Member Spotlight: Gary McCone

Gary 2012 crop

Gary McCone

Retired Associate Director of the NAL, Information Systems Division

What do you do?
I retired from federal service in 2010, having spent my entire library career at the Library of Congress and the National Agricultural Library, with the final 15 years as Associate Director of NAL in charge of the Information Systems Division. I now volunteer for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium consulting on issues of library and information systems and seeking out consortia pricing for digital resources (thus far remarkably unsuccessful)

What brought you to AILA?
Other than growing up in eastern Wyoming and getting my MLS from the University of Arizona, my first real contact with tribal librarians was through Kathy Kaya and Mary Anne Hansen, Montana State University, and their outstanding Tribal College Librarians Institute in the late 1990s. I was so impressed with the librarians I met at the Institutes and with the challenges they faced in serving such a neglected community that I joined AILA as soon as I discovered it and have been lurking about ever since.

What other interests do you have?
My four pre-teen grandchildren live about ten minutes away and I spend as much time as possible spoiling them. I put on a dozen table tennis tournaments every year, even though I play rather poorly. I’ve been interested in languages since my Army Security Agency days when I translated Chinese Mandarin and Vietnamese and recently completed a three-year term as President of the National Museum of Language. One very nice perk to the book giveaway is that all these terrific books pass through my hands on their way to the tribes . . . and some of them linger awhile so we can get to know each other a little better.

Is there a resource or project you’d like to alert us to?
One program I’ve been working on for about 16 years is my Great Book Giveaway which has provided tens of thousands of books to tribal entities, primarily to tribal college and university libraries. I accumulate books from a wide variety of sources: Library of Congress Surplus Books Program, the National Museum of the American Indian library, the District of Columbia Chapter of the Special Libraries Association, the National Agricultural Library, the U.S. Dept. of Education, Fannie Mae, Barbed Wire Books in Longmont, CO, private donations, and many others who hear about the program and want to help. Several times each year I distribute an author/title list to TCU librarians and divvy up the books to send out. Fortunately, NAL pays for the shipping costs, so there is never any charge to receiving libraries. If more people know that there is a procedure to provide tribal libraries with quality books, we’ll be able to enhance their collections even more.

Why is AILA important to you?
Because I’m not at a tribal library nor associated with a Native American studies program, the AILA listserv and Newsletter provide me with a deeper understanding of pertinent issues in the community and also provide knowledgeable contacts whenever I feel like posing a question.