Phillips ’99 Connects Scholars Worldwide, Assists AU Library in Reaching Goals
“Librarianship is truly a cutting edge profession,” says Jason Phillips, KSB/MBA ’99. Although never having worked as a librarian and new to the Friends of the American University Library steering committee, Phillips knows a lot about the future of libraries and is a longtime supporter of AU and its scholarly research.
Phillips came to AU from the publishing business looking for a meaningful educational experience. As a student, he dove into the opportunities at Kogod and found the curriculum tough and inspirational.
He also found his AU colleagues to challenge and motivate him to aim high and work hard. He recalls one memorable moment when he represented AU in a national Case competition that Kogod students participate in each year. His group met at night and gave up all of spring break to prepare. While his group did not win, the “experience and camaraderie were priceless.” At AU, the classes were “full of intelligent people and challenging coursework that provided me with a sense of accomplishment, prepared me for the real business world, and encouraged me to take professional risks to reach success.”
A rising star in the university and business community, Phillips leads strategic outreach efforts to more than 6,500 international participating institutions in more than 150 countries, mostly academic libraries, as director of the Outreach and Participation Services group for Ithaka, a company that provides technological services and sustainable business models for higher education (the parent company for online scholarly research giant JSTOR). He finds the same principle to be true worldwide: Scholars around the world all have a core need to access scholarship in their disciplines.
Connecting scholars to these resources is Phillips job and vision. His job has taken him to Sweden, China, Japan, and Korea, and keeps him on the cutting edge of scholarly and technological advancement. Phillips is proud of JSTOR’s prominence in the scholarly world and finds working in a mission-based environment very rewarding. The testimonials he witnessed recently at a conference with 200+ Chinese librarians reinforced, “over and over again, that this is a resource that is making a real difference for scholarship worldwide,” says Phillips. “I’m glad to be able to play a role in supporting this.”
His position at JSTOR allows Phillips brings a special expertise and play a unique role in support of the University Library. Although it has evolved since he was a student, when its primary purpose was to provide a quiet place to study and work, Phillips credits the library with serving as a central location for scholars to interact and engage in new research techniques and resources. In 2010, Phillips provided AU alumni access to JSTOR through a special national pilot program, the third in a growing list of database resources that the library provides for alumni.
“I believe being an alumnus carries some responsibilities, and it would be a waste to leave that experience behind,” he says.
Life is what you make of it, says Phillips, who challenges students especially, though certainly his alumni peers as well, to never stop learning or challenging themselves.