Staff Profile: Joanne Schneider

Elsie Denton

Case Library has seen a lot of changes over the last few years, and so the hiring of a new librarian is one that may have gone largely unnoticed by the student body as a whole; yet this change will have just as much impact on library usage as any other.

Joanne Schneider signed on as University Librarian in June. She brings with her expertise in library administration and a variety of eclectic interests and experiences.

As an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, Schneider completed a double major in Religious Studies and Mathematics.

She went on to enter a graduate program in Tibetan Buddhism but switched to Library Information Science because it gave her an opportunity to work in the emerging field of computers.

Tibet hasn’t lost its appeal for Schneider, as she has continued to support the Tibetan community over the years. In the 1970’s she spent a year teaching English to exiled Tibetan monks in India and volunteered at libraries set up for Tibetan refugees within the monasteries.

Back in the United States, she helped design a ‘laptop library’ for the Tibetan Nuns Project in Dharamsala, India, set up a library for a Tibetan monastery in New Jersey and volunteered as the Vermont state representative for the Office of Tibet in New York City.

Schneider is also interested in the history of the New England region. As Assistant Director of the Middlebury College library for 22 years, she worked with the Sheldon Museum of Vermont History to plan an electronic database to document regional history – a project she hopes to continue here in Hamilton.

Schneider enjoys hiking and canoeing and during the winter likes to snowshoe on frozen lakes and go ice fishing.

Schneider lives with her husband, Gary Meyers, just outside of town. They have five children between them, a golden retriever named Caper and two cats, Amos and Lulu

Schneider has always seen herself as a unifier.

“You get lots of practice,” she said, “trying to manage a blended family. There are so many issues of competition and compensation that need to be worked out. You must to be able to see the world through others’ eyes.”

Perhaps this is why she places such a high degree of importance on cooperation between faculty, library staff and students.

Schneider plans to create a Library Advisory Committee, composed of library staff, faculty advisors and student representatives from the Student Government Association.

The Committee will provide a forum for addressing difficulties, airing concerns and implementing solutions.

She also plans to survey the student body at large to discover how to improve the functioning of the library in its present condition.

“The goal,” Schneider said, “is to put students at the center of everything we do.”

Another divide Schneider would like to bridge is the gulf between increasingly popular audiovisual resources and the textual materials available in the library. To do this, she plans to strike a balance between these information formats by integrating audio clips, digital images and video resources into the renovated Case library.