Kristina Spurgin, library data strategist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill University Libraries, is one of Library Journal‘s 50 “Movers & Shakers” for 2018. The award recognizes “top changemakers who are transforming what it means to be a librarian.”
Spurgin has been with the Library’s technical services operations since 2010. She was named the organization’s first data strategist in 2016 to capitalize on her insight and ability to transform operations.
Library Journal cited her meticulous attention to leading initiatives that “improve upon existing processes and enable work that was previously impossible.”
Spurgin’s colleagues refer to her as a “data magician,” who applies high-level coding skills to create automated or semi-automated ways to tackle big problems.
Among the challenges drawing Spurgin’s attention has been providing access to more than 6,000 unique oral histories that the Library’s Southern Historical Collection maintains for the Southern Oral History Program (SOHP). Not only did Spurgin unravel garbled metadata, but she developed an input system so that non-archivist staff of the SOHP can create robust, standardized records going forward.
“Kristina was true to her job title because she is a brilliant data strategist,” said Laura Hart, an archivist at UNC-Chapel Hill. “She thoroughly reviewed a multi-layered, tangled problem that was forty-plus years in the making, unraveled it, and devised a solution that will pay dividends for years to come.”
Spurgin often refers to herself as a “fixer,” analyzing problems and making things work better. Her e-book access checker code has been adopted by libraries all over the world to ensure that they are receiving the correct titles within large packages.
But Spurgin’s supervisor, Christine Stachowicz, sees abilities that go far beyond troubleshooting. “Kristina is brilliant and resourceful, and consistently does things that we never could have imagined when we hired her.”
Spurgin told Library Journal that she advises new librarians not to be daunted.“We are all moving in ridiculously complex and busy information environments dealing with way more input than our brains have yet evolved to process.”
Spurgin is the University Libraries’s fifth Mover & Shaker. She is featured in the March 15, 2018, issue of Library Journal and on the magazine’s website.
Movers & Shakers will be celebrated at a special reception in June during the American Library Association’s annual conference in New Orleans.