From learning to be a locksmith to driving a forklift, Amy Tureen’s thirst for knowledge is limited only by time and imagination. Through her new position as head of the library liaison program in University Libraries, Tureen will be helping coordinate scholarly activities between the liaison librarians and students, faculty, staff, and researchers in academic units across campus. Most recently from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, Tureen also has held positions at California Lutheran University and the University of Calgary in Canada.
UNLV was a values match for me. The values and priorities that I hold dear are ones shared by the institution. UNLV has a national reputation for commitment to diversity and a similarly robust reputation for its commitment to serving first-generation college students. These are values that are very important to me both personally and professionally. Within the University Libraries there is a great deal of emphasis on the importance of mentoring and professional growth. I am very excited to work for an institution that is so dynamic and fast-growing. Even in the little time that I have been here, it is obvious that UNLV is a school on the move.
What is your role in the University Libraries?
I serve as the head of the library liaison program, which means I have the good fortune to oversee a team of librarians who serve as the primary contact between University Libraries and UNLV’s many academic departments, programs, schools, and colleges. While my schedule tends to vary from day to day, my most common duties are being an advocate for the liaison team, partnering with other library colleagues, and collaborating with our liaison librarians to ensure they have access to the resources and information they need to support each of their affiliated programs.
What is the biggest challenge in your field?
It is the nature of both my job and the jobs of the people on my team to keep a lot of plates spinning at once. We’re constantly interacting with different stakeholders, juggling lots of equally important priorities, and of course trying to both develop and implement long-term and short-term plans. It can certainly be a challenge, but it’s also what makes every day so different and interesting.
What about UNLV strikes you as different from other places you have worked?
UNLV seems to interact more with the surrounding community. The level of interaction between certain academic units and local businesses is impressive, particularly when it comes to interactions that enable students to get a realistic, hands-on experience of the working worlds they are studying to join. I hear more chatter about off-campus social events than I have heard at some of my previous jobs where “going into town” only occurred on weekends.
Tell us about a time in your life when you have been daring.
I don’t considering myself particularly daring, but I’ve been told my willingness to pull up stakes and move alone cross-country is something some people consider to be either bold or risky. In the past dozen years or so I’ve moved between California, Massachusetts, Georgia, Canada, and now Nevada. It’s not easy to start your life over away from everyone you know, but it is pretty invigorating. You end up imagining all sorts of new possibilities for yourself that you might not otherwise have considered.
Tell us about an object in your office that has significance for you and why.
In my office, squirreled away in various places, I have a few hockey pucks. They are mementos from the two years I volunteered as an off-ice official for the Southern Professional Hockey League. I helped record statistics like men on ice, goals, and penalties during home games for the Macon Mayhem (a minor league team). The pucks, which are from various games across both seasons, are dearly loved reminders of both the experience and the fellow members of my former off-ice officials crew. I really miss those guys.
Where did you grow up and what was that like?
I grew up in Palm Desert, a city in California’s Coachella Valley. When I was growing up there it was known mostly for golf, date farms, and being a popular destination for “snowbirds.” It was a pretty great place to grow up (even if the summers tended to be rather hot). When I visit the area now, I am amazed to see how much it has grown and how many more people live there year-round, rather than just during the winter.
Probably when, back during my English adjunct faculty days, a student in one of my classes told me that he had read every book in my class cover-to-cover, something he hadn’t done for a school reading assignment since middle school. He had always thought he wasn’t much of a “book guy,” but he was changing his mind on that assumption about himself. It was the first time I felt like I had made a genuine and significant impact on the life of a student. I still occasionally get emails from him asking for recommendations for new novels to try.
What do you do in your spare time?
Like most librarians, I spend a significant portion of my spare time reading. I also like to try and learn new skills that I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to learn in the course of my career. In recent years, for example, I completed a professional certificate in locksmithing, earned a forklift driving license, learned to play the violin, took a series of cooking and baking classes at Le Cordon Bleu, became a notary public, and had just begun to learn to play the bagpipes when I accepted the offer to join UNLV. I’m hoping I will be able to continue to pursue that last interest here in Vegas, although possibly my new neighbors would prefer I pick a different (and quieter) hobby.