Meet LITA’s Presidents: Thomas Dowling, 2015-2016

One way LITA is celebrating its 50th anniversary is by profiling our presidents. Thomas Dowling was LITA President from 2015-2016.

Thomas Dowling Portrait

Current position: Director of Technologies, Z. Smith Reynolds Library, Wake Forest University

Position you held when serving as LITA President: The same

Three words that best describe you: Quiet, imaginative, inquisitive.

What was one of your most defining moments of your presidential year?
Bringing Jenny Levine on board as LITA’s Executive Director!

Why did you join LITA?
I joined LITA in the early 1990s when it far and away the most interesting division in ALA. There was a core of bright, far-seeing people in LITA who have since proven to be strong leaders both in the division and in ALA. Also, LITA always had the coolest toys.

Any advice for future LITA Leaders?
Jump into the deep end and start doing interesting stuff. LITA has always benefited from bottom-up efforts (the top-down planning is often a matter of trying to keep up with those interests).

What book do you recommend the most and why?
Riddley Walker, by Russell Hoban. It’s a different book every time I read it, but it always holds both grim warnings about what disasters humanity might bring about, and quiet hopes even in the darkest times.

What do you think is the greatest invention in your lifetime and why?
The Xerox Alto. The greatest change of my lifetime has been the rise of ubiquitous computing, which could not have happened without the realization that any computing device’s first job is to be comprehensible, easy, and engaging. As the first computer designed with a graphical interface and a desktop metaphor, the Alto was the dawn of modern computing; its concepts went directly into the original Apple Macintosh. The deeper idea that the computer is responsible for understanding the user, and not the other way around, continues to inform the design of devices today.