University of Houston Libraries is pleased to welcome Lauren Gottlieb-Miller as the associate dean for Special Libraries and Preservation.
Please describe your role. How does your portfolio align with the student success and research priorities of the University?
My portfolio at UH Libraries includes departments of Special Collections and Preservation and Reformatting housed within MD Anderson Library, the Music Library housed within the Moores School of Music, and the William R. Jenkins Architecture, Design, and Art Library housed within the College of Architecture building.
My role is to provide strategic oversight and leadership to these units stewarding, preserving, and providing access to some of the richest collections of primary source materials across formats in our campus and across our region. Together with my talented colleagues working within Special Libraries, Special Collections, and Preservation and Reformatting, we work collaboratively across the University and greater region to promote student success through engagement with our collections and to meet the research demands of our high-performing faculty and their students.
Please share a bit about your background and research interests. How do these inspire and shape your approach as a librarian?
I received my BA in English Literature with a minor in Studio Art and Printmaking, and received my MA in Library and Information Studies, Art Librarianship Emphasis from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. At Madison I also began a PhD in the History of the Book and Print Culture. Most recently I was the director of the Library and Archives at the Menil Collection, an institution I worked for just under 8 years, prior to joining UH Libraries this November.
My research interests focus on the history of the book, particularly the book as object in both the historical sense and in our present moment, which informs my approach to both stewardship of special collections and specialized print materials. This also informs my approach to strategically managing these materials within research environments that are well served by open access and e-preferred acquisitions models. I am most interested in the same things that drew me to the profession in the first place: how can we create welcoming and meaningful opportunities to engage our audiences with the stories and histories that special collections materials offer us, regardless of format, while sustainably preserving them for future audiences.
What are one or two things you’d like faculty and students to know about engaging with special libraries and primary source materials?
I want faculty and students at the University of Houston to know that these materials are here for them, not as a secondary mission but as the mission of the four units my position oversees. As a first-generation college student, it took me a long time to feel empowered enough to ask for access to special collections and archival materials, as they didn’t feel like they were there for me and the reading rooms they’re often held in can feel very intimidating. What I found back then, and what I want our communities served by UH Libraries to know now, is that these materials are here to support your inquiry regardless of what stage you are in. We are here for you!