Since that date, some assignments have changed, some departments have been reorganized, and some faculty and staff members featured here are no longer with the University of Tennessee Libraries. For a current list of library faculty and staff, check the Libraries’ Staff Directory. To identify the librarian who specializes in your discipline, see this list of Subject Librarians.
BIG IDEAS demand reliable information. The University Libraries supports scholarship, research, and learning at UT by acquiring, organizing, preserving, and facilitating access to the world’s knowledge. The wide-ranging expertise of our librarians might surprise you.
As executive associate dean, Rita Smith is responsible for much of what users experience when they walk through the libraries’ doors. Among her many duties, Rita administers our library facilities. With continual library moves and renovations, “the library as space” consumes a large share of her time.
Rita deploys library spaces as a means to an end: meeting students’ changing needs. She was a key player in the creation of our technology-rich learning commons in 2005 and has directed each successive enhancement, including a multi-million-dollar renovation in 2012.
In addition to oversight of all library facilities, Rita supervises business services, human resources, public services within Hodges Library, marketing and communication, library events, and the Dean’s office staff. Assessment, a unit of increasing importance on UT’s journey to becoming a Top 25 public research university, is also within her purview, as is Community Learning Services and Diversity Programs, the library department responsible for outreach to high school students and at-risk populations.
Rita works closely with the Libraries’ diversity residency program, acting as an advisor to early-career librarians who hold two-year residencies at the UT Libraries. She also serves on UT’s Council for Diversity and Interculturalism.
Rita joined the UT Libraries in 1976 as a reference librarian and for many years was head of Reference and Instructional Services. She has been a major force behind many of the Libraries’ successes — for instance the initiation of our popular AskUsNow services delivered via email, chat, and texting.
Rita holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and a master’s in library science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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