY, MD--A career library professional with over 30 years experience in education is the new director of Salisbury State University═s Blackwell Library.

Michael J. McLane, 55, who has his Master of Library Science and Master of Science in higher education administration, both from Syracuse University, comes to SSU from the State University of New York at Oswego. There he was its director of libraries and learning resources.

Located on Lake Ontario, SUNY Oswego is bigger than SSU, with some 8,000 students.

McLane said one of the reasons he was attracted to Salisbury State was because of plans to build a new library here and the potential for growth in library services. "The role of the library should be that of the intellectual center of the campus ... the place to turn to for information for the academic portion of life, and, to a certain extent, other parts of our life," he said. To do this, the library staff needs to be "interested in the campus as a whole and not just the library." He wants ˝toraise the profile of the libraryţ by having his staff "become more visible on campus."

"Some people think that technology will replace librarians or make libraries cheaper to operate," he said. Not so. "The college library staff will be even more important in the years ahead," he believes, because "the library staff has to assist and teach people to use the technology to find appropriate information."

McLane offers a reality check to futurists who predict databases and electronic links will economically replace the traditional college or community library. "Blackwell makes available many good databases--and we are paying for them," he said. "The good stuff, someone is paying for.

"Then someone has to interpret, assist and make available the databases." And economically, it doesn═t make sense to print out a book (off a computer) every time someone wants a copy, as some have suggested, he said, when a single copy in the stacks could be used over and over again.

"The Internet might be useful for journals, indexes and abstracts, but books will be around for a long time,ţ he said.˝Look at the explosion in the growth of bookstores."

One hidden expense of the computer revolution has been the reams of computer paper libraries are currently using, he added. "No one seems think someone has to pay for that paper."

McLane would like to beef up the book collections at SSU. Politely calling them "somewhat inadequate," he said they are smaller and older than what they should be.

Although McLane brings an admittedly humanistic philosophy to library management (his bachelor═s is in history and political science), he wrote several successful grants at Oswego related to library automation, coordination, satellite receiving and video distribution, joint databases and distance learning.

He served on over 30 different academic committees, chairing two on technology. He was also active with the SUNY Librarians Association and Council of Library Directors.

He and his wife, Elizabeth, have three grown children, two in this area: his son teaches in Alexandria, VA; his younger daughter works for the Refugee and Immigration Office of the U.S. Catholic Conference in Washington, D.C. His older daughter is a post-doctoral fellow in literature at the University of Chicago.


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