Dr. Richard Saunders serves as the Dean of Library Services at Southern Utah University. His passion for education, history and books started from an early age.
“My grandfather was chair of Sociology at Utah State University for years,” said Saunders. “My dad was one of his graduate students.”
Saunders grew up discussing big issues, especially social issues, in the 1970’s and often read books about history. Saunders’ interest in the library began when he was a freshman at USU. He took a work-study position in the campus’s library in the Special Collections department.
“After a month I decided I rather liked this and felt I could do it as a career,” he said.
A career in libraries was interrupted for a non-academic job for a few years as a project manager for a full-service pre-press firm, managing academic books and textbooks through editing, design, and production.
“It was a great opportunity to see scholarly books from the other side,” he noted, “and an invaluable experience when I came back into academia.”
At SUU, Saunders teaches an Information Literacy course, which introduces students to the research process and methods for retrieving information. He focuses on developing information literacy skills, selecting relevant sources, and then evaluating, organizing, and citing the information. He also occasionally teaches US history, the subject of his graduate degree.
Saunders earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in History from USU. He worked for the Utah State Historical Society as an archivist in the late 1980s and completed a Master’s of Library and Information Sciences at Brigham Young University afterwords. He later earned a PhD in modern U.S. history at the University of Memphis, with a dissertation focusing on social and political change during the Civil Rights period in the rural South.
Saunders is an accredited librarian and archivist with thirty years practice in academic libraries in Utah, Montana, and Tennessee. As the Yellowstone librarian in Montana, he developed a passion for national parks and public lands. He also has practical experience as a researcher at institutions across the country.
Today Dr. Saunders has developed into an advocate of open educational resources (OER) and open pedagogy in higher education. He was the spark behind SUU’s four-year project in OER adoption across the undergraduate curriculum.
Saunders is considered an expert on library management and information science, historical and cultural studies on Mormonism, printing technology, the American West, national parks, and the US civil rights period.