New manager hits books at AEDC technical library

New manager hits books at AEDC technical library

Allen Stuart Gaetjens

Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn -- The next chapter has begun for AEDC's Technical Library with the recent arrival of the library's new manager, Allen Stuart Gaetjens. He came to the center from Illinois College, Jacksonville, Ill. The position had been vacant since Gay Goethert retired last year after running the 54-year-old library for 30 years.
Mr. Gaetjens said coming to AEDC to run a specialized library has provided him with a welcomed challenge.
"For me, coming from a small liberal arts college to a place like AEDC with its technical and engineering-oriented library - that's a big change," he said. "I do have a background in math and science - so, it's not foreign to me. I can understand basic physics, chemistry and math concepts.
"I think a library manager should be able to use everything in the library, as well as do all the administrative and library PR (public relations) functions."
Mr. Gaetjens' first goal is to learn more about the base in general and the library specifically, to evaluate the assets already in place, including online databases and the level of automation.
He's already thinking about the future, but is the first to admit there is a lot to learn.
"I had no knowledge of AEDC prior to applying," he said. "I just read about it after reading the job ad. After learning more about it, I was impressed. I am busy now getting to know people, learn my way around and learn more about the history of AEDC."
His vision for the library is simple - to move forward with rapidly evolving technologies and increased automation - but not too aggressively.
"One of the trends in libraries is the movement from print to online resources," he said. "We see this in the bigger world as well, as information we are dependent on goes online in the form of databases. Obviously, we already have quite a few databases here and access to online archives. One of my philosophies is not to do something too quickly."
This librarian knows from first-hand experience what happens when a library rushes headlong into automation and converts years of publications and other documents to a digital format, destroying all of the original material, only to find critical portions were missed and permanently lost in the process.
He favors a robust, but more organized and careful approach to ensure the most important materials are retained, or considered for retention, in the center's archives.
"I don't like to move too quickly because software vendors can change what they offer and other things can happen that cause unpleasant surprises," he said. "I've seen what happens when an organization is the first one to adopt something before there are standards. For example, sometimes a library will forge ahead with an advanced, but homegrown cataloging system that lacks the integration necessary to allow acquisitions to communicate with cataloging and make it possible for both of those to communicate with the public access.
"I would rather aim more towards the middle - strike a balance that is more orderly and sustainable over the long haul."
Mr. Gaetjens said it's also important to strike a balance between work and home life. His family, which includes his wife, Cara; their two sons, Will and Tom; and daughters, Linnea and Britta; are still getting settled into their home in Tullahoma.