Ron worked at Macalester from 1984-2019 in a variety of positions, including: Evening/Weekend Supervisor, Head of Circulation, Systems Librarian, and Research & Instruction Librarian for the Sciences. Central to all his roles was Ron’s abiding concern for students. He was dedicated to bettering the student experience at Mac, and worked tirelessly for their benefit. Being Ron, he often came up with new project ideas that were ambitious (sometimes overly so), but fun. For several years he produced an online gaming experience for incoming students to complete over the summer: The DeWitt Code was one version of that game, followed by a Harry Potter-themed version. Seeing a gap on campus, he offered workshops for students to learn software such as Dreamweaver and Adobe Photoshop, teaching himself the software first. He created a series of summer instruction sessions to reach science students working on research projects. Ron always had candy for students in his classes and in his office, and would hold a surprise snack break for all students studying in the library on one of the last weekend days during finals. The students would swarm down from nooks and crannies throughout the building, loading up on chips, fruit, cookies, and drinks. Most recently, Ron had become a strong advocate for Open Education Resources, believing in their potential to help students and faculty in their courses. He recognized the economic benefits of free and open resources, but also saw how OER give faculty the ability to create content that better meets their individual needs. He traveled to Austria to help with one OER project, teaching faculty how to operate equipment and create metadata for their language curriculum. He worked closely with an Education faculty member in her course, developing activities for the students, attending every class session, and helping her to create a new and unique textbook.

As a colleague, Ron was incredibly supportive and generous and…argumentative.  But the point of the arguments was to help us reach consensus through rigorous debate, to the benefit of patrons.  As he changed offices during his job shifts, he left a trail of mini-fridges that his colleagues continue to use to this day.  His door was always open for folks to come in to chat, and we all did. People from across campus stopped by to talk with Ron. He was the first to volunteer, especially for unpopular shifts at the service desk (noon, for example, or late night Reunion events). In more recent years, he always volunteered to help proctor new students during the campus Assessment Day at Orientation. Ron sometimes had to be protected from himself, as he tended to work perhaps a bit too much. But he believed in the library’s mission and in the vision of the college as a whole. It is no surprise that Ron was a member of the James Wallace Society, giving annually to Macalester and naming Macalester as a beneficiary of his estate.

Ron was the steady rock of our organization. We all counted on him and his support; we all knew he would dream up amazing, ambitious project ideas. We all argued with him, laughed with him, and built our services, spaces, and collections with him. He is irreplaceable, and we were lucky to have him for 35 years.

Contributed by Beth Hillemann


In Fond Memory: Ron Joslin Copyright © by DeWitt Wallace Library, Macalester College. All Rights Reserved.

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