New library director plans for customer service improvement

Mark Gottschalk did not hesitate to rush back to South Plains College when he heard the library director position was available.

Gottschalk worked at SPC’s Library on the Levelland campus for four years after arriving in 2013. He left during the summer of 2017 to take a Library Director position at Lubbock Christian University. When the Library Director position opened up at SPC, Gottschalk jumped at the opportunity to return.

“The best part of the job,” Gottschalk explained, “is being back at SPC and all the same old friends.”

He said that they have a lot of work to do at the Library, but that it is all good work and they are going to get it done.

“I have an idea of what we do really well and what we need to do to always strive to get better,” said Gottschalk, “and it’s not necessarily things that we do bad; You can always get better in certain areas.”

One example he gave was becoming better at customer service, which is one of the reasons why Gottschalk said he will be working behind a desk like a regular Librarian. He went on explaining why he will be behind a desk every once in a while, saying, “to know what you guys as students need, and the best way to get that is to actually be working with you guys and for you guys. I think it’s important.” Gottschalk said he plans to balance his work between the administrative work and being behind a desk, “so that I can see firsthand how maybe we could change something. If I’m getting the same question over and over again, then we need to figure out how to help you guys find that question or the answer to that.”

Gottschalk also said they are looking at making some changes, but that it was a little too early to say what those changes will be.

“I would say that any changes we make will be about making the Library more accessible for students,” he said. “Both so they can succeed academically and so it can kind of continue to grow as a social place on campus.”

Gottschalk grew up mostly in the northern Untitled States.

“My family is from the state of Washington in the Pacific Northwest,” he explained. “Besides that, I grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts for six or seven years when I was young.”

Gottschalk started moving south when he attended a couple of colleges. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Washington State University and a Master of Library and Information Science Degree from San Jose State University. Gottschalk says that he changed his major from history to library and information science when he realized he did not want to be a history grad student.

“I had a friend that was like, ‘You’d be a good fit in the library,’ and they got me a job at the academic library,” he said.

After a couple of years working in the Library, he decided to change his career.

“When I finished my master’s,” Gottschalk said, “I moved to Charleston, South Carolina.”

He figured he would just go live where he could get a job in libraries and gain a lot of experience. He also wanted to move to a place where he might not ever live.

“When it was time to get my next step in my career, I called up my old boss, who’s the retired director here, Mr Jim Belcher,” said Gottschalk.

He asked Belcher if there were any job openings in Texas, because he thought Texas was a great place to live. Belcher told him that they might have an opening in a few months, “so that’s kind of how I ended up out here in West Texas.

In his free time, Gottschalk helps out with the women’s basketball team as a volunteer coach, working with the post players. He also likes to read, travel into the mountains of New Mexico with his dog and girlfriend, and watch basketball.  Gottschalk says that he does not have a favorite team currently, but he has been watching teams with good coaches to try to understand what they are doing. “I’ve been watching the Celtics, because I really like Brad Stevens,” said Gottschalk, “and the Milwaukee Bucks, because their head coach, Mike Budenholzer, does some really interesting things.”

Gottschalk said that working in a library was not his planned career, and he sort of stumbled into it. But he really enjoys it and is happy to be back at the SPC Library.