Meet the new Collections Management Division Chief: Cathy Martyniak

On November 8th, 2021 the Preservation Directorate welcomed a new Chief of the Collections Management Division (CMD). Cathleen (“Cathy”) L. Martyniak joined us from the other side of the country, moving to the greater Washington DC area from California. According to the Director for Preservation, Jake Nadal, “she will manage a Division that provides essential services to many parts of the Library”. Cathy will oversee programs that safeguards the Library’s collections through inventory management, storage and delivery of resources to fulfill user requests. In the following brief interview, Cathy shares a little bit about her journey and her expectations for the new role.

Cathy Martyniak

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about the road that brought you to the Library of Congress?

I have loved libraries since I was a small child but never considered working in one until I was an adult. During my undergraduate studies in History at the University of Minnesota, I did research on Russian wedding traditions in 17th and 18th century. I did my research using primary source materials held by the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota, where I met a librarian named Carol Urness. Not only did I find out that I loved working with Special Collections materials, but Carol helped me to realize that librarianship would be a really excellent career choice for me. So, I decided to go to library school for a Master’s degree in Library Science at the University of Pittsburgh, where I fell in love with preservation, especially due to a fantastic professor named Sally Buchanan. After completing my Advanced Study Certificate with concentration in Library Preservation, I joined Tulane in New Orleans LA) as the Head of the Preservation Department to manage overall operations of commercial binding and book repair. Then I moved to the George A. Smathers Libraries, in Gainesville (FL) where I worked in a variety of positions including Preservation Officer, Storage Officer, AV archivist and finally the Digital Asset Manager. My last position prior to LC was as the Director of University of California Southern Regional Library Facility and Collaborative Shared Print Programs, UCLA in Los Angeles (CA). In this job, I coordinated operations for high-density storage facility, digital and space management programs, among others. My career started with a fairly small preservation program and got bigger sets of responsibilities and duties at each job. I loved every part of it and wanted to save ALL the books. Now, I am bringing all the skills I have acquired over 25 years in the field to bear on this job at the Library of Congress. Challenging but exciting!

  1. How has this new journey been so far?

I worked remotely from LA for the first two months. So, it was not easy to understand the LC culture at first. Then I moved my family to greater DC area over the holiday break. Now I am so happy to be here in person, meeting the amazing staff of CMD and the wider library and getting to know the Library’s buildings on Capitol Hill and offsite facilities. It is such an exciting time to be at the Library of Congress with many projects going on, such as the new Visitor Experience Master Plan, the planning for a new Library Collections Access Platform (L-CAP) and, of course, our work with off-site facilities, especially at Fort Meade.

  1. What would you advise to those who may face the same situation of job change, family relocation to new city?

Well, while it can be very scary to take a chance on a job on the other side of the country, I encourage you to go for it.

  1. What is your vision for CMD and for preservation in general at the Library?

As the Library continues to prosper under Dr. Hayden’s leadership, my vision for CMD includes more transparency, increased communication and documentation within the Division and across the Library and expanded professional development opportunities for current and incoming staff.

  1. How do you like to spend your time outside the library?

I love hiking and am looking forward to exploring all the glorious trails that the DMV has to offer. As you might expect, I also love to read. Right now, I am reading The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. I highly recommend it. And please read anything you can get your hands on by Nnedi Okorafor. She is an amazing Science Fiction and Fantasy writer for children and adults.

Cathy visited the stacks for the first time recently, participating in the data gathering for the Stack Survey, which will be addressed in a future blog. Stay tuned!

Cathy in the Jefferson building stacks

Leave Cathy a comment below if you have any questions.

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