After 29 years at the Samuel R. Scholes Library of Ceramics and the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Mark Smith will be retiring at the end of this year, signaling the end of an era for the Alfred University Libraries.
For nearly three decades, Mark has been recognized, appreciated, and widely beloved across campus for his passionate advocacy for and devotion to the College of Ceramics, his boisterous laughter, and his dynamic and all-encompassing fervency in everything he does. After obtaining his Master of Library Science degree from the University at Buffalo, he has served the Alfred University Libraries, and Scholes Library in particular, in a variety of positions, including Reference Librarian, Information Systems Librarian & Head of Technical Services, Collection Management Librarian, and, most notably, Director of Scholes Library & Associate Dean of Libraries.
During his extensive career, he has shepherded Scholes Library with his characteristic nurturing style and roll-with-the-punches attitude, through all of the tremendous computing and technological shifts of the past few decades, including the implementation of numerous digital systems, tools, and resources. In addition, he led several strategic planning processes, directed multiple library space redesign initiatives, and helped to establish lasting cross-library partnerships while tirelessly championing the unique and specialized mission of Scholes Library. Mark served on myriad College and University committees including Middle States Steering Committees, Promotion and Tenure Committees, Search Committees, the College of Ceramics Faculty Council, Faculty Senate, and the Advisory Council on Technology.
Mark came to librarianship as a second career after a decade of teaching music and theater in Canisteo, NY. He has continued to share these gifts with the community though his leadership and involvement with The Orpheus Chorale, the Hornell Area Community Cantata Choir, the Hornell Community Theatre, and as a board member of the Arts Council of the Southern Finger Lakes, from which he received the Arts Partnership Award in 2013.
As a leader and mentor, Mark has consistently modeled how to lead with empathy, using the heart as well as the mind. Colleagues through the years could tell stories of times they brought Mark an idea and watched him immediately light up with excitement and enthusiastic support in direct proportion to their own excitement and enthusiasm. Mark has always been a master at nurturing the seed of an idea and ensuring it has ample opportunity to thrive. His approach to the cultivation of people has been similar, providing just the right mix of encouragement, direction, and space for each person to soar as their best self.
Throughout his career, Mark has drawn energy and inspiration from the relationships he created through his professional involvement in groups outside of Alfred. For instance, he has been the president and executive board member of the SUNY Librarians Association, the Chair of the SUNY Council of Library Directors, a member of the SUNY Provost’s Faculty Advisory Council on Teaching & Technology, a board member of the South Central Regional Library Council, and a contributor to the New Media Consortium’s highly influential Horizon Report. He received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Librarianship in 2004 and the Friend of SUNY Librarians Association Award in 2012.
Mark’s colleagues throughout the years are grateful that he answered the call to forge a new vocational path into the world of librarianship. His second act has inspired, uplifted, and left us smiling a little bit more than before we heard and joined in his song.
Thank you for all of the laughter, support, and creativity you have given us, Mark. We wish you all good things in the next act of your life’s adventure.