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OU Libraries Employee Named 2020 Mover & Shaker by Library Journal

OU Libraries Employee Named 2020 Mover & Shaker by Library Journal

Tim Smith

Tim Smith, head of web services and artificial intelligence for the University of Oklahoma Libraries, was recently named a 2020 Mover & Shaker by Library Journal for his ability to utilize new technology to develop innovative, comprehensive solutions to problems. This is the fourth time in the last seven years an OU Libraries employee has received the award.

The Library Journal Movers & Shakers award is given annually to up-and-coming, innovative, creative individuals from around the world who are providing inspiration and model programs for others. It recognizes librarians, non-degreed library workers, publishers, vendors, coders, entrepreneurs, reviewers and others who impact the library field. Of the several hundred individuals who were nominated this year, 46 were selected to receive the award. 

“Just to be nominated is a tremendous feeling,” Smith said. “But, to be selected from so many well-qualified applicants is a truly humbling experience.”

Smith joined OU Libraries four years ago and is helping rethink how OU Libraries utilizes space and measures visitor use and engagement.

“Before joining OU Libraries, they had various ways to estimate visits and engagement, but none of them provided the definitive return on investment metrics that were needed for our increasingly data-driven campus culture,” Smith said.

Smith used an open source code written by 2009 Mover & Shaker award recipient Jason Griffey and 3D printing to create a solution that measured physical engagement while also protecting visitors’ privacy.

“Our team took Griffey’s project, tweaked it, rewrote some code and made it work for our needs,” Smith shared.

Now, with the help of Smith’s solution, OU Libraries is able to determine how long visitors stay at a specific part of an exhibit, proving that many prefer to spend time on timelines and graphic-based content over text-based content.

Smith has also led the charge on five other large projects for OU Libraries – Library Chatbots; PAIR, a global resource of artificial intelligence projects in higher education; a statistics dashboard that is a live visual for various metrics across the libraries; a room reservation system that handles thousands of reservations a week for study rooms, meetings rooms and conference rooms; and an assignment calculator that allows students to select various criteria about assignments that are due and receive a step-by-step timeline of what they need to do to complete the assignment on time.

The Library Chatbot project on utilizes machine learning to answer basic library questions and search the catalog, website and research guides.

Smith’s interest in artificial intelligence also inspired the development of PAIR, or Projects in Artificial Intelligence Registry for Higher Education. PAIR is a global directory of AI projects in higher education that fosters cross-institutional collaboration and supports grant activity in the field.

“I’m very motivated by things that fascinate me, but I don’t yet understand,” Smith said. “I want to solve real problems and help improve society.”

By Mackenzie Scheer

Article Published:  Wednesday, June 3, 2020