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Oral history interview with Robert Wolven [electronic resource], 2017

Creator: Wolven, Robert
Project: Oral history interview with Robert Wolven
(see all project interviews)
Phys. Desc. :Sound recording: 10 digital audio files Transcript: 276 pages
Location: Columbia Center for Oral History
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Biographical Note

Robert Wolven was a longtime employee of Columbia University Libraries (1972-2016), holding a range of positions in a time of great change and innovation at CUL and in the library field as a whole. Later in his career he was an active driver in these shifts, including the switch to online public access catalogs, new metadata and cataloging practices, and a growing collaboration among libraries. He was honored with the Mann Citation and the Dewey Medal for his leadership in the field.

Scope and Contents

In the first session Wolven and Vanderscoff conduct an overview of Robert Wolven's youth in Yonkers, including his early experiences with libraries and with New York City, and his recollections of his family. Wolven describes his undergraduate studies in physics at Cornell and his MLS studies at Columbia. This session also documents the early years of his career (1972-1987), including his first and second tenures as a CUL cataloger, his work as a mathematics/science and chemistry librarian, and his role as head of cataloging at the Law School Library. Session two explores the middle chapter of Wolven's career with CUL (1987-1999). It covers the substantial changes the field, including a swifter move to the online public access catalog (OPAC) and a significant shift in the tools and skills required by his job as digital interfaces and issues became more central. He shares his lessons and philosophies of management. He also discusses how the library field became increasingly interconnected, and the resulting possibilities and problems. This session covers his time as the director of bibliographic control & processing. Session three explores the later chapters of Wolven's career with CUL (1999-2016). He recounts key collaborations such as 2CUL and considers their ramifications for the field. He recounts ongoing changes in the field and considers present and future dynamics of collaboration, digital innovation, and cataloging. We also discuss his winning the Mann Citation and Dewey Medal. This interview covers his time as Acting Deputy University Librarian, Director of Library Systems and Bibliographic Control, and Associate University Librarian for Bibliographic Services and Collection Development.


Access Conditions

Copyright by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 2016.

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