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Team Member Spotlight: Gretchen Freeman

July 12, 2022

As our Principal Librarian/Strategist, Gretchen Freeman provides Tech Logic with the kinds of irreplaceable insights that only a librarian can bring—drawing from more than 40 years of experience implementing technology for libraries and library partners. Formerly, while serving as the Associate Director for Technology at Salt Lake County Library, Gretchen led the library’s IT organization (21 libraries) in a comprehensive RFID conversion and an implementation of Tech Logic solutions throughout the library. Under her leadership, Salt Lake County Library reached achievements like 97% self-checkout adoption.  

Gretchen joined the Tech Logic team in 2015 and continues to help libraries automate their workflows so that they can focus on connecting with patrons. We encourage you to contact us if you have any questions for Gretchen about library technology and workflow in your unique space.

To help us get to know Gretchen, we asked her a few questions:

Gretchen, how would you summarize your mission as Tech Logic’s Principal Librarian/Strategist?

Gretchen: I would summarize my work with Tech Logic in the following three ways:

  • To apply my experience working with Tech Logic solutions in real-world settings that result in time and cost savings for libraries.
  • To bring experience and analysis of library workflows when adopting new technologies for the vital work of libraries.
  • To provide a librarian’s perspective to all areas of Tech Logic including sales, product development, marketing, and customer support.

Could you please tell us about some of your most impactful initiatives and experiences in the library industry? How have these initiatives and experiences shaped and equipped you as a partner for libraries?

Gretchen: My background is unique in that I have spent considerable portions of my career as a librarian alternating between library and vendor environments. In my years working at Dynix, I created and grew its first Customer Service division and also served as the company liaison to the expanding user group. This experience of being a liaison between libraries and their technology provider helped me understand the perspectives of both. My experience also gave me a deep understanding of Integrated Library System (ILS) software development, which helps me envision solutions to library technology challenges.

My tenure at Salt Lake County Library overseeing a large IT organization gave me an appreciation for the technology environment surrounding and integrating with the ILS. I also gained an understanding of the larger political ecosystem in which libraries operate. I grew the IT organization there to support a busy multi-branch urban library system deploying numerous technology solutions. It offered valuable insights into the complexities of IT project implementations and the “ripple effects” of new workflows throughout the system.

Could you tell us a bit about how you became connected with Tech Logic and why you decided to come aboard as our Principal Librarian/Strategist?

Gretchen: My first large-scale assignment at Salt Lake County Library was to procure and implement RFID and self-checkout starting in 2005. Because of building and remodeling projects, the RFID implementation lasted five years and also came to include security gates, automated materials handling systems, and shelf-management using staffCIRC TRAK.  Tech Logic partnered with us to make sure we were taking advantage of the capabilities of each solution—achieving 97% self-checkout adoption, developing the new AV X-range overlay tag, earning 98% customer satisfaction with AMH, and using staffCIRC TRAK to implement a totally new way for real-time exceptions scanning. As a result, I often consulted with other libraries who were starting the same journey with similar process and workflow changes.

When my husband and I made the decision to finish our work lives in Utah and move to the Pacific Northwest, Gary Kirk, Tech Logic’s President, called to ask if I might be interested in continuing that library consulting work. I agreed because I believed it had value for the company and its customers. Today, RFID has passed the tipping point to become a tried-and-true library technology solution—one that I enthusiastically endorse!

In your opinion, what are some of the most impactful and unique ways that Tech Logic’s services and solutions empower libraries?

Gretchen: I would summarize Tech Logic’s unique differences with the following:

  • Tech Logic and [Tech Logic’s parent company] The Library Corporation (TLC) bring decades of experience working with libraries. They understand the work of libraries and offer creative new technologies with a dependable track record.  
  • Tech Logic’s products aren’t “one size fits all” solutions. They are adaptable and customizable to bring efficiency within various library sizes, types, and goals.  
  • Tech Logic staff work exclusively with libraries, providing support based out of their headquarters in Minnesota. This means personalized, expert service from trusted veterans—a huge benefit for libraries who depend on their vendors for hands-on support.  
  • Tech Logic products are built to last and built to perform every day for years to come.  What good are lesser products that require continual repairs and interrupt services that the library’s patrons depend on?

How would you summarize your view on the unique ways in which libraries empower their communities? How do you expect this to expand and/or adjust in the coming years?

Gretchen: Libraries empower their communities in ways like the following:

  • Libraries welcome anyone who comes through their doors—not as paying customers, but as members of a community who are committed to individuals thriving through entertainment, education, and impactful programs  
  • Libraries are learning centers for their patron communities.  From mothers bringing tiny tots to Storytimes, to robotics classes for teens, to social engagements throughout our lives. Libraries continue to be vital technology centers crossing the digital divide. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned firsthand that certain student populations depended on WiFi and Internet access through their libraries for remote learning. Libraries had students camped in their parking lots to access WiFi when buildings were closed. Libraries teach technologies to those for whom e-books or email accounts are brand new or to those who want to learn hands-on the latest technology tools.
  • Libraries focus on children learning literacy skills and learning to read. Libraries advocate for these skills as vital for children’s success in school. No other cost-free organization is more invested than libraries in preparing all children to read.
  • Libraries assist patrons in creating resumes or applications for jobs and government services when there may be nowhere else to turn.

I believe that libraries will contribute even more to community learning initiatives in a post-pandemic world of alternatives to classroom experiences. I believe that libraries will be an even larger part of a community’s safety net to identify and refer patrons who are facing a variety of economic, mental, or physical health issues. I believe libraries will embrace serving a growing diversity of patrons speaking multiple languages. Finally, I believe that training for librarians and library staff will expand far beyond their expertise in library materials and services. Library staff will be trained as advocates for a vital institution in politically charged environments.    

Would you care to share any fun facts about yourself, inside or outside of work?

Gretchen: I’ve been working in library technology for so long that I remember microfiche catalogs and my library’s first Apple-2E computer!  When we implemented an early Dynix ILS in 1985, I was hooked on its power to entirely change how the library operated. I loved designing new workflows with staff and new services for patrons—and I still do.  

My husband and I are both readers (narrative non-fiction being a favorite genre) and enjoy streaming opera performances from New York’s Metropolitan Opera.  

Because we live in Oregon—and in one of the country’s leading wine-producing regions—we enjoy our outings to wineries and to the beautiful Oregon coast.

If you have any additional questions for Gretchen or you would like to connect, please feel free to reach out to Tech Logic for a connection.

Tech Logic connects libraries with their communities through dynamic, innovative, and efficient workflow technologies—delivering unparalleled service and outstanding patron experience. Since 1997, we have worked exclusively with libraries to develop solutions that empower library patrons and staff.