November 21, 2017

Roy Mersky | Movers & Shakers 2003

Renewable Resource

If you’re looking at the picture of Roy Mersky, a library director for more than three decades, and thinking that this must be some kind of “mover and shaker emeritus” designation, think again. Because at the age of 79, with a distinguished 40-year career already filled with accomplishments, awards, and honors, Mersky is still going strong. At a time when librarianship is facing what has been termed a recruitment crisis, that is a good thing.

His list of achievements (a list that stretches over 30 pages, by the way) is only a small part of Mersky’s story. He has taken his library seamlessly from the days of traditional print sources through the digital age. He opened the law library to the community at large, in the process earning major plaudits from legal scholars, students, and the general public alike. And as those in the University of Texas (UT) community will tell you, both his management and his research are, and have always been, top-notch.

But it’s Mersky’s dedication to the profession that is truly inspiring. “He is an incredibly active librarian,” says Rhonda Hankins, senior administrative associate at the Jamail Center. “He constantly wants to improve service to patrons and that motivates him to keep talking to people and keep reinventing library services when necessary.” Beyond Mersky’s day-to-day management of the library and his considerable hands-on mentoring, he is legendary for his commitment to the future of the profession, often allowing flexible scheduling so his employees can pursue their library degrees and taking an active interest in their progress. “He is such a fantastic mentor that it makes me confident I will become a very good information professional,” says Hankins.

“Anyone who has ever worked for Mersky recognizes the note ‘See RMM,'” says Hankins. “That means that RMM wants to discuss with you an idea, an article, a project, a problem, a vision. He probably distributes a dozen ‘see RMM’ notes a day!”

Vitals

Current Positions: Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science; Director, Jamail Center for Legal Research, University of Texas at Austin

Degrees: MALS, University of Wisconsin,1953; JD, 1952


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