Tara Murray: Former APLIC-I member now Director of Information Services/Librarian at the American Philatelic Society (stamps!)

I first joined APLIC-I when I started my job as Information Core Director at Penn State’s Population Research Institute. I was a new professional – just a year out from receiving my MLIS – and new to the field of population. My colleagues in APLIC helped me understand the information needs of demographers and helped me locate difficult-to-find articles and documents, but perhaps most importantly they gave me a network of other information professionals to talk to.

My first exposure to conference planning came during my first APLIC-I conference, in Atlanta in 2002. I remember listening to discussions about the conference’s theme, programming, and social events and having my eyes opened to what it takes to plan a successful event. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would go on to work on many events in the following years, from planning APLIC board meetings and conferences, to hosting events for my local SLA chapter, to coordinating an international postal history symposium in my current job.

I’ve been involved in many other professional organizations, but APLIC-I always stands out for two reasons: the small size of the organization allowed me to really get to know the other members, and the diversity of the membership – including many different kinds of information professionals in many different settings – exposed me to new ideas and ways of doing things

The possibilities of digital information are transforming the way we work. Documents that were never searchable can be searched. Datasets can be combined. Huge amounts of data can be accessible from a desktop. This opens up powerful new opportunities, but also many questions about ethics, privacy, security, and intellectual property.

On the other hand, I think personal relationships will be even more important. We can no longer expect that users will come to the library – either its physical or virtual presence. Libraries and librarians need to become more embedded in their users’ lives and work. It is crucial for information professionals to act as part of teams within their organizations, rather than as cost centers. All that said, and despite the potential of digital information, I’ve yet to see a technology as adaptable and long-living as print on paper, and I don’t see books going away any time soon.

I came to the American Philatelic Research Library in July 2010, after spending nine years as an information services director for the Population Research Institute at nearby Penn State University. I’m active in the Special Libraries Association (SLA) (Cabinet Chair, 2014; Secretary, 2015) and Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) and serve on the editorial board of the Journal of Library Administration. The world’s largest library dedicated to stamp collecting and postal history, it is just 11 miles from Penn State’s campus so I still live in State College. Philatelists are incredible researchers and writers, and most place a high value on libraries. It’s refreshing to work in a place where the library is considered so integral to the larger organization. In 2016, we opened a new 19,000-square-foot library, and I was deeply involved in the design, construction, and moving. Believe it or not, I still use census data in this job – we do censuses of stamps!

I’ve been very active with the Special Libraries Association, and recently served on the board of directors and as secretary. I always enjoy seeing friends from APLIC at conferences. I also serve on the editorial board for the Journal of Library Administration, editing a column on special libraries. I’d love to get a contribution for the column from an APLIC member – if you have an idea, please get in touch with me! Tara Murray tmurray@stamps.org

Outside of work, I’ve gotten even more into running. In 2010, I ran a 50-mile race, and I’m getting ready to run the Boston Marathon for the ninth time this April. I’m excited to be raising money for Centre Volunteers in Medicine, a local organization providing medical, dental, and case management services to people without health insurance.




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