February 17, 2018

Donna Reed | Movers & Shakers 2003

A Vital Link


At age six, Donna Reed knew she wanted to become a librarian. She didn’t enter library school, however, until she was 39, partly because she lacked access to a library school. Still, all her jobs were in libraries; she even gained the title of “law librarian” at two legal jobs. So when the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office hired her to run the in-house library, she decided to attend library school as well.

Her late entry, she concludes, gave her more up-to-date training than she would have gotten 15 years earlier. Reed thought she needed to learn more about reference and cataloging work but instead discovered she “needed to think about information differently – to analyze and understand what information was and to manage it in a different way.”

Now on the job, she has to think about both information and people. Beyond overseeing her own staff, Reed coordinates the work of 50 people who contribute to the library web site. She also helped build the Cascade-Link community information network, and she now is careful to build links between the county and city web sites and the library. Even though the library’s site lacks some new bells and whistles, it has won awards and recognition for its AskUs reference service, homework help, and CascadeLink; provision of remote access to about 65 databases; and EventFinder database, where one can search and sign up for classes and events.

Once torn between her techie and content sides, Reed has had the question answered for her: she now reports to the head of reference rather than the head of IT. In evaluating new technologies, she doesn’t need to learn the programming, just manage it.

When librarians ask, “Will Google put us out of business?” Reed thinks the question should be, “What can we do to serve our customers better?” Reed has learned to “expect that what you do day to day is going to change” and gains inspiration beyond the library world. It’s not just looking at Amazon.com: “Recently I’ve been looking at some systems in real estate that are just amazing.”




Current Position: Information System Coordinator, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR

MLIS, Emporia State University, KS, 1996

Teaches: Information Repackaging and Database Design for Information Professionals, Emporia State University, KS

Web Sites: www.multcolib.org; www.cascadelink.org