Getting to know some SAGE Librarians Day 3: James Wiser

As part of our effort to celebrate National Library Week, every day this week, we are showcasing five amazing librarians across the U.S. who are members of the SAGE team. These five wise librarians help us better understand the role of the librarian in the scholarly communication ecosystem, and how we can best meet library needs.

For the third interview of this series, we will meet James Wiser, the Manager of Library Relations & Sales Support at SAGE, a position he has held since January 2013. Before coming to SAGE, he was the Assistant Director of the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC), and he also served as a librarian for both Pepperdine University and General Motors. He earned an MLS from the School of Library and Information Science at Indiana University-Bloomington, where he currently serves as Past-President of that school’s Alumni Association, as well as an MBA from Pepperdine University.  He lives in Agoura Hills, CA with his wife and 80-pound Alaskan Malamute.

wiserHow long did you work as a librarian and why did you decide to make the change to publishing?

I worked as a librarian in both corporate and academic settings for 11 years.  During that time, the majority of my work dealt with electronic resource licensing, and I was always curious what it was like on this side of the fence.  I felt that changing to publishing was part of a lifelong learning process and because I’ve been a librarian, worked for a library consortium, and now work for a publisher, I feel like I have a pretty good 360-degree view of this aspect of our industry.  Moreover, I’d always been a fan of the good work SAGE does, so this was a pretty natural and easy change to make.

What’s the biggest difference between your work as a librarian and your work as a publisher?

The biggest surprise I’ve encountered, actually, is that my work isn’t that different at all.  I’ve answered questions that help people or connect people to ideas in both roles.  For most librarians, their primary motivation is to disseminate scholarship that can impact their respective communities for good, and that’s the same goal held by almost all publishers.  Our goals, therefore, are the same; we just occupy different seats on the ship that’s sailing toward that goal.  I think I didn’t realize that fact earlier in my career.

What career tips would you give your younger self if you could?

  • Take your work more seriously and yourself less seriously
  • Don’t be too scared to ask for help.
  • Try to surround yourself with people a lot smarter and more talented than yourself.

The theme for this year’s National Library Week is “Lives Change @ Your Library.” Who has made the biggest impact on your library career?

Without a doubt, the person that’s made the most impact on my career is Rick Burke, the Executive Director of the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC).  Even though he was my boss for nearly 5 years, Rick is my mentor and friend and I consider him a second father.  I didn’t think I was qualified to be the assistant director of SCELC when he approached me with the opportunity, but taking that leap has educated me so much more about this profession than any position I’d held before.  Even though he is a few decades older than I am, his youthful and visionary outlook continues to inspire – and occasionally exhaust – me.

What is one word that your pet, child, or closest friend, would use to describe you?


Make sure to come back tomorrow for the fourth part of our librarian spotlight series! For more information on what SAGE will be doing for this week, click here.

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