Marriott Library director leaves for Chapel Hill

After nine years of increasing the Marriott Library’s collection and lobbying legislators, with positive and negative results, Director Sarah Michalak is moving on to a more prestigious job.

Beginning Fall Semester, she will become the university librarian and associate provost for university libraries at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She will oversee around three dozen libraries on campus and help decide the budgeting process for them, she said. “I’m leaving because this is a promotion for me. It’s a major step in my career.”

She said she isn’t leaving because she hasn’t received funding for the Marriott Library reconstruction project for three straight years.

“I’m not mad or anything. I wouldn’t leave over something like that,” she said.

It takes from six months to a year to hire a new library director, as is evidenced by the fact that she applied for the Chapel Hill job in February and received word of her hiring this month.

She hopes by that time, the Utah Legislature will have approved the funding for the Marriott Library, and the new director can take over with money in hand.

“I hope he or she can just come in and get the building done,” she said.

Besides fighting for money from the state Legislature and possibly renovating the library, Michalak says the biggest challenge the new director will face is keeping up with research periodicals.

“The cost of journals has increased so drastically over the past few years that keeping up the collection for a research university’s faculty and staff is going to be a significant challenge,” she said.

She also thinks she’ll face a similar situation at UNC’s library, which at 215 years old is the oldest library in the country, according to Michalak.

“They were collecting materials before the country was actually a country,” she said.

Gary Rasmussen, assistant director for library computing and technical services, has appreciated Michalak’s ability to operate in the current world.

“She has been our leader through a time of tremendous change as libraries refocus their organizations and services to meet needs of the new information age. She has been a risk-taker and change agent,” Rasmussen said.

Michalak said she will miss the library and its staff.

“I think the Marriott Library is a fabulous place. I’m sorry I have to leave, but I really feel a calling to this new job,” she said.

[email protected]