Donnell’s appointment as director, Library and Technology Services was announced by Dean John E. Corkery. Donnell is filling the position following the resignation of June Liebert. He will be working with staff within the library, as well as Academic Technology which includes Media Services and Distance Education, and the Information Technology Department.
After receiving a J.D. degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, Donnell practiced law in the Corporate Law Group at Katten, Muchin, Rosenman in Chicago. During his four and a half years at the firm, he handled corporate transactions and eventually specialized in transactions involving intellectual property and technology licensing. Maintaining his interest in law, Donnell realized he wanted to be in a law school setting, and decided to switch career tracks. He completed a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Donnell joined the John Marshall library reference staff part-time, and moved to a full-time employee position in April 2010. In August 2011 he was named head of Access Services, and in May 2012, he was named interim associate director for Access and Organization, with a permanent appointment in August 2012.
“Just in the five years I’ve been here much has changed,” Donnell said. “The goal is to put information at people’s fingertips whenever and wherever they need it.”
Libraries, once known for their print book and serials collections, today are winnowing down those numbers in favor of online options. The John Marshall library staff has reduced its print subscriptions and purchasing considerably, Donnell explained, but at the same time it instituted an eBook platform that uses a demand-driven acquisitions model. This new platform allows the library to make books available to patrons via their computers and devices, even off campus. The library pays a short-term loan fee for initial uses, with a purchase coming only after an e-book is requested a fourth time. “The average cost of using the e-books is lower than print purchases. I’ve been happy with this” new system, Donnell said. The e-books have been getting considerable use.
Donnell also has been helping students serving on John Marshall’s Law Review and Journal of Information Technology and Privacy Law transition to online publications. Issues are now uploaded into the John Marshall Institutional Repository, an online repository that also houses faculty scholarship. Print issues will still be available through a print-on-demand online storefront.
Despite the advances in technology, Donnell believes the people working in the library are still the heart of the operation. Reference librarians are tech savvy and are the core support links to helping students and faculty.
“We have more information to share, but it’s more complicated now to find reliable information than it has been in the past. Our librarians help make sense of all the information that’s out there,” he said.