Spotlight: Lisa Kemp Jones, Keeping UCLA’s Library Digitally Savvy

Posted by Lisa Kemp Jones, Head of Digital Operations and Initiatives, UCLA. I started at UCLA in 1996, landing my dream job to open and manage a large computing lab and classroom environment for students. My first colleagues were carpenters and designers as the lab was being built and the Powell library was being renovated. I hired students to run the lab, fix problems, and hand out floppy disks, and sometimes tissues to students when the computer deleted their final paper.

A lot has changed during my time at UCLA! The demand for computing facilities in the library continues to increase, despite students owning multiple devices. Also, the rooms we allocated for the lab and classrooms were not enough to accommodate all of our students’ needs. So we developed the laptop lending program, which has grown from ten laptops in 1999 to about 250 laptops at seven different library locations today.

In 2010, an opportunity came up at USC (yea, I know) to manage the technical support teams for the general assignment classrooms. I gained AV support experience and insight into how a private university operates. Despite USC’s great environment and my terrific colleagues, nearly two years later, a position opened up in my beloved UCLA library that brought me home. Hey, did I mention that I got married in the Powell library in 2000?

Since returning to UCLA from “being out sick” at USC, as my boss refers to it, my portfolio includes the library’s instructional computing, desktop computing, staff innovation, infrastructure, and development support. This year, I served as chair for the Campus Common Systems Group, which provides the technical expertise and operational perspective for UCLA’s IT governance process. Very recently, I was asked to lead the library’s strategic planning implementation effort.  It’s an incredible opportunity not only to expand my knowledge about how the library works, but also to bring an IT perspective to the process. IT isn’t just a service – it’s integral to the organization.

I didn’t enter IT in the usual way. I have a bachelor’s degree in communications from UCSD (Go Tritons!), and a master’s degree in communications management from the USC Annenberg School of Communications. In college I enjoyed doing things with technology but hated programming. I am now in the role of a translator or facilitator, which means I can use and manage technology for the greater good, and I can work with the brilliant people that architect these systems.

In my off-campus life, I’ve been married nearly 16 years, and have two awesome kids (11 and 13 years old) that I have a lot of fun with. I enjoy running, biking, swimming, cross-fit, and golf. I’ve done those crazy obstacle course races, many half-marathons, a triathlon, and one marathon. I’m continually grateful for my family and my colleagues for their support – regardless of what projects or challenges I decide to take on.


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