Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders: From NLM Associate Fellow to Health Sciences Library Director

Meet other library leaders who were once NLM associate fellows: Kris Alpi, Lori E. Harris, Shannon Jones, Stephen Kiyoi, Mellanye Lackey, Anne Linton, Alison E. Rollins, and Catherine B. Soehner.

Tanner Wray | 1988-1989 Associate

formal headshot of Tanner WrayCurrent position

Director of College Libraries and Information Services
Montgomery College, Maryland

When did you become director?

I became Director at Montgomery College in November 2012. Montgomery College is a community college that serves 54,000 students across three campuses, including degree-seeking students and citizens seeking advancement through workforce development and continuing education. The Montgomery College Library has locations on all campuses.

What was your career path that led to your current position?

The grounding I received at the National Library of Medicine in the Associate Program is reflected in my career trajectory. My career has not been linear.

Following my Associate year, I worked in database development, collection building, and technical information and public information service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health for two years.

Then I worked in document delivery at the National Agricultural Library for two years, where I gained supervisory skills and coordinated a national document delivery program for 38 university libraries. I also began professional association activities within the American Library Association.

I returned to medical libraries as a systems librarian at the George Washington University Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library, where I developed systems administration skills, including migrating a home-grown integrated library system to an off-the-shelf system. I completed projects rooted in technical services (serials control pattern creations, etc.). When I was promoted to deputy director, I managed technical services, collection development, access services, and systems.

When I moved onto to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Health Sciences Library and main library, I returned to access services work and my supervisory portfolio grew. I contributed to the development of the Sharing and Transforming Access to Resources Section within ALA’s RUSA and provided presentations and articles on innovative services.

At the University of Maryland, I worked in access services. Like in Wisconsin, I was involved in statewide resource sharing efforts across the University of Maryland system and affiliated institutions. I competed for and became the Director of Public Services, with a large portfolio and employees across eight libraries, and I became involved in promotion and permanent status processes for librarians. I expanded my involvement with informally mentoring librarians at other institutions and continued scholarly and association activities related to my work. I was involved in several large projects, including a career changing ethnographic study of the McKeldin Library. I focused on understanding our student’s needs to drive service changes, and welcomed bringing together my quantitative approaches with qualitative approaches.

In 2012 I competed for my current position as Director of Library and Information Services at Montgomery College. At the College, the whole focus of our work is to “change the lives” of students. The College’s mission of student success is compelling to me, and I have been relieved to allow the research libraries to focus on scholarly communication and the national collection. We are 100% focused on student learning. I utilize all the skills from my circuitous journey to MC.

What is your educational background? Or additional training?

  • BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (geophysics/earthquake seismology)
  • Two years of graduate work at Cornell University (geophysics/earthquake seismology)
  • MLS from Syracuse University
  • Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians, Harvard University Graduate School of Education

What are your top three priorities now?

  • Complete an organizational restructuring, moving from a more campus-based organization to a functional one. The new structure will better align the library with the College’s initiatives, principally around student learning and student success.
  • Rebuild employee engagement across the library. Employees will need to build different work relationships in their new roles.
  • Advocate for a refurbishment of the three libraries. Finding funding and keeping the project alive is critical.

What did you learn as an Associate Fellow that you use in your position as director today?

The NLM fellowship established a foundation of librarianship. I was exposed to great thinkers, who encouraged creativity and a scholarly effort, and I was  introduced to the national and regional efforts of NLM and NNLM, which provided a lens for me to think about my work and to build professional relationships and partnerships. This has served me well.

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Compiled by Kathel Dunn, PhD, Associate Fellowship Coordinator at the National Library of Medicine

2 thoughts on “Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders: From NLM Associate Fellow to Health Sciences Library Director

  1. Impressive education, indeed. And some ignorant people might say that being a librarian is nothing special. Truly impressive range of knowledge.

  2. Thank you so much for commenting, Robert. We agree with you! Please keep reading NLM in Focus. Later this month we’ll be featuring NLM associate fellows from 10 years ago.

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