Phyllis Self is Dean of Libraries at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. She has been employed at WIU since 2006. Director Self also served on the board of the former Alliance Library System (ALS) in 2008 as a member representing Academic Libraries, and as Board President beginning in 2010. She was elected to the RAILS Board for a three-year term and serves on the RAILS Executive Committee as an At-Large Member.
Why did you decide to run for the RAILS Board?
I believe that my past experience in school, public, academic, and special libraries in both large urban and rural communities provides me with a broad perspective to represent multi-type libraries and library staff, librarians, and library users.
What are your interests and background relating to Illinois library systems and libraries?
Today my interests are to support the needs of rural and other underserved/supported libraries, library users, and academic libraries as we redesign our Illinois library systems. I was a beginning librarian working in Moline Public Library when Illinois was designing the River Bend Library System. I have been fascinated with system work since those early days and proud of the work our state has accomplished as a leader in library development. As libraries and technologies change I recognize that our systems need to change as well. I hope to preserve that desire to recreate Illinois library systems with the same enthusiasm and creativity that our leaders had over forty years ago.
What do you envision for library systems in the future?
I envision library systems in the future to use more technology as a means to deliver our services. Our ability to transform data to new media and deliver that anytime and anywhere offers huge benefits to our users as well as to library operations. Our current funding models, remote locations, lack of equal access to broadband, etc. throughout the state restrict our services today. I hope we can design a collaborative model within the resources of our systems and with our professional associations to at least support the continuing education needs of our library community in FY2013 and beyond.
I continue to see our library systems being multi-type systems and believe that every citizen has access to information regardless of their location. In other words, service is not limited by funding borders within the state.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing RAILS and how can you help meet that challenge?
Making our presence known and to market RAILS to our communities and our state legislators. Libraries are more than providers of books and articles.
What are some of your outside interests?
Travel, knitting, spinning fiber, cooking, walking…and did I mention eclectic reading?
What else do you think is important for RAILS members and staff members to know about you?
I love libraries and I love to find ways to engage our communities with the wide variety of services librarians do and can provide. We need to continue to explore ways to better market what we do and why they need us.
Director Self’s blog is located at http://www.wiu.edu/library/dean/blog. She notes that she is inspired by this quotation from Mother Teresa: "We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do."