Welcome Brent Etzel

etzel5The Ross Pendergraft Library & Technology Center is thrilled to officially welcome Brent Etzel as the new Library Director.  Monday, November 3rd, marked his first day at Arkansas Tech University, taking over the position after the retirement of Bill Parton on October 31st.

Brent comes to us from Cedarville, Ohio.  While born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, he was drawn to Midwestern living through summer vacations with extended family in southern Indiana.  He attended Franklin College in suburban Indiana as a political science major, and earned a Master of Library Science degree from Indiana University.  He later earned a Master of Arts in history from Illinois State University.

After graduation, he lived all over the Midwest and wore many library hats.  He was a public librarian in Michigan, a corporate librarian in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, an academic librarian at a small college in rural central Illinois, and an academic librarian at a large, liberal arts college in the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa.  Before moving to Russellville, he was the Director of Library Public Services at Cedarville University in Ohio.

Brent at Cedarville Library 2010

Brent at Cedarville Library, 2010

When asked what started him on this path to become a librarian, Brent said, “I had spent a lot of time in my college library, not doing homework like I should have, but rather doing my own research on topics that interested me.  I realized I could get PAID to help others do library research, and so I decided to pursue that as a career.”

Of his various library jobs, he said he most enjoyed the level of research and quality of public interaction that could only be found in an academic library.  “My passion is to make students into better researchers, and it is toward that goal that I am driven to find ways to make the library more relevant and accessible to students.”

While at Cedarville, he looked for opportunities to promote in-class library instruction and develop research assignments with the teaching faculty.  In his first three years there, the library expanded the number of librarian-led instruction sessions from fewer than 60 to more than 100.

Cedarville Univ Library Orientation 2014

Cedarville University Library Orientation, 2014

At Arkansas Tech, he wants to make the services and resources that are available at the Ross Pendergraft Library & Technology Center more relevant and accessible to the students here.  “This can be done through more extensive promotion of what we have and what we do with the students, but also by developing the relationships we have with the faculty and adjunct instructors at ATU,” he noted.

One of the first things he said he wishes to accomplish here is to make better use of the space we have in the library building—specifically, to offer additional collaborative study space in the building over the next couple of years.

Brent in Osijek Croatia 2013

Brent in Osijek, Croatia, 2013

When asked about any long-term goals of things he would like to accomplish, he replied, “I would like the faculty and students of Arkansas Tech view the Ross Pendergraft Library as THE center of research activity at the university.  I want faculty and students to rely on both the quality of resources that we have, as well as the expertise and friendliness of our staff.”

Brent brings with him to Russellville his wife, Susanna, and his four children, Carolyn (age 14), Clark (age 13), Grant (age 10), and Josie (age 6).  Susanna has a pair of master’s degrees: an M.M. in music history from Southern Methodist and an M.A. in applied linguistics from Indiana University.  She often teaches English as a second language, but she has spent much of the last five years homeschooling their children.  She is also an avid pianist, enjoys swimming, and tries to do a triathlon at least once a year.

Family in Philadelphia 2014

The Etzel family in Philadelphia, 2014

When he is not hard at work in the library, Brent enjoys spending time with his family, running long distances, coaching soccer, reading or playing something on his tablet, listening to podcasts, or looking for new music & musicians on Spotify.

Brent Running 2012

As for first impressions, Brent says he was struck by the natural beauty of western Arkansas, and visited Lake Dardanelle State Park and the nearby mountains beyond Lake Dardanelle.  The biggest impression, however, was made by the people here:

“From my first contact with the people at Arkansas Tech to this day, I have been treated with exceeding kindness and hospitality and my family and I are most grateful for the good experience that this transition has been,” says Etzel.  “Also, I am amazed by the number of staff and students at Tech and people in general in Russellville who volunteer how much they enjoy being a part of this community.  I have never seen so much genuine affinity for a university & community as I have observed in my short time here.”

Please help us welcome Brent Etzel to the library, the Arkansas Tech campus, and to the state by sending a virtual casserole dish or high five to betzel@atu.edu.