A Tribute to Our Friend and Colleague, Claudia Conrad

At the end of December, CDL lost a beloved and respected colleague, Claudia Conrad. Claudia joined CDL in 2018 as the Discovery and Delivery (D2D) team’s Product Manager for Metadata and the Zephir service, which supplies metadata to the HathiTrust Digital Library. Her CDL employment began on an adventurous note: the day of her interview there was a Warriors victory parade in downtown Oakland, jamming streets and clogging parking, but with her usual competence she navigated to the 20th Street office for her interview and was soon hired. Claudia’s accomplishments at CDL were many. Within three months of starting, she was asked to take on the management of a second service. This meant coming up to speed quickly on her core position as metadata product manager for Zephir, and then shifting gears to learn a whole new area, interlibrary loan and resource sharing, with completely different team members and stakeholders. In this capacity, she worked with the resource sharing team on two important services: the critical and fast-turnaround Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS) which  provided access to in-copyright materials in HathiTrust when libraries were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a service to provide alternative access to Elsevier journal articles during a time when the UC Elsevier subscription was suspended. Claudia’s work was invaluable and allowed D2D to deploy staff to a time-sensitive project, the Systemwide ILS project. She did this for three years until the SILS was implemented! Claudia had the ability to work effectively and thrive, even under difficult conditions – a testament to her exceptional skills and adaptability.

Claudia brought a wealth of expertise to her position at CDL. She was a graduate of UC Davis, earning a degree in Textiles and Clothing, and acquired her MLIS from Simmons College in Boston. After working in technical services and cataloging at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, where she shepherded the installation of a III system, she went to work for Innovative Interfaces. Over a number of years she took on progressively more responsible positions, starting on the HelpDesk and moving on to Product Manager for Cataloging and related services. She was a popular and tireless presenter at user group meetings, and balanced demanding customers and co-workers with equal professionalism and sangfroid. Following a switch to a position as product analyst for circulation, her managers recognized her talents and abilities by promoting her to manage both the product analysts and a documentation team. 

While at Innovative Claudia trained in agile software development – she had certifications as scrum master, product owner, and practical product management, all of which expertise she brought to CDL. With her typical patient competence she was able to demonstrate the benefits of this approach to development work, encouraged the D2D teams to acquire this training, and so we all benefited. Claudia’s many accomplishments included building a more productive relationship with HathiTrust, concluding work with the SILS Ethical and Inclusive Metadata Practices in UC Library Search Project Team, and chairing the Matching Algorithms Task Force, a standing committee of the Partnership for Shared Book Collections. 

Claudia also brought with her to CDL her love of Halloween, yet another way in which she was such a good fit for our organization. She enthusiastically joined in with thematic costumes, including a Frankenstein fiddler (think “Young Frankenstein”), a zombie knitter, and most recently Agnes Nutter (from the “Good Omens” TV series) adorned in an ethereal lace knit wrap she had knitted herself. Claudia excelled as a knitter, generously sharing her expert knowledge here as in other areas of her life, and encouraging newcomers to the art. Claudia participated enthusiastically in D2D’s end of year musical reports of accomplishments, wearing a Santa hat and jingling bells with the best of us, and her key lime pie was a huge favorite at CDL’s Pi Day celebrations. Her interests were many and varied, and she happily shared her enthusiasm for Doctor Who, the “Jeeves and Wooster” stories penned by P.G. Wodehouse, and operatic works of all sorts, to name but a few. Claudia enjoyed a well-crafted cocktail, a good glass of wine, and a wee dram of fine single malt scotch. We will miss her competent, generous, and gracious presence among us!

If you would like to make a contribution in Claudia’s name, donations are most welcome to West Edge Opera on whose board Claudia sat for many years.