New NMSU library dean wants to pursue technology and digitization

Elijah Nix

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Kevin James Comerford, the recently selected library dean for New Mexico State University

After much deliberation, Kevin James Comerford was announced to be NMSU’s new library dean on Jan. 14, 2022. 

As library dean, Comerford will take on many responsibilities regarding the structure, operation, funding and direction of the library. 

“In academic environment, saying you’re in charge of something means that you are leading with a shared team and that you are governed by a larger set of authorities,” Comerford said. “The [library] dean is part of a larger team of professional librarians and library staff who make sure the library is a valuable resource for students and faculty.” 

Comerford is currently finishing his position at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) where he works as associate university librarian. There, he manages research services and digital services for the library. This includes digitalization of rare paper collections, promoting availability of digital resources for researchers and developing services that help with research literacy. 

“For example, mapping in GI (geographical indications) geography, research data management, an innovation space at the library that provides students access to 3D printing and scanning and virtual realities.” said Comerford. 

Before working at UCR, Comerford worked at the University of New Mexico and was in charge of digital initiatives such as New Mexico Digital Collections which is used to digitize special collections of historic New Mexican artifacts. Comerford also spent a few years at Microsoft. 

According to Comerford, “A lot of my career experience has been managing libraries that are providing both core important services [like] access books, etc., but also providing access to high technology.” 

This high technology and digitization are somethings Comerford hopes to further pursue at NMSU’s library. One specific aspect of this digitization includes the Rio Grande Historical Collection. 

“The library has a lot of unique materials about Southern New Mexico and the borderlands that help with researchers who are interested in those particular study areas hand and they are actively involved in digitizing the collection,” Comerford said. 

For Comerford, it is important that the library provides every student and faculty member with the needs suitable for their position. According to him, it is much more than a place to check out books. The library is a place equipped to teach about information and research literacy, store research information, provide technology workshops and help faculty get government grants. 

“The library is a multifaceted resource, so it means different things to people throughout their academic career as a student and then it means different things to faculty and so forth,” Comerford said. 

Comerford is excited to begin his work here on NMSU’s campus starting Mar. 15, 2022 

“What excites me about libraries in the future and the power of the academic libraries is that we’re a resource that’s available to everybody across the university regardless of what major you’re in–whether you’re an undergraduate or graduate, or a faculty member.” Comerford said. “I’m excited about developing new services and new collection resources that meet everybody’s needs across the campus and I think the library has done an excellent job theretofore,”

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