Meet LITA’s Presidents: Karen Starr, 2010-2011

One way LITA is celebrating its 50th anniversary is by profiling our presidents. Karen Starr was LITA President from 2010-2011.

Current position: Retired

Position you held when serving as LITA President: Nevada Deputy State Librarian

Three words that best describe you: Change, Diversity, Collaboration

What was one of your most defining moments of your presidential year?
The LITA members’ commitment to excellence in programs and projects stands out on an association and national level. In the 2000’s, it was not always clear what the next big shift in technology would be. The Top Technology Trends panel at annual conference is a venue where those ideas and concepts can be explored with conference participants.  Walking into the program and watching the successful interaction between the panel members and the audience stands out.

Why did you join LITA?
The 1970s and 1980s were a time when a group of us in Oregon academic libraries worked at the cutting and bleeding edge of information technology, including co-founding the Online Northwest conference in 1984. As an ALA Library Fellow (1989-90), I taught online information at the Norwegian National Library School in Oslo, the year the Berlin Wall came down. While in Norway, I applied for and was hired as a networking consultant at the Idaho State Library (ISL) joining the staff in August 1990. We implemented the Internet in Idaho public libraries in 1995. The state library encouraged participation at the national level on the part of its staff. I looked at ALA’s divisions and decided to volunteer for the LITA International Relations Committee. I was appointed to the committee in 1992. LITA creates a supportive environment for thinking outside the box, asking why not, long term innovation, and professionalism.

Any advice for future LITA Leaders?
The viability of libraries has been challenged for the last decade, and will continue to be challenged as a viable institution in the future. It is not all about technology. It is also about how the library as an institution survives as a core player in the American democracy.

Who has been the most influential person in your life and why?
Rodney K. Waldron was director of the Oregon State University Library from 1954 to 1984. He was a World War II veteran and a person who was politically savvy, street smart, and a visionary. He understood technology and supported its use and implementation in libraries before it was commonplace. As a leader, he left a lasting impact on Pacific Northwest libraries and library staff. I worked for him for eight years. He assigned me to the Library and Information Retrieval Services (LIRS) office in 1978 which was responsible for doing online searches for faculty and graduate students. That assignment made my career in the library field and lead to opportunities to make a difference.

What professional accomplishment are you most proud of and why?
Being involved in rolling out Internet access in the early 1990s was a challenge and an opportunity. The American Library Association published The Cybrarian’s Manual in 1997. Several us contributed chapters to the book including one I wrote entitled “The American Public, the Public Library, and the Internet; an Ever-Evolving Partnership.” It is 20 years later and that partnership continues to evolve with even more opportunities. Being in on the groundwork for Internet access and seeing it evolve has been a rewarding experience.