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Dean of Libraries

Dean of Libraries
Dean of Libraries

Sheila Grant Johnson

Sheila Grant Johnson, Dean of Libraries
Sheila Grant Johnson, Dean of Libraries

Sheila Grant Johnson has served as Oklahoma State University Dean of Libraries since 2004. She holds the rank of Professor and the Clerico Family Chair for Library Excellence.

The OSU Library employs more than 200 faculty, staff and students who serve the needs of the campus community. In addition to the Edmon Low Library, other libraries on the OSU-Stillwater campus include the William E. Brock Memorial Center for Veterinary Health Sciences Library, the Mary L. Williams Education and Teaching Library in the College of Education, and the Cunningham Architecture Library.

During her tenure as Dean, Johnson has focused on bringing the historic and iconic Edmon Low Library into the future both in terms of facilities and services. She has overseen transformative renovations to the Edmon Low Library, many of which were funded through private donations. Under Johnson’s guidance the OSU Library is building a reputation for embracing new technology while maintaining a foundation of quality service. The OSU Library was an early adopter of several innovative search products. As a result, OSU served as one of two development partners for Summon, which powers Google-like searching across all Library collections.

Johnson received her associate’s degree from Amarillo Junior College, her B.A. in history is from Baylor University, and her master of library science degree is from the University of Texas, Austin.

Before coming to OSU in 1978, she served as map librarian at Texas A&M University. At OSU, Johnson served as assistant professor and head of the circulation department from 1978-81, and was head of the Biological Sciences Reference Division from 1981-88, attaining the rank of associate professor in 1986. In 1989 she was named assistant university librarian for reference, instruction and collections. In 2000, she became OSU Libraries assistant dean of for public services and collections.

Library Futures

In 2012, Johnson embarked on a multiyear exploration of the future of libraries. With the help of an outside consultant, the OSU Library staff and faculty researched and discussed factors influencing research libraries, the changing nature of academic work, and contemporary initiatives being pursued by members of the Association of Research Libraries. The result was the development of a plan to redesign workflows and reporting structures to create an organization that can not only efficently and effectively meet the needs of today's researchers, but also one that is flexible enough to adapt quickly as those needs evolve. The process is documented on the "Library Futures" blog.

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Leadership Expectations

The Oklahoma State University Library seeks creative personnel with a passion for both learning and teaching who are eager to drive their own projects, innovate, and take on challenges. We have spent the last several years involving all employees in the exploration of new roles for the library within the university. As a result, most of our employees’ jobs and responsibilities have changed, and they understand change will be a constant going forward. The library’s leadership team must be able to articulate and lead that change. Associate deans, department heads, and initiative directors are expected to join that effort and help library faculty and staff transition smoothly by embracing, advocating for and communicating about change.

When recruiting individuals to join our leadership team, I look for individuals who:

  • inspire trust
  • can effect organizational change in positive ways
  • work well with students, staff, faculty, administration, alums, and donors
  • value diversity and inclusiveness and actively support their role in all areas of the library
  • respect contributions from library staff and faculty, board members and the OSU community
  • create an atmosphere of enjoyment in the work to be done so employees look forward to their work
  • are interested in helping all library personnel build careers, gain new skills, and advance
  • are willing to make tough personnel decisions while retaining an empathy with individuals affected by those decisions
  • can be trusted to hold confidences while generally being open and transparent about operational processes, goals, and activities
  • have a broad understanding of library services and the new directions we need to take going forward
  • embrace traditional land-grant institution values and goals
  • are advocates of open access and fair-use
  • have a sense of humor
  • are familiar with social media
  • are willing to take leadership roles in state and national professional organizations supporting the practice of librarianship in a technology rich environment
  • are excited about the future of libraries

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