Ray Takes Reins of Smiley Library

After working for more than 15 years in education and libraries, Central Methodist University’s new director of Smiley Library is bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Fayette campus. Holly Ray began her new position at the start of July and has hit the ground running with efforts to elevate the library even further.

Ray, who now resides in Columbia, has a background full of various experience in education, teaching in both public and private settings, as well as serving as a private chess instructor for 10 years. More recently, though, she has found her passion in libraries after working as a graduate assistant in an academic library. She went on to serve as an outreach librarian in Hays, Kan. while pursuing a master’s degree from Florida State University.

“That gave me a really great background and excitement for collection development and management and assessing the needs of diverse groups and working with a wide range of patrons and communities,” Ray said of her time developing the outreach program.

Her responsibilities as the director of Smiley library will mirror that role in some ways, as she will be overseeing the library’s initiative to promote its resources to the entire CMU community, especially faculty and students.

“I am excited to work with faculty to promote new and lower-cost resources for their classes, including OERs (open educational resources) and a culture of open education, where we can get as many resources to faculty to support their curriculum as possible,” she said.

Ray says she is also excited by the prospect of working with the other departments housed in the library building, such as the Center for Learning and Teaching and Digital U. Those initiatives, along with the existing library staff, she believes, will make a great group of people working together for the benefit of the entire campus.

“There’s a lot of experience and knowledge and passion on the staff already, and I hope to leverage that and hire some new people for positions that will create a really strong team,” said Ray. “We’ll be able to start a lot of exciting and innovative projects to redefine how students and faculty see the library and what we can offer them.”

Ray and the team have already begun thinking about how to jumpstart library programming again to get back to the pre-COVID level of engagement, and they are looking forward to brainstorming more in the near future.

Aside from her work life, Ray has enjoyed the move to Missouri with her husband and son, with whom she has been enjoying the state’s natural spaces. As a family, they do a lot of hiking, exploring, and fishing and hope to do more as the summer heat subsides.

“I’m hoping that as the weather cools down, we’ll do a lot more camping and we’ll get to the Ozarks and just spend a lot of time outside,” she said.

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