University of Southern California

New Director for MMLIS
USC Marshall brings on library leader to helm Master of Management in Library and Information Science program
March 2, 2017 • by News at Marshall

USC Marshall’s Master of Management in Library and Information Science (MMLIS) has a new director—and full accreditation from the American Library Association (ALA).

USC alumnus Dr. Gary Shaffer, former CEO of the Tulsa City-County Library, was named director of the MMLIS program in October, but arrived on campus to start the job in January.

“I am thrilled and excited to be back at USC,” he said. “As a library professional, I always felt our profession needed a graduate degree in management, so I am even more excited to return to USC to lead the MMLIS.

“Our program is a one-of-a-kind online-only master’s degree designed to create the next generation of library leaders.”

Shaffer earned a master of professional writing in 2003. In addition, he holds a master of library and information science from the Pratt Institute, a master of laws in intellectual property from the University of Turin and a Ph.D. in managerial leadership from Simmons College. As a child his family split their time between Santa Ana and a cattle ranch in Idaho.

In addition to leading the 24-location Tulsa library system, Shaffer was a Public Urban Library Service Education (PULSE) Fellow at Brooklyn Public Library and held librarian and managerial positions in the County of Los Angeles and Sacramento public libraries. He is an active member of the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE), the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), and Reforma, a national organization that promotes library services to Spanish-speaking communities.

Through IFLA, he serves as a delegate to the United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organization Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights in Geneva.

“Gary’s leadership experience and his interdisciplinary research on management strategy will help the USC Marshall MMLIS build upon the excellent work Ken Haycock has done as the program’s founding director,” said Catherine Quinlan, dean of the USC Libraries. “The Marshall School is known for its excellent student experience and for graduates who make tangible impact in their areas of research and practice. Gary will help make certain that our MMLIS graduates take their place among Marshall alumni who advance their fields in world-changing ways.”

More Libraries than Starbucks

Not too surprisingly, beyond his leadership abilities, Shaffer is passionate about libraries and their mission. “Libraries are my first love,” he said. “I discovered the world there. As a child we would go to the library every two weeks.”

He made a career switch to librarianship from advertising because, “I’d rather sell you reading and literacy than stuff you don’t necessarily need.”

Libraries, he said, adapted to today’s hyper-connected, mobile world. “There are 17,000 public libraries in the U.S. alone,” he said. “More than there are Starbucks or McDonald’s. To me that suggests they’re alive and well. Public libraries have evolved to become, in many ways, a safety net for many communities and individuals.”

Librarians are still stereotyped in the media, Shaffer said. But modern librarians are less about shushing and shelving books and more about navigating mountains of data. There are growing needs for corporate, government and academic librarians who can corral the “noise” and locate the exact data needed. They must be skilled at information architecture and building databases. Most importantly, there is a great need for managers with those skills.

New Accreditation

The MMLIS degree was created in 2013 to meet just this need. It was designed and initially led by Ken Haycock, a longtime library and information science educator who had designed the online MLIS program at San Jose State.

Quinlan approached USC Marshall as a natural home for a program aiming to teach management and leadership skills to a select group of professionals since an academic school partner was needed in order to grant degrees. USC’s original School of Library Services which granted the Master of Library Science degree ceased operations in 1987, said Quinlan.

The MMLIS program won full accreditation on the fastest track possible, she said, “largely owing to Haycock and our excellent faculty.” The program received full, 7-year accreditation.

Accreditation solidifies the status of program graduates among professional librarians with the standard credential in the field, thus making their degree that much more valuable.

“Our program and our graduates are now even better positioned to shape the future of libraries and librarianship,” said Quinlan.

The MMLIS program has graduated seven cohorts so far, and with the new accreditation, Shaffer sees further successes. “I wish to tap the resources we have here, both at USC Marshall and also other schools such as the Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism,” he said. “It’s an exciting time to be a librarian.”


About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.