When Cory Tucker isn’t being chased by bulls, he’s busy chasing down the best library resources for UNLV’s students, faculty, and staff in his job as head of University Libraries’ continuing resources & collections.
Lied Library was a year old at the time and it was (and still is) a cutting-edge facility. I was hired as the business librarian, which was my dream job at the time, since I have a bachelor’s degree in finance. The job encompassed a variety of duties that were of significant interest to me including reference, instruction, and collection development. The library staff was a huge selling point as well. Plus, I had always dreamed of moving out to the western United States, so it was the total package.
Where else have you worked?
I previously worked as a distance-learning librarian at the University of South Florida. Before entering the library world, I worked for the Kentucky Revenue Cabinet and J. Peterman — made famous by Seinfeld.
How did you become interested in developing collections for libraries?
Since I have a business background, the budgeting aspect was very attractive. Developing collections requires working with other library staff covering all disciplines, so that makes it all the more interesting. Another aspect I truly enjoy is assessment. Since the collection budget consists of several million dollars, we do a lot of assessment to ensure that funds are spent on resources that are the most appropriate for the curricular and research needs of the university.
How do you discover which resources faculty need?
The key people who provide information on resource needs for teaching and research are our liaison librarians. The liaisons do a fantastic job of networking with faculty and then communicating the curricular and research needs directly to me or through the libraries’ Collections Committee.
Biggest misconception about your job…
Two misconceptions come to mind. The first deals with the collections budget. There is a perception that we have a lot of money and can buy everything, which we cannot. Most of the collections budget is tied up in resources that are a recurring cost, such as subscriptions, and subject to inflation. So each year we have to receive additional funds to keep the resources we currently have and it makes it difficult to add subscriptions for new resources.
Secondly, there is a misconception that resources, such as journals, do not cost very much. Unfortunately, when the library subscribes to a journal or an online database, for example, we are charged according to the university’s full-time enrollment figures. There are journals and databases that cost as much as a new Porsche.
How have you seen libraries change?
The biggest change is the transition from print to electronic. When I first started in libraries, most of our books and journals were in print. Today, many of our books are online and about 96 percent of our journals are online.
How has your view of the Health Sciences Library evolved since you’ve served as the interim director this year?
My role involves oversight of the Health Sciences Library (HSL) spaces, staff, collection, services, etc. (That) library has two locations, so managing two spaces has been a big challenge, but luckily we have a tremendous staff which makes managing each location less stressful.
The HSL is a bit different from the main library in that users have very specific needs. The resources and services the library provides are much more focused and unique. Since the HSL and the School of Medicine are so new, each day is a learning experience, but faculty and staff from both have done a great job of collaborating.
What makes UNLV’s libraries unique?
We have excellent staff members who truly care about our students and faculty, and are very customer-focused. The culture of the UNLV Libraries is innovation, so we are always trying new things, trying to be on the cutting edge. I think the staff does a great job of anticipating needs, new trends, etc., and we attempt to evolve to meet these new challenges.
Tell us about your recent presentation in Malaysia.
I co-presented at the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions World Congress on new perspectives in assessing library collections. This presentation focused on how we utilize new technologies and collaborate with vendors and publishers to make the process of collecting usage statistics and distributing the statistics more effective and efficient.
The most impactful thing I learned was that libraries worldwide are dealing with many of the same issues and the library profession does a great job of collaborating and working together to solve problems. I also learned the UNLV University Libraries has a great reputation in the global library field.
Last show you binge-watched…
I don't watch too much TV, but the last show I binge-watched was Arrested Development. The cast is fantastic and the show is hilarious. I really enjoyed the fast-paced, quick-witted aspect of the show.
Something surprising about you…
I participated in the San Fermin festival (running of the bulls) in Pamplona, Spain. It was a huge adrenaline rush and luckily I came out unscathed. It was an intense experience!