Lafayette brings on new dean of libraries

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Anne Houston, Lafayette’s future dean of libraries. (Courtesy of Anne Houston).

Alex Doe

From working in the Tulane University library during Hurricane Katrina to her current position as director of teaching, learning and research at the Smith College Libraries in Massachusetts, Anne Houston boasts a 20-year career of librarian experience.  In July, she will begin her next chapter as Lafayette’s new dean of libraries.

Despite being months away from her official move-in, Houston has already begun to outline her goals for the college.

“Given Lafayette’s plan to grow the student body and make it more diverse, it is very important that our library spaces be welcoming and inclusive of all students,” she wrote in an email.  

Houston feels that while libraries offer a central place for students, they also need to feel accessible to everyone on campus.

“Libraries can be overwhelming to students, and we need to think about how we create a user experience that invites everyone in and facilitates their work,” she added.

Adapting to unusual situations is rather ordinary for Houston, who once worked as a cruise ship librarian, which she described in an email as “a great way to see the world, and also challenging! Because ships use satellite internet, the access is very slow, so we had to go back to traditional ways of doing research, such as using reference books.”

President Alison Byerly described her meeting with Houston as an enjoyable one.

“I interviewed her as part of the search process,” Byerly wrote in an email. “I really enjoyed meeting her and believe that she will bring great experience and perspective to this important role.”

The college community left a similarly positive imprint on Houston.

“When I visited Lafayette it was clear that students and faculty love the libraries, and the librarians and staff are incredibly dedicated to what they do, and go above and beyond,” she wrote.

This demonstrated passion and energy from the Lafayette community is what drew Houston to the college.

“I was attracted to the position at Lafayette because Lafayette’s libraries have such a great reputation for creativity and innovation,” she wrote. “Their work on digital scholarship and information literacy has been stellar and is well recognized – they are leaders in this area.”

Houston added that she has been involved with the American Library Association throughout her career and is dedicated to the work they do and what they believe in. 

“[The Association] does wonderful advocacy for principles of information access, intellectual freedom, and the freedom to read,” she wrote. “These principles could not be more important than they are right now.”

Houston looks forward to continuing the progress that the college’s libraries have built, and spreading the word about the libraries further, “so that we can build the resources we need to continue our good work into the future.”