Library director reflects on first year

Last summer, Castleton University hired Jami Yazdani to serve as the new library director. In her first Spartan semesters, she has taken to the new role with apparent ease, affability, and forward thinking enthusiasm.

Bringing new technologies and programs to Coolidge, Yazdani is in many ways modernizing the library.

Yazdani – who replaces the long-respected, and recently retired Sandy Duling – is well prepared for this appointment. With 13 years of professional librarian experience to her credit and a master’s degree in library science from Louisiana State University, Yazdani is highly qualified for the directorship.

Interestingly, the Virginia native had never visited Castleton – or Vermont for that matter – prior to being hired.

Having previously worked at institutions with 60,000 plus students, she mentioned that she has had to “recalibrate her approach,” to better serve the students of a small university. She welcomes this change, however, noting that the transition has been “a good thing.”

Despite being a relative newcomer, Yazdani seems right at home on campus.

“It’s really just about learning Castleton’s culture, and how things work here, and that hasn’t really been a challenge. Everyone has been friendly,” Yazdani said.

Her welcoming office features a few miniature stuffed animals and various sticky note reminders – perfect representations of her complimentary professionalism and personally endearing disposition.

Those who work closely with Yazdani appreciate her technologically progressive ideas.

“It’s been great. She’s getting a lot done and leading us into the 21st century as far as using technology tools to do our work better,” Reference and Instruction Librarian Charlotte Gerstein said.

Her colleagues agree.

“She’s brought a lot of new stuff, a lot of new ideas to the library that she used at her previous institutions that we hadn’t gotten into yet,” Access Services Librarian Stephanie Traverse said.

Yazdani and the library staff are particularly enthusiastic about a new service called “24-Hour Chat.”

The “24-Hour Chat” service is an expansion of a previous program that provided students with direct chat-access to librarians, but operated only during class hours. Yazdani has overseen the expansion of this program, which now allows students to receive personal research assistance from actual librarians 24 hours a day.

“If you’re a procrastinator, kind of like I was in school, and you're doing homework at two a.m., there’s a librarian somewhere that can help you,” Yazdani said.

Aside from this new service, Yazdani has not yet instituted significant changes at the library, choosing to first learn about the community to better understand its educational priorities.

“What I wanted to do my first year was a strategic planning process to get to know what the needs were … I tried not to have too many grand plans before I got here and knew what the situation was,” She said.    

Yazdani has initiated the use of statistical analytics by library staff to help diagnose potential problems, and prescribe solutions. She has also organized activities like the “Fourteen Days to Have Your Say,” gathering suggestions from students and faculty alike regarding potential improvements and alterations to library services.

The new director said she takes great pleasure in the day-to-day diversity of her job responsibilities – the planning, budgeting, library instruction courses, circulation desk, overseeing library staff and personally helping students with their research.

Appreciating each day as an opportunity to learn, Yazdani admits that she often spends her own time further researching topics brought to her by students.

She hopes that in the future more students will feel encouraged to utilize the vast, varied and capable services of the library.

“We have a lot more resources and services available than most student know about, and I would encourage them to come in and talk to us … We have a lot of stuff online. I think people often associate libraries just with books, and we have a lot of wonderful books, but we have so many online resources, and things you can do at home,” Yazdani said.


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