In 1968 I was offered financial assistance if I earned an MSLS degree and returned to my alma mater, Erskine College, to become director of the library. Even though I was completing an MA in French at the University of South Carolina (USC) at the time, I jumped at the opportunity and applied to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
I completed my MSLS in 1969, worked at Erskine for five years, and followed my then college president to USC Coastal Carolina to become the library administrator there. The next year, I accepted a position at Francis Marion College (FMU) where my USC mentor was serving as the college’s first library director. When he retired in 1983, I was promoted to his position, and in 1994, the job title was changed to dean of the library.
In 2008, I retired after 25 years as FMU’s second library administrator. Among my favorite opportunities at FMU was for many years leading University 101 classes, initially to first semester freshmen (presidents wanted all chief administrators in classrooms) and later to pre-nursing freshmen.
Career highlights include a 1973 Council on Library Resources fellowship, president of the South Carolina Library Association (1983), founding co-chair of PASCAL-the Partnership Among South Carolina Academic Libraries, and 2002 Outstanding Academic Advisor at FMU. I served one year as president of UNC’s Beta Phi Mu chapter, four years as treasurer of the SCLA, and eight years as chair of the Marion (SC) County Library’s Board of Trustees.
An especially enlightening and broadening opportunity came via the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, for which I served on 33 visiting committees for affirmation or reaffirmation of accreditation, getting to look closely at academic libraries in most of the 11 states included in SACS.
I am currently a member of the Fairfield County (SC) Library Commission, member of the board of FOSCL (Friends of South Carolina Libraries) and chair their Awards Committee, treasurer for my church, SC Lions Advisory Committee member to MUSC’s Storm Eye Institute, and a candidate for second vice district governor of South Carolina Lions MD 32-D. I serve as finance chair for our county’s Democratic Party and am a life member of H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) where I serve as a road captain.
Chapel Hill opened doors for me that I neither foresaw nor solicited. These doors took me places that very few could anticipate or realize. Classmates helped me explore new concepts and cultivated seeds that were there, but not adequately fertilized, much less fully germinated. Instructors provided a wide array of the profession and challenged us to lifelong learning.
Later in my career I would describe our profession as maximalists, as opposed to some professions I found to be minimalists, particularly technologists. I became an advocate for team effort and MBWA, both of which worked in the environments in which I found myself. Working to model what I expected from colleagues succeeded more often than not, and helped me thrive working under seven different college and university presidents in three separate institutions. This country boy could not have dreamed of a more rewarding career, thanks to the UNC SILS experience.