UHV Library director retires after 31 years

As Joe Dahlstrom prepares to retire as senior director of the University of Houston-Victoria Library, he can look back on a career full of growth and helping students find the resources they need to succeed.

Joe Dahlstrom

Dahlstrom will retire on Wednesday after working since 1988 in the UHV Library, previously the Victoria College/UHV Library. Before coming to UHV, he had worked 16 years in various other librarian positions at Hardin-Simmons University and the San Antonio Public Library System. After he retires, Dahlstrom will move to the Austin area and continue to serve part time as the interim executive director of the Texas Library Association. Dahlstrom and his wife, Ruth, have both served as president of the association.

Bob Glenn

“Joe has served UHV and VC students for years through his excellent leadership of the joint library,” UHV President Bob Glenn said. “Now, as UHV prepares to move into its new library space, we are sad to see him go, but we are grateful for the years he dedicated to helping students find the tools and resources to succeed in their education.”

Dahlstrom first became interested in working in libraries when he was doing his graduate work at the University of Texas at Austin in the university’s music library. At the time, he was pursuing additional graduate work in music and was a student worker in the library.

“I liked knowing that I could help people find the resources they needed,” he said. “That’s been one of many enjoyable experiences throughout my years of working in libraries.”

Dahlstrom remembers how things were when he first was hired. Until a few months ago, UHV and VC had one shared library, and Dahlstrom was hired through a joint hiring committee. Now that UHV has grown and the new University Commons student center and library is nearing completion, UHV will have its own library.

“Both institutions were focused on offering a library that could serve the needs of their students,” he said. “It made the experience that much more enjoyable because the focus was always on serving everyone equally and doing what was best for the students.”

During Dahlstrom’s time as senior director, the library staff has participated in collaborations with the Victoria Public Library, the Fort Bend County Libraries system and even some in other UH System university libraries. The library staff also took part in projects and initiatives such as an oral history project to preserve stories of Vietnamese refugees on the Texas coast, collecting primary source research materials such as journals from Civil War soldiers, Banned Books Week events and even hosting history conferences.

“The library staff participated in so many interesting things, and I want to thank everyone for their efforts,” Dahlstrom said. “We were fortunate to have a stable library staff that enjoyed working and being part of the team. I can’t speak highly enough of all of them and their work.”

In addition to collaborations and projects, the library staff also added new services and resources under Dahlstrom’s leadership. This includes databases, online resources and assistance, and instructional programs.

Karen Locher

Once Dahlstrom retires, Karen Locher, associate director of the UHV Library, will step into the role of interim senior director. She has worked at the library for more than 35 years.

“Joe has led the library during a time when libraries in general have seen more changes and developments than ever before,” Locher said. “He was the kind of leader who allowed and encouraged library employees to make changes and add new resources to keep up with shifts in technology and needed services. As a result, the library has flourished and continues to offer relevant services to students.”

In addition to his work with the library, Dahlstrom served on the boards or was involved with numerous community organizations. These included chair of the Museum of the Coastal Bend Advisory Board, president of the Crossroads Community Band, president of the Victoria Fine Arts Association, member of the Victoria County Historical Commission, board member of Victoria Preservation Inc., and member of the Victoria Northside Rotary Club.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.