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New library senior director has been at UHV since beginning

Karen Locher started her career in 1973 as the first student assistant hired by what was then the University of Houston Victoria Center to work in the library the school shared with Victoria College.

Karen Locher

Now, 47 years later, she has been promoted to senior director of the UHV Library located in UHV University Commons, 3006 N. Ben Wilson St. Before the UHV Library opened a year ago, she worked at what was the VC/UHV library on the VC campus.

“There are so many exciting things coming as the library settles into its new location, and I am proud to have this opportunity to lead,” Locher said. “I’m looking forward to working with the library staff to find ways to connect with students and become more involved on campus.”

Locher initially was named interim director a year ago when Joe Dahlstrom, the previous senior director, retired. Dahlstrom held the position for 31 years.

Chance Glenn

“We are pleased to have Karen’s experience and professionalism leading the growth of our library as UHV steps forward into new expansion,” said Chance Glenn, UHV provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Like never before, we see the significance of the library in our educational enterprise. Ms. Locher is the right person to take us even further.”

Early in her career, Locher worked for three years at the Victoria Public Library before she and her husband moved to Austin so she could go to graduate school. After she got her master’s degree in library sciences, her husband was recruited by the City of Victoria to be the new parks superintendent, so the couple returned to Victoria, and she was hired at the campus library as a government documents librarian.

In the 1980s, she was put in charge of the library’s computers after her boss found out that she and her husband had a computer at home. She’s also worked in reference and instruction. Through the years, Locher has worked in every area of the library.

Looking back, Locher has seen some major changes in how libraries function, especially in terms of technology. When she started, everything was done and tracked on paper, and librarians helped students find what they needed using card catalogues. Now, everything is accessible through computers.

“Technology is growing so quickly,” she said. “I’m grateful for the training I had in paper and keeping resources organized, but I’m also grateful for all the advances we’ve seen in computers. Never in 47 years of working in libraries have I been bored, because there were always changes and new things to learn.”

Now, as the UHV Library is settling into its own space, Locher is looking forward to what lies ahead. The library still has resources in the VC Library that eventually will be moved into storage at the UHV property at Airline Road and Laurent Street once renovations are complete. Although the libraries are no longer under the same roof, Locher knows they will continue their partnership in new ways.

“During the years when we were a joint library, we were able to provide so many excellent services that might not have been possible at that time as separate libraries,” she said. “A big part of why that worked was because even though we had two staffs and systems, our staff members worked well together because our focus was on serving the students.”

That focus is one that Locher plans to continue at the UHV Library. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the university to make changes to how students interact on campus and receive services, the library still is available during set hours.

“We miss seeing all the students as they come in to study through the semester, and we are looking forward to the day when things can safely return to normal,” Locher said. “Becoming the new senior director is an honor, and I know the library will continue to serve students whether they are from UHV, VC or the community.”

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, 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, 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.