March 16, 2018

Terry Reese | Movers & Shakers 2005

The Whiz Kid


We should be grateful that Terry Reese had to work his way through college. As a work-study student, taught to do cartographic cataloging in the University of Oregon’s map library, he discovered the mental challenges libraries offered. Later he became Oregon State University (OSU)’s cataloger for networked resources and digital unit production head. If he hadn’t come to OSU, he says, “I might have ended up working for Symantec. But at OSU I found a place where I could merge my technical skills with my creativity.”

Reese has a genius for thinking up automated solutions to time-consuming manual activities. He believes that a library’s metadata is one of its most valuable assets, so it must be easy to change and repurpose. When he discovered that he could not reliably use the Library of Congress’s MARC editing program from his new Windows computer, he created his own Windows-based editing suite, MARCEdit, an improvement on the original product. Deb Hackleman, librarian for systems applications at OSU, says Reese “was invited to the Library of Congress to demonstrate its potential for use by our national library.” What’s more, Reese has made the program available as freeware, along with online tutorials, screen shots, and troubleshooting advice.

Now, its users number in the tens of thousands.

Reese went on to create Reference Desk Manager when he discovered that reference librarians had trouble keeping track of the rapidly changing local information they were always being asked about: library and campus events, contact information for campus offices and organizations, library and university policies and procedures, and so on.

While trying to integrate MARC records for electronic journal titles into the library’s OPAC, he was annoyed by the time it took staff to resolve duplicate records and constantly changing holdings in the various databases. So he created EBSCO Records Wizard (which works with other vendors’ databases as well), which has dropped maintenance time for e-journal records down to a few minutes per month. Even better, direct use of full-text journal articles from OPAC records has significantly increased.

Again, Reese made these programs available as freeware, and they have been gratefully received by librarians worldwide. In a normal week, he troubleshoots some 80 to 90 questions from the various programs’ users.

The problems that interest Reese right now are automated harvesting of metadata (his .NET OAI Harvester project is in development at Sourceforge) and making library and vendor systems interact better. One section of his web site is devoted to the changes he’s making – scripts and documentation to extend current functionality – to CONTENTdm, the digital collection management software.

And he’s just getting started. According to Hackleman, “It is unusual to see someone have this great an impact so early in his career. Terry is highly respected by both vendors and librarians.”

But professional recognition and lucrative software deals are not what Reese is after (indeed, he was somewhat taken aback at the idea of being called a “mover and shaker”). Jeremy Frumkin, Gray Family Chair for Innovative Technologies at OSU, says Reese “is one of those unique individuals who is driven by his interest in solving problems and inventing solutions.”

Reese says it’s about following his curiosity: “I realize I could probably make much more working in a commercial marketplace, but the trade-off is the lack of freedom to pick the projects that I want to work on.”


Current Position Cataloger for Networked Resources and Digital Unit Production Head, Valley Library, Oregon State University, Corvallis

Degree MLS, Florida State University, 2002

His freeware MARCEdit (
Reference Desk Manager (
EBSCO Records Wizard (
CONTENTdm Projects: