New MSFRIC director discusses future plans for AU library

New MSFRIC director stands among the book shelves of the library.

Dr. Mehmed Ali, director of the Muir S. Fairchild Research Information Center, stands among the numerous bookshelves of the MSFRIC, Feb. 28, 2018, on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The MSFRIC is at the center of the Air University academic circle, providing students and faculty from each school of AU with the information they need to be successful. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Charles Welty)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Air Force officers quietly study below as the new director walks the upper floor of the Muir S. Fairchild Research Information Center.

For Dr. Mehmed, there is nothing more exciting than helping people access a world of knowledge.

The former Marine joined the Maxwell and Air University family at the beginning of this month, and plans to use his more than 25 years of experience to help the MSFRIC grow.

He expressed how excited he was to be at such a prestigious library, although he does have ideas on how they can continue to improve.

“I think we can do more,” Ali said. “I think the ways we can do that is by making a stronger digital connection to the schools and directly to the students and faculty. I think we can be a model for other DoD libraries.”

Ali said that one of the things he will be doing in the upcoming months is going on a listening tour with AU leadership.

He hopes that if he meets with the faculty one on one, he’ll get a sense of what they need and how the MSFRIC can position themselves better to assist them and students accomplish their mission while at AU.

“What I’m working on right now is gathering information to put together a strategic plan for the library, which should be available in 60 to 90 days,” Ali said. “This will help create a road map on where we need to go with students, not only available for students on base, but distance learners as well.”

Although his focus seems to be on digitalizing the MSFRIC, Ali admitted he still believes librarians hold a major role in this day in age.

“It’s not just about talking to Mr. and Mrs. Google,” he said. “It’s really about getting deeper into the frameworks, deeper into the resources so that the students can learn that much more. Our staff here are highly professional and they are here to help.”

In addition to working in libraries, Ali has experience as a field researcher, community advocate, museum and archives director, project manager and is even a published author.

He also spent five years at the State Department in Baghdad and Kabul as a cultural affairs advisor and field development officer where he had the opportunity of running programs to rebuild Iraq’s civic, cultural and educational infrastructure.

“I did a lot of wonderful programing and projects over there,” Ali said. “It broadened my project management and supervisory skills at a different level because you have to be thinking about not just the office place but the security elements as well.”

Before arriving at Maxwell, Ali worked as the assistant director of the University Libraries at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

Ali said he learned much from his time working in the Middle East as well as at UMass, and plans to use his past experiences as a way to help the MSFRIC remain one of the top libraries in the DoD.

For more information about the MSFRIC as well as hours of operation and location, visit their page on the AU website here: http://www.airuniversity.af.mil/MSFRIC/