Brian Mathews …In Six

My interview with Brian Matthews, the Ubiquitous Librarian

Naomi: What is your dream job and why?
Brian: My “dream” job is to be the founder and CEO of a wildly successful startup company. I’m addicted to entrepreneurialism. I love meeting, brainstorming and hanging out with innovators and creative types. I love watching ideas grow into something tangible. There are a number of startups here in Blacksburg and their energy is rubbing off on me. I love the thought of taking a concept, building it, launching it, and growing it. Whether it’s a new commercial service or an academic research study– it’s a very similar process on a conceptual level.

In a library context– I think it would be a great challenge to be the Library Dean at a big ARL someday. Susan Gibbons is a inspiration to me. I still have a lot to learn before I can even think about that point in my career, but that’s a dream down the road. We’re going to see some dramatic changes over the next twenty years so I can’t wait to see what happens next and to help guide that future.

On a more direct level, I’d love to have the opportunity to develop an entirely new library building from scratch. A modern work environment that propels learning. The new NCSU Library looks amazing– I’d like to design something like that, but with a little more of a Silicon Valley vibe.

Naomi: What blogs should we be reading?
Brian: ACRL Blog, DBL, and info-mational are three library-land blogs I read regularly.

Chronicle blogs are good too:

The Next Web is good for web for news.

And I also recommend following @GuyKawasaki via Twitter. Always leads to great stuff.

Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Brian: I’m still very fond of the library at Georgia Tech. I worked there as it was transforming and it left a lasting impression on me. Work should inspire you– and when I was there, there were a lot of people doing cutting-edge projects. It was a special place.

In terms of other libraries– I visited Harvard and had the opportunity to walk through Widener. It’s lovely and grand– you can’t help but be impressed. Every librarian should make a pilgrimage there, especially if you love print books and elegant reading spaces.

But… after being there for a bit I had to head over to MIT to soak up more of the entrepreneurial vibe. I gravitate toward tech spaces and creative expression and so MIT is The Place for that. Just being on that campus makes you feel smarter and more productive.

Stanford is another inspiring place to me. The libraries are great, but the most wonderful place on campus is the design school. I spent two hours at just looking around and talking to people. I want to build library environments that have that type of engagement, immersiveness, and sense of wonder.

Naomi: Favorite book(s)?
• Inspired: How To Create Products Customers Love
• Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Toolkit for Managers
• Start With Why
• The Lean Startup
• Enhancement: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions
• Where Good Ideas Come From

Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries?
Brian: Libraries are not about books, people, or technology. They are a platform for social, intellectual, cultural, creative, and civic engagement.

I also love when they are open 24 hours and when they offer free wireless to everyone.

Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Brian: Initiative and creativity are two critical skills that I look for. Demonstrate that you can get things done— that you can conceive ideas and lead their development. The best way to standout in a pile of resumes is to show me what you can do, not just tell me what you know. I like when candidates pitch new ideas. Fluency in 21st century literacy is good too.

Brian Mathews is the Associate Dean for Learning & Outreach at Virginia Tech Libraries. He previously worked at UC Santa Barbara, Georgia Tech, and the George Washington University. Brian is passionate about user sensitive librarianship, entrepreneurialism, and brand development.

Brian blogs at The Ubiquitous Librarian hosted by The Chronicle of Higher Education. His book, Marketing Today’s Academic Library, was published by ALA Editions in 2009. He recently published a white paper titled: Think Like A Startup.