Matthew Sheehy: Brandeis library is at a point of transformation

matthew sheehyPhoto/Mike Lovett

Brandeis University Librarian Matthew Sheehy

Matthew Sheehy has worked in the Brandeis library for three years but has never been more excited than he is today about what the future holds.

That’s because Sheehy was recently appointed the Brandeis National Committee University Librarian by Provost Lisa M. Lynch after a nationwide search that included 40 candidates. In his new role, Sheehy will be tasked with expanding the library’s services and making a richer and more comprehensive research experience for students and faculty.

“The Brandeis library is at a point of transformation,” said Sheehy, who arrived at Brandeis on Dec. 1, 2014 after working in access services at Harvard University. “The people here are thoughtful and innovative, we can do something really special. I am so excited about what’s in store and to work with the talented team we have at Brandeis.”

In addition to his work at Harvard, Sheehy has served in a leadership position at the New York Public Library; He was also associate dean at Adelphi University and has worked in library services at Stony Brook University and Rutgers University.

BrandeisNOW spoke to Sheehy about his experience as a librarian and his new role at Brandeis:

BNOW: Did you always want to be a librarian?

Sheehy: No. As an undergrad I studied music composition, and after a hiatus, I went to graduate school for music history. I fell in love with libraries as a PhD student, so I changed course, completed a MA in music history and went to graduate school to get an additional degree in library sciences.

BNOW: How does one pursue becoming a librarian?

Sheehy: By getting a master's degree in library or information sciences. You learn tools, techniques and strategies which give librarians a common language. A lot of time is spent learning information literacy skills, digital literacies including educational technologies, and policy like copyright and privacy in a digital age. There are also opportunities to learn preservation technologies, coding, data visualization techniques and working with large data sets. Libraries are changing and librarians are keeping pace.

BNOW: What are your goals for the Brandeis library?

Sheehy: I’d like to create an even more comprehensive research library. For example, we need to expand our services in the scholarly communication lifecycle which include research consultations, data management and other repository services. We have the talent within the building, but our structures need to be aligned and services scaffolded with additional support. I want the entire Brandeis community, including our graduate students and faculty, to be able to feel welcome and take advantage of the physical library as well as our online services.

BNOW: What do you like most about our library?   

Sheehy: I’ve always been amazed at the richness of our collection. For a 70-year-old institution, what we have is truly unheard of. We have rare books that many older institutions would love to get their hands on. We just happened to have a group of bibliophiles early on in our institution’s history that helped build our collections through gifts.

We have about 1 million physical items and about an equal amount in digital-only formats – a huge collection. But I don’t equate our library to just collections. The people here are the ones that point you to what we own – incredible things – what we can offer access to, and also teach you how to use it. Our services – our people – work hard to support our scholars.

BNOW: What does it mean to you to be named the Brandeis National Committee University Librarian?

Sheehy: It is an immense privilege to be the newest BNC University Librarian. The BNC's support has been a cornerstone of the Library throughout its history, and the dedication of the committee's thousands of members allows us to fulfill our role as the heart of a thriving campus community.

Categories: General, Research, Student Life

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage