SLIS Instructor and Alum Robert Boyd Blends IT Skills with Library Leadership

While working as a manager in the Information Technology department at Santa Clara University in California, Boyd participated in design meetings for the school’s state-of-the-art $95 million new library. The process involved researching other university libraries across the country and learning about the Information Commons model, which brings together computing tools, print materials and electronic resources, along with the expertise of library staff.

“I was all amped up once I returned from our visits to those libraries,” Boyd said. “Then I learned that the School’s Executive MLIS program had just started.” Boyd joined the School’s 2006 Executive MLIS cohort, earning his degree while continuing to work full-time at Santa Clara University. He appreciated the flexibility of the distance learning program, especially in contrast to the long hours he logged in the classroom while pursuing his law degree at Santa Clara University School of Law.

“I really enjoyed the blend of traditional library science courses and management courses in the Executive MLIS program. We learned about cataloguing and reference services, as well as finances and human resources,” Boyd said. “It was like getting an MBA.”

Boyd graduated in 2008, and his MLIS degree earned him an additional job at Santa Clara University as Assistant University Librarian for Technology Applications in the University Library. His team now includes systems managers for the administrative and library systems, as well as the Digital Initiatives Librarian. The cross-department team has already offered some interesting opportunities for collaboration across traditionally isolated units, all with the goal of promoting teaching and learning on campus.

Boyd also works as a part-time faculty member at SLIS because he found that he missed teaching. His first job after earning his BA in history and MA in education from Stanford was teaching high school social science. “It’s so much fun to be in the classroom and share what you find to be exciting,” he said. “And teaching for SLIS has been a great way to continue learning.”

Boyd distills his array of experiences in the workplace into lessons for his LIBR-204 Information Organizations and Management and LIBR-200 Information and Society courses. For LIBR-204 in particular, Boyd likes to focus on one of the most reviled experiences but necessary skill: working together in a group.

“While many students fear and loathe group work, managed correctly, group work can also be a rewarding experience that leverages the strength of each individual’s skills,” said Boyd. “The key is for students to take the time to agree upon reasonable and realistic team ground rules, design strategies for dealing with, rather than avoiding, conflict, and recognize individual accountability towards achieving the shared goal.”

Balancing his jobs with Santa Clara University and SLIS with his family life has required a bit of sacrifice – namely, Boyd retired his beloved Scottish bagpipes. He played since he was a “wee lad” of seven years old for audiences around the world, including the Queen of England.

“I hate making that sacrifice but something had to go,” he said. And he hasn’t had any luck persuading his three teenage children to carry on his legacy. “Wearing a kilt really bothers them, which I can understand.”