Introducing Tim Gleisner: Interview with New Assistant State Librarian

Photo of Tim Gleisner working at his deskI am delighted to announce that Tim Gleisner assumed the position of Assistant State Librarian of Texas on August 22. Tim comes to Texas from Michigan, where his most recent position was Manager of Special Collections at the State Library of Michigan.

Tim has a long and impressive tenure in libraries, archives, and special collections. The whole team at TSLAC is eager to work with Tim, and I know he is excited to join the Texas library community. Our Communications Officer Susan Floyd sat down with Tim to learn more about his background and vision for the field and Texas knowledge institutions.

Tim Gleisner’s professional highlights include:

  • 2017-2022: Manager of Special Collections, Library of Michigan
  • 2016-2017: Assistant Director, Herrick District Library, Holland, Michigan
  • 2004-2016: Head of Special Collections, Grand Rapids Public Library
  • Native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Undergraduate degree in History/Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Master of Library and Information Science with Graduate Certificate in Archival Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Questions

You’ve been in libraries and archives for more than 25 years, and your broad experience spans work as a librarian at the New York Public Library and as head of special collections at multiple institutions. Describe one change that excites you and one thing that hasn’t changed but that still excites you about libraries and archives.

One change that excites me about libraries and archives is the ability to make materials accessible to anyone throughout the state and the world. With digitization, libraries and archives have been able to bring their collections to anyone at any time. When I started as a librarian there was just talk about this change, and during my career, I have seen this change grow into the digital collections that help libraries and archives better tell their stories.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the ability for libraries and archives to help people change their lives. As a public librarian I would help people obtain study materials for their GED, or in some cases help others find materials to learn English. As a special collections librarian, it was helping patrons find the history of their community and watching them be amazed at the history of their place. In all these situations it was the ability to help people discover new insights in themselves and their place that excited and still excites me.

You said that you knew you wanted to work in administration early in your career. What did your prior management work entail, and how will you build upon it as you begin your tenure as Assistant State Librarian?

I started as a manager at the Grand Rapids Public Library in Michigan. While there I managed the Reference and Adult Services and the Special Collections areas. In that role, I supervised more than 300 archival collections (including a collection of more than one million photographs), the Furniture Design, Rare Book, and the Michigan History Collections. To help with this, I supervised numerous staff, volunteers, and student workers while there.

After 12 years at the Grand Rapids Public Library, I went on to the Herrick District Library of Holland, Michigan. There I supervised a staff of 80 people and helped to manage all the programming, facilities, and security of the library. In this role I was also in charge of the budgeting for all the departments of the library, as well.

For the last five years I have been the manager of all the collections at the State Library of Michigan. In this role I supervised staff in reaching out to and serving a statewide audience. We accomplished this by increasing programming and services to our core audiences throughout the State of Michigan.

TSLAC has a complex set of responsibilities to the people of Texas. In addition to preserving the State Archives, the agency provides guidance and leadership in the areas of statewide library development, state and local records management, providing library service to readers with disabilities, and preserving the State Archives. What about these diverse functions drew you to the agency?

What drew me to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission were all the services that are provided through the agency. Specifically, that all the services reside under one agency in state government. This is not the case in many states, and especially Michigan. This is something that really drew me to Texas and its State Library.

What agency projects or priorities do you intend to focus on at the beginning of your tenure at TSLAC?

My focus right now is to learn all I can about TSLAC. This agency is incredibly rich in resources and talent, and I want to learn as much as I can.

On a lighter note…

TSLAC has a large collection of Texana. As a Wisconsinite bringing a valued perspective to a new state, what is your favorite part of Texas history? What are you looking forward to learning more about?

I really would love to learn more about the Spanish Colonial period. I am a history nerd, and, while in Michigan, I loved learning about the French Colonial period in that state’s history.

What books on your shelf or e-reader are begging to be read?

Right now, the main thing that is begging to be read on my shelf is a book by the Polish author Olga Tokarczuk, The Books of Jacob. I started this book and am a third of the way through it. It is a fascinating work centered on the Jewish community of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire during the 1700s. It is incredibly large and dense, and I am committed to finishing it.

What’s your all-time favorite town or city? Why? What other places in Texas are you looking forward to visiting for the first time?

My favorite city of all time is Washington, DC. The history, culture, and politics is very fascinating, and I just love to visit there anytime I get a chance.

I really want to visit Big Bend National Park. I am hoping in the next year or two to drive out there.

Do you have a catchphrase?

My favorite catchphrase is: “Don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good.”

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