Wall Brings Years Of Experience, Positive Attitude To BC Libraries
Published: Sunday, February 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Thomas Wall, the University Librarian of Boston College, has never been afraid of an adventure. Since his four years as an undergraduate at Richard Stockton College in New Jersey, Wall has traveled the country as a student, teacher, and librarian. His office walls are decorated with an eclectic collection of posters, pictures, and paraphernalia that capture his many adventures. A classic Steelers end zone picture hangs next to an iconic Lonesome Dove movie poster. A John Deere hat sits beside a large stack of classical texts. A family photo sits next to university degrees. Wall's adventures as a student and librarian have brought experience, knowledge, and great passion to the BC campus.
March 1 marks Wall's three-year anniversary as Boston College's University librarian. Wall has been working as a librarian for over 20 years. After receiving an undergraduate degree in philosophy and religion from Richard Stockton College, Wall went on to obtain his graduate degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His adventures continued as he traveled back north. Wall studied philosophy at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he received his master's degree. He then joined the Chicago Public Library staff as head of research under the Harold Washington Administration. Wall went on to receive his Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh, where he worked as the head of public services for 13 years. With his wife and family, Wall returned to the south, where he worked as the associate university librarian for public services at Duke University for eight years.
As the associate university librarian for Duke University, Wall renovated the campus libraries and modernized their facilities. His goal was to connect the student body and faculty with Duke's libraries, and he was extremely successful. The campus' main library had an average gate count of 600,000 students when he began working. After eight years working at Duke, the gate count had reached over 2 million.
"The student body saw the library as an important part of the academic campus," Wall said. "We were innovating, building, and really listened and responded to the students and faculty. That's what we want to do here at Boston College."
For the past three years, Wall has worked to bring the BC libraries from "good to great." He has developed a strategic approach to improving and renovating the campus libraries. Under his leadership, library facilities have been modernized, new technology has been installed, and library study rooms and lounges have been refurbished.
"We want to make the library a part of BC's transformation from good to great," Wall said. "The libraries should have a leadership role in such a wonderful city and great community."
Since March of 2009, Wall has tackled a major project every summer. During his first year, the Educational Resource Center in Campion Hall was completely renovated. During his second year, the entrance to O'Neill library on the first floor was opened. Under Wall's leadership, the entire first floor was modernized. Study booths were built, technology monitors were installed, and the student art gallery was created. This coming summer, Wall plans to renovate part of the first floor in O'Neill by taking down the blue stacks and creating a reading room for students. And while Wall has led significant renovation projects, he continues to face the challenge of maintaining the history of BC's libraries.
"The challenge of Boston College is to not lose the traditional values and feel of libraries," said Wall, "but at the same time, move ahead in ways that are good for our student body and faculty … we're trying to bring the tradition and future together in a way that's great for Boston College."
Since joining the BC community, Wall has worked hard to connect with the student body and faculty. He has developed monthly student advisory meetings and encourages students to reach out to the library faculty. After three years at BC, Wall feels there have been significant improvements in the BC libraries.
"Every good university has a great library," Wall said. "I'm committed to making Boston College libraries great. The staff is doing a really great job with that goal … they're listening to students more than ever before, the faculty is engaged, we're all making strides."
Wall has big plans for BC's libraries, and he's confident in the future.
"The library isn't just about taking out a book and leaving. It's more than that," he said. "And we want to make the Boston College libraries the best they can be."