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About the Library: Dean John-Bauer Graham

This guide introduces you to the Houston Cole Library.

Dean John-Bauer Graham

Q & A with Dean Graham

Q: How did you get started working in libraries?

A: I started working in libraries as a student while working on my undergraduate degree at Auburn University. I had aspirations of being a history professor when I grew up but noticed in all of the books I was reading from these distinguished historians, that they first thanked their library and librarians. It was the information and the discovery of the knowledge that I was most interested in and thought that perhaps librarianship was a better career choice. Additionally, academic librarianship combined the two things that I was looking for most in a career; a service profession and working in a college or university setting. 

Q: What is your background?

A: My academic background is an undergraduate degree and Master’s degree in History, a Master’s of Library and Information Studies from The University of Alabama and doctoral work in Higher Education Administration. My “other” background is I’m a military brat that luckily ended up in Gadsden, Alabama many moon’s ago. I was fortunate to be given a chance by the former administration to come to work at JSU as an evening circulation assistant in our library in 1997 and the rest, as they say, is history.

Q: What do you do in your role as … at the Library?

A: I am a Professor and Dean of Library Services. I am responsible for our 16 faculty members and 18 staff members, the building, its collections and all library services (but not the coffee shop, please send those inquires to campus dining).

Q: What is your favorite thing about (or most memorable experience) working at the Houston Cole Library?

A: Being able to be a part of an academic support unit that cares for not only the entire University but the entire community as well, in addition to being surrounded with dedicated faculty and staff that share my passion and commitment to service has been the most gratifying experience.  Having their trust to lead the unit is one of my most cherished things.

Q: What do you like to do when you are not working?

A: I suppose the correct answer for a librarian would be “to read” but I actually enjoy other things besides my scholarly pursuits. I enjoy playing basketball (still) and spending as much time with family and friends as I possibly can.

Q: Describe yourself in three words.

A: An open book.

Q: What are some fun facts or interesting things you would like us to know about you?

A: I’m a sucker for Internet cat videos and have strange/eclectic taste in music, plus I can still slam a basketball (regulation size ball and 10 foot goal, I might add).

Q: In your own words… (tell us what you think about our profession, our Library, our University)

A: Our profession is needed now more than ever. I like to tell our students that because of the avalanche of information readily available with a few key strokes (or even voice commands); we (librarians) are needed to help dig you out from under the pile. Finding information, in this day and age, is no longer like finding a needle in a haystack, but rather finding a single straw of hay in a stack of needles. It can be dangerous. There is an old saying in the profession, there’s the stuff you know, and the stuff you know how to find. Our librarians specialize in the finding part. Our library is an awesome resource and as a “place” should be the hub of the campus. After all (to quote Shelby Foote) “A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library.” Our University is at a crossroads, we have to work hard to establish our identity and regain our proper place as one of the best colleges (across all programs) in the Southeast. Establishing our identity doesn’t necessarily mean looking for a new image or “hook” but perhaps looking back to what we have done to make us great in the past and relying on those strengths.