Clemson Libraries

Alexander retires after 37 years with Clemson Libraries


Teri Alexander, Director of Learning Environments for Clemson Libraries, is retiring this month after 37 years of service.  A lifetime in the library was a fitting career path for her, as she says, “Books are in my blood.”

Alexander grew up in Pickens in a reading family, where books were always a priority. In fact, reading literally is the family business. Her family has owned and operated Poor Richard’s Bookseller in downtown Easley for generations. Working in a library seemed to be the perfect fit, so when she had the opportunity to join Clemson Libraries in 1987, she jumped at the chance. 

Alexander is a lifelong Tiger, with deep roots in Pickens County, but she did leave the Upstate for a little while to attend Berea College in Kentucky. After graduating, she stayed in Berea where she worked at the college’s historic Boone Tavern Hotel for about four years. But she eventually found her way back home to Pickens and landed a job as the circulation manager for Clemson Libraries.

“I was raised to be a reader from an early age, so I was intrigued by the position,” she said. “I was interested in working in a library setting.”

Working in circulation, Alexander found herself on the front lines of Cooper Library, as the service desk is the focal point for lots of activity in the library. Lots of problems and issues are first reported or noticed by workers at the service desk. Alexander found herself dealing with a lot of facilities-related issues, so much so that she eventually moved into managing a lot of facilities maintenance and operations.

“It just seemed like a natural fit because we were hearing a lot of the first reports of things that had a direct impact on the building,” she said.

During a library re-organization in the early 2000s, Alexander moved full-time into facilities management, joining the libraries’ administrative team. As Director of Learning Environments, she now does a lot more than day-to-day facilities management. She now manages a variety of projects that impact Clemson Libraries’ six facilities ­–– from painting the walls, to installing new signage at the off-site Library Depot, to larger projects, such as creating the space for the Social Media Listening Center on the fifth floor of Cooper.

In 2019, she helped coordinate a movie shoot in Cooper Library when the Disney movie “Safety” was filmed on campus. She worked to ensure the movie crew had access to the spaces they needed in Cooper and that information about the filming was communicated to patrons and Libraries employees. 

She also had to manage a major facilities crisis when Cooper Library flooded in December 2022 when extreme cold temperatures caused a pipe to burst in the building. The bottom three floors of the library took significant water damage, and portions of the building were closed for a few months while repairs were being made.

Though her primary responsibility revolves around buildings, her priority and her focus is on the people who use them.

“My job is all about the people and the relationships, whether it’s working with a student organization that wants to host an event or exhibit or working with faculty about a space for a class, it is all about partnerships,” she said. “My job is about our physical spaces, but it’s more about the people who use the spaces and making sure those spaces are welcoming and inviting and meet their needs.”

“We are going to miss Teri greatly, not only for her outstanding work but also for her positivity, energy, and the love she has for this University,” said Clemson Libraries Dean Chris Cox. “Teri has had an immeasurable impact on the Libraries over the course of her career, and I am grateful for her service and leadership.”

Alexander has also worked on various committees and commissions outside of the libraries to build partnerships across campus. She currently serves on the university’s Accessibility Commission and previously served on the Staff Senate. She also served on the libraries Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

After more than three decades, Alexander has seen it all in Cooper Library, including someone feeding a baby possum in a restroom and a patron who approached the service desk with a giant snake draped around his neck. She has many stories to tell, but one thing she can say is that the job never gets dull.

“People ask me if I ever get bored after being here for 37 years,” she said. “My answer to that is absolutely not. The environment has changed, the technology has changed, our services have changed ­–– all of that has kept my job changing and growing over time and that has what has kept me challenged over the years.”

Outside of work, Alexander is an avid reader and enjoys spending time with her four grandchildren ­–– ages 5 to 13 –– who live in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

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