Zemon announces retirement

by Beacon Staff • November 29, 2006

After seeing the completion of the college's relocation to the Theatre District, Zemon recently announced that she will resign her position as executive director of the Emerson College library in March.,Mickey Zemon has spent almost almost 25 years guiding and assisting students, faculty and administrators through research at Emerson.

After seeing the completion of the college's relocation to the Theatre District, Zemon recently announced that she will resign her position as executive director of the Emerson College library in March.

Zemon, a native of Harrisburg, Pa., has been the head of the library since 1983. She received a graduate degree in history from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore before spending five years teaching there and Boston.

After deciding to enter library administration, she earned master's and doctorate degrees from Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science. She was a librarian at Simmons when she heard from Donna Tripp, the Emerson Library's director at the time, who said that she was planning to resign from her position.

"[I've] always had a passion for the performing arts, especially dance and theatre," Zemon said. "[I] really wanted to work in an academic institution that had strong programs in these areas."

Zemon said her passion for the fine arts began at a young age.

"My parents started the first professional theatre in Harrisburg," Zemon said. "My daughter has a Masters in Educational Theatre from Emerson as well. My husband is also very big on theatre, and each summer we go to the Shaw Festival or Stratford Festival in Canada."

Ian Thistle, a 2006 Emerson graduate who now works as the assistant circulation manager, developed a great appreciation of Zemon throughout his time at Emerson.

"When I was a student here, I was on a committee that she was heading, and I was the only student on the committee," Thistle said. "She was always very receptive not only to my ideas, but to the ideas of everyone on the committee. I have always been very happy here at the library."

Bob Fleming, assistant director for access services and archives, will replace Zemon.

Fleming has also worked at the library since 1983, beginning his tenure within a few months of Zemon.

"Mickey and I started at the same time, and she has always been a mentor and a role model for me," Fleming said. "She is a mentor in both the way she leads the library and treats her staff. She has always made a point of supporting her staff members."

As a colleague, Zemon said she has great respect for Fleming and the work he has done at the library in his time as an archivist.

"One of the first decisions I made as a new library director was to hire Bob," Zemon said. "He has the qualities and experience that will make him an extremely successful executive director here at Emerson. He is admired by everyone and recognized as a person on campus that knows how to get things done. "

Kristen Kissinger, a senior audio/radio major, has been working at the library since her freshman year. Throughout her time there, she has developed a deep respect for Zemon as well as Fleming.

"Mickey is a stickler for keeping the library neat and clean," Kissinger said. "She is all about order, keeping everything organized, spick-and-span. It's been great for the library. Bob is great too, and I was very excited to hear he will be the new executive director."

Fleming said he plans on opening a dialogue with the college community to ensure that everyone's needs are met.

"I plan to make sure every constituency at Emerson has an opportunity to comment on what is important about the library," Fleming said. "Then they can have input on how the library may be improved in the future."

Zemon's time at Emerson also saw the relocation of the library from a Beacon Street brownstone to the Walker Building on Boylston Street. She said one of her strongest memories was the day the wooden card catalogs were removed from the Back Bay building.

"The card catalogs just went out the door," Zemon said. "The library had a new automated system with an online catalog that included not only our library materials but those of the other Fenway Libraries Online members as well."

Zemon said she was also proud when, in 2001, the Princeton Review voted the Emerson library among the top 20 'Great Libraries' based on students' assessment of the facilities.

Once she retires, Zemon plans to spend plenty of time traveling.

She has planned a trip to Greece and Turkey during the first two weeks in May, followed quickly by two weeks in San Francisco, and will attend the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in June. Her long-term plans also include a research project on the history of theatre in Boston.

Although she may be stepping down, Zemon said she has thoroughly enjoyed her time heading the Emerson library.

"Anyone who stays in the same job in the same place for almost 24 years has to either love what they do or be nuts," Zemon said. "I think of myself as being in the former category."