As the dean of the Pollak Library, Clem Guthro’s stays committed to upgrading study space and streamlining access to research to make the library a more accommodating place for students.
Interim associate dean of the library Anthony Davis Jr. said the library is nearing completion, and its staff is working on its first strategic plan to modernize the building and work with other divisions.
“Clem has sort of hit the ground running,” Davis Jr. said. “I’d say he is extremely talented in environmental scanning, knowing what the landscape is like and then making those connections.”
Originally from Canada, Guthro earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies at the University of Manitoba but he didn’t pursue a theological discipline.
While in college, Guthro worked in the campus library and his peers repeatedly urged him to explore a career as a librarian.
“There was a librarian who kept telling me I should do this,” Guthro said. “She thought that I had talent in this area and really encouraged me.”
Guthro went on to earn his master’s in library science and his doctorate in higher education leadership.
As a first-generation college student himself, Guthro is interested in serving a student population that represents California’s academic diversity.
Before coming to Cal State Fullerton, he worked as the director of the library at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, where he implemented a major renovation to the library’s off-site storage facility.
“After 14 years (at Colby College), it was time to think about something else,” Guthro said. “I was ready for a new challenge and was interested in some place bigger, certainly some place warmer.”
Guthro interviewed at three other CSU campuses before choosing CSUF.
“People talk about diversity and inclusion,” Guthro said. “I had a sense that with President García, it was more than just words … The mission here is very different and I resonate with the type of work that (CSUF) is doing.”
Guthro said he spent his first few months getting to know the campus community by “holding individual meetings with every library staff member” and unifying with other divisions across campus. He would connect with the rest of his co-workers by bringing the staff together for a social coffee break to brainstorm ideas and sample his biscotti.
“He’ll show up with baked goods that he’s personally baked,” Davis Jr. said. “Yeah, he’s pretty adept at his baking.”
Apart from building relationships, he also reached out to other library deans from local community colleges to understand how they prepare the students who come to CSUF along with establishing strategic relationships with libraries at UC Irvine, UC Riverside and UCLA to become part of a larger intellectual ecosystem.
“I could tell he’d done his research on the school,” said Donna Rader, student personnel coordinator for the Pollak Library. “He definitely wants us to be an intellectual hub … By getting more people involved with collaborative programming.”
Guthro’s efforts to create a more cohesive and engaging environment for students is just one facet of a larger plan. Davis Jr. said Guthro’s vision is to raise the profile of the library into a modernized institution and not just a warehouse for books.