One way LITA is celebrating its 50th anniversary is by profiling our presidents. Rachel Vacek was LITA President from 2014-2015.
Current position: Head of Design & Discovery, University of Michigan Library
Position you held when serving as LITA President: Head of Web Services, University of Houston Libraries
Three words that best describe you: Passionate, Determined, Collaborative
What was one of your most defining moments of your presidential year?
It was a year of transition. The LITA Executive Director, after a 24 year career with ALA, announced her retirement, and in a very short amount of time I assembled a search committee to find a new Executive Director who could lead us into an exciting new future. I am proud of the work we accomplished and that I was still able to move forward new initiatives while managing an intense situation. Additionally, I am also very proud of the Annual Report that I put together at the end of my term. At a time of so much financial and strategic uncertainty, and with the impending change in leadership, I wanted to create a report that highlighted the work being done in the association and showcase our most engaged members, LITA-sponsored Emerging Leaders, Forum keynote speakers, and award winners. LITA is an amazing organization because of its members and their passion and dedication. I couldn’t be prouder.
Why did you join LITA?
I joined LITA because it felt like the right thing to do. There were multiple times when I felt embraced by LITA members by participating in interest groups, teaching pre-conferences, hanging out at Happy Hours, and attending Forums. I discovered ample networking opportunities and around every corner there always seemed to be a way to get involved. I attended as many LITA programs at Annual and Midwinter conferences as I could, and in doing so, ran into the same crowds of people over and over again. Colleagues at other institutions that were managing the same applications and trying to find solutions to the same challenges I was experiencing in my own job. We had so much in common. I now have an extensive network of close friends and trusted colleagues across the country, thanks to LITA.
Any advice for future LITA Leaders?
Don’t underestimate the power of networking at LITA programmatic and social events. You will find collaborators, mentors, and grow friendships with people that will want to help advance you in your career. If you have a passion to learn, aren’t afraid of making mistakes, and want to give back to an organization that feels like your tribe, then jump in, ask questions, volunteer, take risks, network, and expand your world of opportunities.
What do you think is the greatest invention in your lifetime and why?
So this isn’t the greatest invention in my lifetime, but it’s one that I am certainly enjoying. I want to talk about “legacy” board games and the rise of experiential gaming. Legacy games are board games that change over time based on the outcome of each game and the various choices made by players. The game adapts to how well or how poorly you play the game. There might be rules that have players make physical changes to the board game by writing on the board or cards, placing stickers over the board, destroy components, or opening sealed boxes to add additional components. These types of narrative games bring people together and enables the players to become their characters and live through the story. It encourage shared, unique experiences, considerably more than your typical board game, and is a trend that is taking the board gaming hobby by storm. As a UX librarian, I’m super excited about this new direction in gaming.
If you could give your 18 year old self a piece of advice what would it be?
Be the change that you wish to see in the world.