Few AU students are familiar with Patricia Wand, but as the university’s librarian for the past 16 years, she has changed the library’s operations by implementing new programs and fostering a spirit of teamwork.
Working behind the scenes on the library’s first floor, Wand has overseen the day-to-day operations of the library. Her tenure here will end at the close of this semester when she switches jobs to work as a university librarian in the United Arab Emirates.
Born on a farm in Oregon, Wand attended Seattle University majoring in history. After graduating, Wand went on to serve as a volunteer for the Peace Corps in Buesaco, Colombia, a tiny village of around 2,000 people. She said her experience in the Peace Corps affected her life forever.
In Colombia, she taught school, focusing on teaching her pupils nutrition, sanitation, public health, cooking and general domestic skills. She also said she herself learned many lessons through her stay in Colombia, and hopes to have a similar international experience in the UAE.
“I learned to respect and love another culture and people who live in another culture. It was a time of expanding my scope and perspective on the world,” Wand said.
Besides learning to appreciate different cultures, Wand remembers that she “learned the way we do things in the United States is not necessarily the best way; whatever it is, there are many ways to accomplish this. United States society does it sometimes the best way, sometimes not the best way.”
After returning to the States from Colombia, Wand went on to attend graduate school at the Antioch Graduate School in Washington D.C., receiving a master’s in teaching. She went on to live in the Midwest and attended the University of Michigan to earn her A.M.L.S. Her first librarian job was at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio.
After her time in the Midwest, she moved to New York City and lived there for 11 years, beginning her work at the Staten Island Community College as a reference librarian and eventually moving to Columbia University as the head of access services.
After her time in New York, Wand moved back to her home state to become an assistant librarian at the University of Oregon. One of her main achievements while there was coordinating activities among different branch libraries. Since the University of Oregon is such a large school, the school had more then one library on campus and each one had different policies. Wand changed this system to a more simplified one where all the libraries shared a similar policy.
In 1989, she came to AU as the University Librarian, which meant she was responsible for managing a library that serves 12,000 students and faculty and employs 20 librarians, 53 full-time support staff and 200 part-time student assistants, according to her resume.
Wand remembers three very important achievements in her tenure as university librarian. Purchasing the one-millionth volume for the AU library was “a great accomplishment,” she said. She also is proud to have expanded library instructional programs that teach students how to research and cite sources for papers or projects.
Wand has also pushed library staff to work as a team. She said she believes making a transition to a team environment to achieve goals within the library was an important development. Wand believes this teamwork will continue after she leaves.
Wand said she has enjoyed her time at AU, and that it has been extremely rewarding working with a “strong library faculty and staff.” She also believes that the position has allowed her to grow as a person.
“Personally I have seen myself grow within this position over the years. I have always faced challenging projects to undertake and ways to improve the library,” she said.
Wand has also testified in front of the House Appropriations Committee. She was invited on three different occasions to deliver messages about funding for the Library of Congress. She remembers testifying “was intimidating but I knew the message was extremely important and I belonged in that message; it was fun to do.” As a result, the Library of Congress received the extra funding.
At the end of this semester, Wand will be relocating to become Dean of Libraries at Zayed University in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Zayed University was founded in 1998 by the UAE government to educate UAE women and currently has 2500 students, according to the school’s website. The university hopes to have 5,000 students by 2006 on two campuses.
Ivy Broder, AU acting provost and dean of academic affairs, wrote in a September university memorandum that “although this position will fulfill one of Pat’s long-held goals to work in an international setting, I know we will all miss her extraordinary stewardship of the library’s resources and dedication to the library and university.”
Wand knows the library will stick with the programs she has implemented and continue to be successful. “There’s a lot of talent there,” she said.