Getting to know you….all about you!
Each month we interview someone in the Library and learn a little bit about them. Today we are getting to know John Wilkin. John Wilkin became the 15th University Librarian and Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Dean of Libraries on August 16, 2013. Before arriving at Illinois, Dean Wilkin compiled over 25 years of professional academic experience at the University of Michigan. His most recent position there was the Executive Director, HathiTrust and the Associate University Librarian for Publishing and Technology. Dean Wilkin also served as the Interim Co-University Librarian during his service as Associate University Librarian for Library Information Technology and Technical and Access Services. He spent two years at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville as their Systems Librarian for Information Services. An extensive listing of publications and presentations over the years demonstrates academic expertise in digital collections, technology, access, the HathiTrust and scholarly communication. Dean Wilkin has also received prestigious grants and awards, and participated in national and international partnerships. He is also active on a number of distinctive national executive committees.
Where is your hometown?
“Hometown” is one of those funny things for those of us who moved around a lot. I was born in KC, MO, but by the time I was 9 and I settled in Louisville, Kentucky, I had lived in five different cities. To make it simple, I tell people I’m from Louisville.
What did you have for lunch, where and with whom?
Leftover pizza at my desk!
Best high school memory?
Best?? Oh, I think probably running for student council on a platform that included calls for “End[ing] 2nd Class Status of Women” and “End[ing] Racist Oppression.”
What does a perfect weekend afternoon consist of?
Almost always it’s a combination of family and exercise and cooking and eating. I like to indulge in cooking and eating, and big exercise usually makes me feel better about that, and doing it all with family is the absolute best.
What is your favorite childhood book? Do you still have it?
I’m really not sure! I did run into Great Expectations fairly early on and remember it propelling me to think differently about the way a story gets told. I think we have at least one copy in the house.
What is your favorite book today?
I have too many favorites. I am an avid reader of the quarterly, Granta, though, and continue to stick with it through the decades and the changes in editorial leadership.
If you could travel anywhere where would you go and why?
I have a really warm spot for Tuscany, again tied up with epicurean indulgence, exercise and family.
Do you have a favorite pet?
Current? Ares, the overly affectionate cat. All time? Probably Zach, our late Husky-Shepherd mix. He had a deep soul.
What is your favorite movie?
That’s way too hard! If at right this moment I had to pick something that I’d want to see again tonight, it would be King of Hearts. Believe me when I say that this has nothing to do with the way my work day has been going!
Who do you take after, your mother or your father or both?
What would you order for your last meal?
Grilled rack of lamb with garlic and rosemary, roasted fingerling potatoes, salty fava beans and a Brunello.
Who do you have on your iPod?
We keep our music collection online and stream it in the house, so it’s too big to fit our regular portable devices. What I transfer to my phone depends on my mood, but I always include Lucinda Williams, Neko Case, and the complete set of “tribute” albums we’ve assembled.
Favorite TV show?
Oh, again, too tough, but maybe Oz or Luther or The Wire.
What can’t you live without?
Apologies for sounding corny, but the people I love.
If you could invite three living people to dinner who would they be?
I’ll need to think on this one for a while …
You’ll see a little bit of a theme here (that is, I have a hard time choosing), but I think winning the initial circuit court decision with HathiTrust is waaaay up there for me. I don’t think we’ve fully fathomed the way that this changes the way libraries can do their work.
What was your first job and how much did you make?
My first professional job was teaching high school in Harrisonburg, Virginia in 1984 for $14,000/year. I got an extra bump for having a master’s degree.
Do you have a hobby or something you do to relax?
I suspect this is getting old: cooking and exercise.
Do you have a bad habit?
How do you handle stressful situations?
Best piece of advice anyone has given you?
Follow Arthur Ashe’s precept: Start where you are, Use what you have. Do what you can.
Best advice that you would give?
Start where you are, Use what you have. Do what you can.
If there is someone you think we ought to get to know please contact Zoe, firstname.lastname@example.org.