David King (MS '78, PhD '94) believes libraries must be reinvented to meet the needs of professional practitioners. This "out of the box" mindset has led him to design and build digital libraries for professionals providing services to victims of crime and abuse.
"Hundreds of thousands of professionals provide health-related services around the country. They are urged to employ evidence-based practices, but have no access to current research literature and other important resources," King said. "Psychologists and doctors, nurses and social workers, first responders and legal advocates, and so on. University libraries cannot or are unable to develop collections and services for them. Public libraries don't have the research literature or the expertise. Open-access collections and victim-services websites are mostly a hodge-podge. And more importantly, the basic philosophy and priorities of traditional libraries are just completely off target for practitioners in the field."
In 2003, King launched the Child Abuse Library Online (CALiOTM), a digital library that has become the primary resource for professionals working in the field of child abuse nationally and internationally, including more than 900 Children's Advocacy Centers throughout the U.S. The CALiO model was subsequently adopted for the Center for Victim Research Library, which he guided to launch in 2017. Both are funded by U.S. Department of Justice grants.
King's professional career includes serving as director of libraries at New York Academy of Medicine and Georgia Health Sciences University and holding faculty positions at the Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center and University of California San Francisco. In 2007, he founded his own digital libraries consulting service, Amphissa Digital.
Although he retired from his day-to-day work in medical libraries in 2013, he has no plans to stop consulting. And he continues to contribute frequently to conferences on special libraries and open access repositories, as well as abuse and trauma.
"This is not a job. I do this because I can be creative, pursue new innovations in library services, and because I believe there is a serious unmet need. Of course, I enjoy doing something that is firmly rooted in our profession, yet very different from traditional libraries," he said.
King was recently honored by the National Children's Advocacy Center for his leadership, vision, and continued commitment to child abuse services, child safety, and welfare.
He credits the iSchool with expanding the breadth and depth of his awareness of the history and traditions of the LIS profession while also exposing him to novel ideas. King applied to the five best library schools in the country and was accepted to all of them with financial support. He chose Illinois because of its reputation.
"When I was a student assistant working in the Auburn University Main Library, the director of the library was Clyde Hull Cantrell. He was one of the old school 'characters' of our profession, who wore a suit with a vest every day, carried a cane just for show, wore a hat, etc. But I admired him. Dr. Cantrell was, I believe, the very first PhD graduate of the University of Illinois library school. I asked him which [graduate school] he thought I should choose. He said, very pompously, 'David, if you want to be a librarian, go to any one of them. If you want to be more than just a librarian, go to Illinois.'"