Since 1952

Speaker Profile: In His Own Words – Chris Vinson

Chris Vinson spoke on the Open Parks Network on Monday, August 10 at a program hosted by SLA Georgia, Society of Georgia Archivists (SGA) and the Metro-Atlanta Library Association. Get to know more about Chris:


1. How long have you been a librarian at your current employer?

I’ve been a librarian at Clemson University Libraries for four years, since May 2011.

2. What is your title and what are you main job responsibilities?

I serve as the Head of Library Technology at Clemson University Libraries. My primary responsibility is to manage the Library Technology department, composed of 12 full-time staff who work in digital scholarship, programming & web development, and systems administration and technology support. The department also includes an army of student assistants who provide equipment support and scanning and metadata services. Another job responsibility is to serve as the principal investigator on a number of grants that support national efforts such as the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and the Open Parks Network. I promote and advocate for these projects, and other Clemson initiatives, at national workshops and conferences.


3. What other libraries have you worked in and what were some of your major achievements there?

Before arriving at Clemson, I was the Systems Librarian at the College of Charleston Libraries in Charleston, SC for nearly three years. My major achievements there included the development and launch of the Lowcountry Digital Library, a complete redesign of the Libraries’ web site and catalog, and establishing a new systems department.

Prior to my position at the College of Charleston, I worked as the Project Coordinator for the South Carolina Digital Library (SCDL), which was a joint position funded by the University of South Carolina and the Partnership Among South Carolina Academic Libraries, a statewide consortium. My major achievements in that role included the development of the SCDL’s first dynamic web site, a major growth in the number of partners participating in the project, securing LSTA grant funding, and writing the SCDL’s first business plan.


4. Why did you become a librarian? 

I gained an interest in and appreciation for librarianship during my time as student assistant at Winthrop University Library. As a humanities undergraduate student, librarianship seemed to be a natural area to move into after graduation. I originally wanted to be a reference librarian, but after securing an internship in graduate school working with digital libraries, I knew I wanted to work with digital projects and technology in libraries. I now love my work and try to translate that passion for libraries and technology into effective, positive change for my colleagues, my profession, and myself.


5. What are the challenges you see facing information professionals and special libraries today?

I believe figuring out how to deal with big data is the most imminent challenge for information professionals today. So much data is being produced from a variety of means that it is difficult to capture, describe, and preserve it all.


6. What ideas do you have for overcoming these challenges?

I’m still trying to figure this out, but I think it will require that we recognize it’s impossible to capture all the data out there, and we should focus on the best strategies for curating what data helps us accomplish our professional or institutional goals.


7. What advice would you give new entrants to our profession?

This profession requires that everyone be flexible in what they do—there are many opportunities to grow and be successful, but you must be willing to try new things, keep an open mind, and take risks. The more challenging the work, the more rewarding.


8. When you’re not at work, what are you interests and hobbies?

I spend my free time hiking the mountains around Greenville, exercising, reading, watching Netflix, and spending time with friends.

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