In spite of his degrees in English, Social Studies, Library Science and Higher Education Administration, the word "retirement" is one that Dr. William F. "Bill" Mears doesn't seem to comprehend.
After retiring as director of the Learning Resource Center at Texas State University-San Marcos eight years ago, Bill stayed retired for about three months. First, he ventured up the interstate to serve as acting director of the library at the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in 2001. After that, he became the library director at the Lockhart Prison Facility.
The following year (2002) Mears began a new journey when he became the director of the Kyle Community Library, a post he continues to hold.
|The Kyle Library, located at 409 West Blanco Street, is a fairly typical community library offering a variety of print and electronic services to the burgeoning Hays County population. Library hours, services, and an on-line catalog may be easily accessed at the institution's web site .|
The Kyle Community Library appears to be a perfect fit for Bill Mears, a man who loves and understands just about everything about libraries, including the many changes that advanced technology and user habits have brought about.
|Personal computers have changed the way libraries work. A large percentage of patrons now come to Google their research questions and go to reference librarians and traditional reference works only when they get stuck. When Bill came to Kyle there were seven public-use PCs; now there are are nineteen with five more on order. Teaching free computer classes has become an important and enjoyable part of Bill's work.||Relatively new at the Kyle library is a nascent local history collection which seeks to preserve the sources of the community's past. Bill wishes resources were available to initiate an oral history program to augment the collection.|
Bill Mears came to Southwest Texas State University as associate director of the Learning Resources Center in 1976. "Learning Resources Center" was a popular name in the 1970s as traditional college and university libraries were combined with campus audio visual and multi-media operations. Although the name trend reverted back to "library," as the computer and electronic resources have become increasingly important to library operations.
By the time the Mears family arrived in San Marcos, Bill had taught English at two Florida high schools for nine years, served as the director of public services librarians at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg and had chalked up four years as director of the Learning Resources Center at Owens Technical College in Perrysburg, Ohio.
A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, Bill obtained his first bachelor's degree from the University of Tampa in English and Social Studies in 1960. He received a second bachelor's in Library Science and Audio Visuals from the University of South Florida in 1963. In 1970, he received a master's degree in Library Science with a minor in Audio Visuals from the University of Southern Mississippi. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1974 in Higher Education Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Dr. Mears applied his special knowledge and skills to several volunteer projects that could have been full-time jobs. A long-time member of the board of directors of the LBJ Museum of San Marcos, he organized an acquisitions inventory system and a website for the museum. Although he has since stepped down from the museum board, current board members continue to value the special knowledge and hard work he brought to getting the museum up and going. He has also served on the board of the San Marcos Public Library. His current memberships include Phi Delta Kappa, Texas Library Association, TexShare Card Board of Directors, and the Central Texas Library Associations' Executive Committee.
On the personal front, Bill and his wife Ann have three adult daughters, all graduates of San Marcos High School and residents of Houston.
One of Dr. Mears' special accomplishments at Texas State was working as the liaison with the architect to develop and implement plans for the university's current Albert B. Alkek Library. He oversaw the completion of the building and the move of library holdings into the new facility.
Bill is very proud of the fact that he was the first person interviewed for the American Library Association's national oral history project to gather life histories of experienced librarians as they exit their careers. His history is easily accessible to colleagues, students, and less experienced librarians though a digital library. See ALAOralHistory.
His varied experiences--including his active volunteerism and his architectural planning liaison work--have helped prepare him for his current venture--guiding the City of Kyle through the process of planning for the construction of a new community library building. One of the fastest growing areas in the IH-35 corridor, Kyle is predicted to outgrow Hays County's largest city, San Marcos, in the next ten years.
|The Kyle Library has outgrown its space. Here Bill has pulled a book out of the open-stack collection to show just how tight space has become. But relief is on the way. The community is committed to build a new library, and the resources in this growing area are available. At issue is the political question regarding where the building should be located--in town or on the periphery.||Until a decision is made on location and an architect is chosen, detailed plans for the new facility are not possible. Here Bill examines the general recommendations he intends to offer when it is time for the next step.|
In his interview with the American Library Association, Bill made it clear that in his view service is mainly what libraries are about. "It is really fun," he said, "to have the right book to help the right person at the right time." He revels in the opportunities and challenges in Kyle, and he does not plan to give up the fun any time soon.