Member of the Week: Shali Zhang

Shali ZhangShali Zhang is Dean of Libraries at the University of Montana Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library in Missoula, Montana. Shali has been an ACRL member since 2001 and is your ACRL member of the week for August 18, 2014.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Thoughtful, approachable, and flexible

2. What are you currently reading?  I am re-reading Montana 1948 by Larry Watson, a master piece. The novel received the Milkweed National Fiction Prize.  One thing that I feel very fortunate about is the fact that I live in Missoula, Montana. It is an area being surrounded by mountains and endless forests. The weather in the winter is much milder and more comfortable, in comparison with that in the northeast part of Montana in Watson’s novel where it was brutally cold in the winter and the temperature could be below 40 degrees.

3. Describe ACRL in three words:  Visionary, professionalism, and advocacy

4. What do you value about ACRL? ACRL has produced and published most valuable professional literature, guidelines, and other documents. These publications, online or in other formats, have helped guide my practical work.  I was on the Editorial Board of College and Research Libraries for two terms, six years in total.  During that period, I had opportunities to read, review, and recommend manuscripts from academic librarians to be published.  It was most rewarding experience and it also inspired me to get my Ph. D. degree so that I could become a better consumer for ACRL’s research products. ACRL has done an outstanding job in encouraging and inspiring academic librarians’ interests in conducting research projects and sharing their research findings through publications.  In many ways, these research findings have served as foundation on which we developed policies, programs, and best practices to serve library users.

5. What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? As the library dean, I am able to help strategically plan library services, programs, and initiatives aligning with the university’s vision, mission, core values, and strategic directions. For instance, the University of Montana’s strategic Plan, UM 2020: Building a University for the Global Century, focuses on student success, education for global century, discovery and research, learning environment, and planning-assessment.  When we developed the library’s strategic plan, we made sure that the library plan reflects that of the university so that the library is an active player and an important participant in helping realize the university’s goals. The library faculty members have made concerted efforts in reaching out and partnering with campus units in serving our diverse student populations, including traditional and non-traditional students, Native American students, student veterans, students with learning and physical disabilities, international students, and online students. The library’s efforts have also been recognized by the campus community.

6. In your own words:  Taking a leadership position in the library profession often requires courage to get out one’s comfortable zones for new challenges. In late 2012, I took a new position as Dean of Libraries at the University of Montana. The position has offered me opportunities to practice what I learned through the ACRL Harvard Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians in which I participated previously. The Institute helped me think strategically and develop skills to be an effective administrator in facing challenges of the complex environment of higher education.  Librarians at academic libraries have played important roles in learning, teaching, research, community engagements on their campuses. ACRL has been valuable resources to help us on these exciting endeavors.

Editor’s Note: Are you an ACRL member? Would you like to be featured as ACRL Member of the Week? Nominate a colleague? Contact Mary Jane Petrowski at for more information.