|Frank Mols, Beloved Library Director, Dies
Francis “Frank” P. Mols, director of the Vernon and Doris Bishop Library at Lebanon Valley College since 2007, died on Thursday, August 14, 2014, at the age of 64. He spent more than 40 years serving college and university libraries in Michigan, Virginia, New York, and Pennsylvania.
“Frank was the exemplar of everything that Lebanon Valley College believes in,” said Dr. Lewis E. Thayne, LVC president. “He was energetic, enthusiastic, positive, and someone who truly cared about all of his students and co-workers. Frank was a shining light who brought smiles to everyone he encountered.”
Mols was a dynamic leader, speaker, and technology enthusiast who arrived at The Valley after serving as associate director for technical services and budget for the Binghamton University Libraries in Binghamton, N.Y. During his almost 20-year tenure at Binghamton, he served in numerous roles of increasing responsibility including as interim director of university libraries and acting head for the Catalogue Services Unit, the Bartle Reference and Collections, and the Cataloging Services Unit.
Prior to Binghamton, Mols served as the head of cataloging and database control (1985–1989) at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.; processing director (1980–1985) and head of the cataloging department (1977–1980) at Grand Valley State Colleges in Allendale, Mich.; and monographic cataloger (1973–1977) at the Pennsylvania State University, Capital Campus, in Middletown, Pa.
An expert in library sciences–technical services, library automation, and library budgeting and management, Mols received numerous professional awards and grants including from the New York State/United University Professions and the South Central Research Library Council. He was the co-author of “Supplementing Electronic Databases: The OCLC FirstSearch Option,” with Rachel Cassel (OCLC Systems & Services, vol. 10, no. 4 (Winter 1994), and presented at conferences on topics ranging from “Licensing and Copyright for Electronic Resources” to “Aleph Privileges: Staff Empowerment and Database Integrity.”
Professionally, Mols was active in numerous organizations throughout his career including with the American Library Association, Association of College & Research Libraries, State University of New York Librarians Association, Eastern New York Association of College & Research Libraries, New York State Higher Education Initiative (Membership Committee), and the SUNY Library Contract Advisory Team.
During his tenure at LVC, Mols oversaw the digitization of many historic College publications (yearbooks, catalogs, magazines, etc.), an increase in the number of and access to databases for students and faculty, and proudly led efforts to redesign spaces for collaborative study, which are very popular with students.
Mols was receptive to changes that would improve library services for students and faculty, actively offering polls to discover what students needed to succeed. He took their suggestions to heart, and in response to feedback, created quiet spaces for study, added software on library computers, and added additional study spaces. Mols created these spaces for students by converting numerous print periodicals to digital format and shifted collections to increase usability. He also actively solicited input from the College’s faculty.
“Frank was proud of Bishop Library, and he worked hard to provide the best service and resources he could for the campus,” said Lori Nyce, systems and electronic services librarian. “He lived for interacting with students, faculty, and staff on a daily basis. His great sense of humor and outgoing personality made him many friends, and he will be deeply missed by library staff, student workers, and the campus community.”
Mols was particularly proud of restarting a long dormant Oral History Project for the College, in which numerous emeriti, trustees, alumni, and staff were recorded. Dr. Art Ford, professor emeritus of English, worked closely with him on the project. “Frank had a passion for the archival function of his library,” said Dr. Ford. “When he found recordings of oral histories and that the practice had been discontinued, he determined to have the words of those associated with LVC be recorded. When I said yes to helping with the project, I knew that it would get done, and with enthusiasm and good humor. He was a delight to work with. His last words to me whenever I left his office were, ‘Be good, Art.’ No guarantee, Frank, but I’ll try.”
Students, especially those who worked in the library, were especially dear to Mols. “He supported me in my work at the library, and as an RA, study abroad student, volleyball player, and a graduate,” said Ally Stengel ’13 who worked in the library for four years as an undergraduate. “He was a wonderful man to work for: funny, kind, and so passionate about the library and the students he served. He was a great teacher, friend, and mentor. I will miss him dearly and LVC has lost a great man.”
Mols was also active in many social and service organizations. He was a member of the South Central Regional Library Council (1999–2007) and served as the organization’s president from 2001–2004. He was the program advertising coordinator for the Vestal High School Football Booster Club (1997–1999), a volunteer for the Empire State Games and BC Open Golf Tournament, volunteer and block captain for the Tioga Terrace Civic Association, and a member of the Apalachin Lions Club.
Known for his relentless energy and optimism, Mols enjoyed reading, bicycling, gardening, walking, and playing racquetball. He was particularly well known for his love of golfing with colleagues.
Born in McKeesport, Pa., in 1949, Mols graduated from McKeesport Area Senior High School in 1967. He enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh where he earned a B.A. in political science (1971) and an M.LS. in library science (1973). He later earned professional certificates from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (Certificate of Attendance: Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians, 2005) and the University of Scranton (Management and Human Resource Certificate). Mols also took several courses toward a master’s of public administration at Grand Valley States Colleges before taking a position at Old Dominion University.
Mols is survived by his wife of 39 years, Kathy; a daughter, Emily Gerber; son-in-law, Matt, and granddaughter, Samantha. Written condolences can be mailed to the family at 554 Sweetwater Drive, Palmyra, Pa., 17078. Donations can be sent to the Frank Mols Memorial Library Fund (Please note designation “Frank Mols Memorial” in the memo line), Lebanon Valley College, 101 North College Avenue, Annville, Pa., 17003.