Meet DaVonne Rooney, Director of Library Operations at the Paul J. Gutman Library

Last month, the Academic Commons was thrilled to welcome DaVonne Rooney, new Director of Library Operations at the Paul J. Gutman Library, to our team! We sat down with DaVonne to find out what brought her to Jefferson, what she’s got in store for the library, and what interests her – beyond books. HINT: She may have rubbed elbows with some heavy metal rock stars.

Welcome to Jefferson, DaVonne! First things first, what is your title?
Director of Library Operations for the
Gutman Library.

What does that title mean to you?
That title means that I am the leader/manager of the band. I support the staff of Gutman Library, keeping them motivated and moving forward. I ensure the library and its staff are equipped to support the research and education needs of the University.

How do you like Jefferson so far?
I love it so far. The associates of the Academic Commons are very welcoming and willing to help me get settled. They all love what they do very deeply. They are very supportive. The University, as a whole, feels very supportive as well. I love the culture so far.

Prior to Jefferson, where were you working?
Before coming to Jefferson, I was the Head of Access Services for the Penn Libraries at the University of Pennsylvania, University City campus. Before that, I was a teen and technology librarian at a small public library in my hometown, Williamstown, New Jersey.

What brought you into the world of libraries?
Libraries have always been in my life in some way, especially as a young child. I didn’t see libraries as a career path until I was older and faced with the decision: where to go, what do I do now post-recession and, also, following the inevitable down-turn of the print journalism industry [I majored in journalism as an undergrad.].

Research and writing were two things I have always loved. Books and learning were another two things I always loved. Combine those four things with a long experience in service and the desire to serve others; it just made sense.

What is your favorite thing about working in an academic library?
I was just discussing this with another librarian at Gutman who also had a start in public libraries and was a library director at one point. We both enjoy the dedication the users have to their education and research. Their self-starting initiative and drive to achieve in their respective fields is inspiring. I love helping a user get what they need to achieve their goals, whether that is done directly through research instruction and reference help or indirectly by ensuring they have interactive and collaborative technology and teaching/learning space in the library.

We know it’s early, but are there any goals you have for the library in the next few years? What’s on the horizon?  
The Gutman Library is in the planning process of a full building renovation. We are hoping to better utilize the current space in the library for collaborative work and quiet study. The goal is to repurpose the library in such a way that is allows for optimal support of the needs of students, faculty, and staff. Additionally, we hope this renovation will allow us to showcase and feature the library collection in a unique and interesting way.

Along the same lines, I would like to bring some awareness to the Design Center and the Textile and Costume Collection. Currently, our amazing curator and adjunct professor, Jade Papa and Library Associate, Ann Wilson, are cataloging and digitizing the collection to make it discoverable for our University community. We have so many historical and rare items stored away in a space not equipped to house a museum collection, especially one as historic as this. I would love to see a complete revitalization and reworking of that space; to see the collection continue to be integrated into course work at East Falls, and host events and outreach around the collection not only to the University community but the historical and art community in the Philadelphia [area].

I want to continue to grow our collection to directly support courses and research work at Jefferson. Whether it is through print or electronic means, I would like for Gutman Library to be the one-stop-shop for research and information service and support on campus.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
Remember that comment about the downturn of print journalism earlier? Right before that time, during my course work at Temple University, I wanted to be a magazine journalist. More specifically, I wanted to be a music magazine journalist specializing in showcasing local metal/hardcore and national touring bands. My dream was to work/write for Decibel Magazine (local to Philadelphia) or Revolver Magazine while simultaneously running my own local music blog. And I did it for a stretch of time. I worked for a local independent punk rock magazine, Wonka Vision Magazine. I was one of two interns employed there. Therefore, interviewing big-name bands like Slayer, Machine Head, and In this Moment, were left to us. I did a whole spread on women in metal at a time when women were just starting to make a name for themselves in the scene.

All this considered, I am very much an introvert. Interviewing and writing about musicians and music helped me learn to be extroverted, though I still need to spend time by myself to recharge.

Where on campus can people find you – besides the library?  
In Kanbar, eating! Haha! And hopefully at Gallagher working out. I will definitely be at the Scott Memorial Library in Center City throughout the semester, as well.

Is there anything you wish we would have asked you that we missed?
Where do you see yourself in five years? In five years, I hope to be looking back and reflecting on the last five years. I hope that I am thinking, wow! Look what we accomplished together. What an incredible ride of collaboration with Jefferson University and the amazing and talented staff of the Paul J. Gutman and Scott Memorial Libraries.