March 16, 2018

Sue Polanka | Movers & Shakers 2011 – Change Agents

Library Journal March 15, 2011: Sue Polanka, Mover & Shakers

eBook Guru

Driven by zeal to improve service, academic librarian Sue Polanka dove into investigating technologies that would serve library users.

Before long, this head of reference and instruction at Wright State University Libraries was blogging about ebooks and had become the go-to person for questions about them. Polanka’s three-year-old blog—voted #1 Academic Library Blog in Salem Press’s Blog Awards—evolved into a book of the same title, No Shelf Required: E-Books in Libraries (ALA Editions).

“As much as people call me an expert, I’m not,” Polanka says. “I just keep track of things, know where to find the information, and have an amazing network of people whom I can contact for information and advice.”

Her colleagues say that Polanka is far more than just plugged into the ebook buzz. They consider her a trusted resource and cite her ability to communicate with programmers and other specialists involved in developing and delivering new technology.

“Sue is a visionary who is constantly thinking about what’s next and where libraries will be in the future,” says Maureen Barry, librarian for first-year and distance learning services at Wright State.

Improving library service with technology couldn’t happen without people like Polanka, who juggle the financial, administrative, and human aspects of installing new technologies, says Ken Irwin, a reference librarian at Wittenberg University’s Thomas Library, OH.

These skills help Polanka on the User Services Committee of OhioLINK, the state’s academic library consortium, which is working toward making the consortium’s online content more discoverable to library users.

Polanka isn’t all about tech. She has given more than 40 presentations on various topics and increased library instruction by 60 percent in classes for incoming Wright State students. And if ebooks are on the agenda, chances are she’s there.

Opening up the library one Friday night each month, she started First Fridays, so students could play card and board games and hang out.

“People drive me. Service drives me. Generosity drives me,” Polanka says. “I’ve gotten my hands slapped several times for speaking out of turn to defend patrons. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The more you give, the more you get in return.”


Sue Polanka, Wright State University Libraries, Dayton

CURRENT POSITIONHead of Reference and Instruction

DEGREE MLS, Kent State University, 1995

PERSONAL GOAL Visit all the continents, except Antarctica, before turning 50

FOLLOW @spolanka; No Shelf Required®