Tom Moore motions to a five-inch thick expandable file folder resting on a chair near his office door. It's one of many from his cabinet containing documents once important to him.
He likely will leave the folder for Kathy Irwin after spending his final day serving as dean of University Libraries at Central Michigan University June 30. On July 1, Irwin will transition from associate to interim dean of libraries.
This will mark the first time since Ronald Reagan was President of the United States that someone other than Moore is in charge of the libraries.
With 28 years at the helm, Moore has had the distinction of being the longest serving dean ever at CMU. He humbly diverts attention away from this mark of longevity because he would rather focus on the accomplishments of his librarians and staff members these past three decades.
"I'm proud that I am leaving a healthy and dynamic academic service organization and that the role we play is important in the academic process," Moore said. "I care a lot about higher education — it changes lives — and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to be a part of that here at CMU for 28 years. I hope I have added value to the academic enterprise over that period of time."
Prior to coming to CMU, Moore studied with monks while earning his bachelor's degree in English at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina. He later earned an M.A. degree at SUNY Binghamton and an M.S.L.S. from Syracuse University.
Investigating plans to remodel the previously dark and somewhat unwelcoming Park Library was among the first projects waiting for Moore when he arrived on campus in 1988. Years of researching patron needs, developing feasibility plans, securing funding sources and designing a sustainable learning space was realized when the renovated and expanded facility opened its doors in 2002.
Park Library today is the hallmark and centerpiece for student academic life at CMU. Ask Moore, and he'll tell you it's not the building that makes the difference. It's the people, the services and the resources that collectively have made Park Library, Clarke Historical Library and Global Campus Library Services the key academic entities for the university community.
"For me, it's not primarily about the building, though the building is important, but about what people find when they get here, either physically or online," he said. "Higher education has become very specialized over the years, but the library serves everybody no matter their major or area of expertise. This is a common experience for everybody, especially faculty and students, at CMU."
Moore said he will miss interacting with the people he encountered each day and in particular the students who studied and worked at Park Library. But he said he realized over the past few years that life is short and unpredictable. He wants to ensure he can enjoy life as a retiree with his wife, Gail, who retired three years ago.
While he has no specific plans, Moore said he is hoping to better balance his time with his family and community and make more time for himself.
"I joke with people that I'll do anything I want to," he said. "Most of my friends already are retired, so I have some good role models to follow."
A special public reception for Moore's retirement is planned from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday, June 30, in Park Library's Baber Room.