Rachel Smiley has a lot to offer in her new position


Photo by Alexa Weisbond

Rachel Smiley (right) is excited to start her new position and bring experience from previous jobs.

Alexa Weisbond, Reporter

California Lutheran University welcomes Rachel Smiley, who started her role as the director of the Pearson Library in July of 2022. Smiley was previously director of libraries at a performing arts college in Hollywood, where she oversaw two different libraries, one in Los Angeles  and one in New York.

When thinking about her goals for being the new director of the Pearson Library at Cal Lutheran, Smiley said she will be focusing on community building, increasing the visibility of the library and thinking about how to optimize and improve the library to hopefully make the library staff, the students and faculty’s lives easier. 

“I’m really wanting to focus on building relationships with students, with faculty and with staff across campus, so that the library reflects everyone’s needs, and the library feels like we’re in touch with the community,” Smiley said.

Also, Smiley said she is looking forward to taking the skills she gained from being the previous director of libraries to the Pearson Library at Cal Lutheran.

“I really got to explore kind of the administrative side of libraries, thinking about collection development and planning for the future, so it’s really exciting to see this position at CLU open up to think about the growth of the library and the growth of the school,” Smiley said.

Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Success Matt Ward said this is a role that has not been fulfilled in the Pearson Library in more than two decades.

“Many years ago, we had someone who was in charge of ITS in the library and that role was not filled for several years,” Ward said. “We hired a Chief Information Officer or CIO to oversee IT, but then we were left with no lead for the library.”

Meghan Kwast, librarian and head of collection management services at the Pearson Library, said she and her team are particularly excited to bring Smiley onboard, especially with her previous academic library background and having held library administrative positions before.

“Rachel brought so much tangible experience with collaboration and a human first approach to bringing students onboard, and getting their advice and experience, and keeping the minds and realities what her staff members and her team could accomplish and what we hope to accomplish,” Kwast said. “It was really just the right place at the right time for where we’re hopefully gonna see the library go working with the greater campus community.”

Another big part of Smiley’s role is having a big picture thinking approach, according to Kwast.

“She trusts us, her team, to do the day to day work, as well as the specialized work, so for collections, it’s collections analysis and purchasing, whereas Rachel is looking at this umbrella top-down approach. It’s how do each of our functional units in the library work together but also how does the library work with the greater community,” Kwast said.

Since Cal Lutheran is a bigger school than the one Smiley came from, she is looking forward to integrating the library into the greater part of the campus community.

“I’m really excited to just hear about what everyone’s doing and if it’s possible for the library to be involved, so talking to students, talking to faculty, talking to global education, you know, how can the library support other departments on campus, is really exciting,” Smiley said. 

Ward is looking forward to having Rachel on board, especially with her student-centric mentality and what she brings to Cal Lutheran.

“Her experience at Scripps College as undergrad herself, and her professional past to get to this position has really informed the template to do great work here, so I’m excited. She’s really student-centric in the way she thinks about the library and I think that will benefit future generations of students,” Ward said.

Kwast said the first library newsletter was a big deal for the Pearson library and its team, especially because it was implemented by Smiley and went out to the whole Cal Lutheran community.

“While it seems really simple, [the newsletter’s] a big deal for our team to not only have one created, but to have one that can go out to the entirety of the community as opposed to just faculty or just staff,” Kwast said.

Kwast said the team at the Cal Lutheran library is excited seeing what Smiley will accomplish for students and how she will accommodate what they need from the Pearson library space.

“We think that she is gonna do a great job on advocating not only for her team, but also for the students and what the students need from this space, not just what a library is traditionally known to be, or even what Cal Lutheran’s library has previously functioned as, but what our current and coming student populations are going to need and how we can realistically and humanly accomplish that as a team,” Kwast said.