In May, Henry “Joe” Long, Jr., arrived at UMass Amherst as the Executive Director of Library Development. Long’s newly created position as the first full-time development officer for the Libraries represents a significant increase in the University’s support for fundraising for the Libraries. Long comes to us from Springfield College, his alma mater, where he most recently served as a major gifts officer. After earning his bachelor’s degree in 1995 and a master’s degree in sport management in 1997, Long spent a decade in advancement at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, returning to Springfield in 2011.
We asked Joe about himself and his move to the UMass Amherst Libraries.
What are your earliest library memories?
I grew up in Kingston, Mass., on the South Shore. My mom used to have an in-home day care with four or five kids. Every couple of weeks, we would set out for the 2.5-mile walk to the library in the center of town. We had free rein of the children’s literature room, and it was better than visiting the candy store. By the time I went to school, I had read just about every book in the room.
Why UMass Amherst?
Opportunity, challenge, and difference. Opportunity: UMass is an amazing place with committed people who make a difference every day. The opportunity to join this group of colleagues and build on the great work already done by the people before me was just too much to pass up. Challenge: Raising money to support libraries is a difficult and unique task. Many people just see the Library as an extension of the physical campus—a building. For many, libraries are just there, like sidewalks, parking lots, and the shuttle. All of this couldn’t be further from the truth. The Library is the academic heartbeat of an institution. We are the cumulative experience, knowledge, and passion of our people. We are the place where truth is tested and inspiration becomes reality. We are the judgment-free place where access to information is granted to all. Difference: Almost 25 years in higher education has taught me that if you want to make a difference… show up. I am a product of the transformational nature of higher education. In 1991, I showed up at the beginning of my freshman year and my life was forever changed. I worked hard, but I needed to show up first. I want that opportunity for others. I want to be a part of the solution to the problem of rising costs in education. I want to be at a place where I know every day I am making a difference. I want to go to sleep at night knowing that that day, I helped someone realize their future. UMass gives me the opportunity to challenge myself and make a difference.
What inspires you about the future of libraries?
I love the Open Education Initiative (OEI). I truly believe this program can fundamentally change the costs and accessibility of higher education. When we build curriculum and deliver knowledge through the use of open resources, the cost of higher education is drastically decreased, and higher education becomes much more accessible and affordable to so many more people. We have the opportunity to eliminate economic barriers to education for everyone. To me, OEI is like a scholarship for every student. Every single dollar dedicated to creating classrooms free of high-cost textbooks makes a difference. The best part of this is the fact that every dollar is multiplied and impacts many more than just one student. When we remove the costs of textbooks from the equation, every student benefits.
What do you know now that you didn’t know before you arrived at UMass?
Libraries aren’t just about books and a quiet place to study. Today’s library is about easily accessible, shared information. When a faculty member ignites a spark in a student, the Library is there to stoke the fire. We are not the gatekeepers of knowledge; we are here to fan the flames.
Books on Kindle and nightstand
The Last Odyssey by James Rollins
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?
by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D.
Best follows on twitter:
Emmanuel Acho: @EmmanuelAcho
Will McAvoy: @WillMcAvoyACN