Circle of Friends: Kenley E. Neufeld
The ACRL Circle of Friends acknowledges the sustained generosity of those who have been Friends of ACRL for five or more years. The Friends of ACRL was created to provide a means for the association to take bold steps above and beyond its traditional member programs and services. Rapidly changing demographic, economic, and technological trends are presenting academic libraries and librarians with new challenges and competition that demand immediate solutions. The Friends of ACRL have responded to these new challenges and provided additional support that will enhance and ensure the relevance of our profession. To join or learn more about the Friends of ACRL, please visit the ACRL website.
1. Describe yourself in three words: Calm, dependable, loyal.
2. Why do you support the Friends of ACRL? I found a professional home in ACRL in my early career that helped me grow as a library leader and library thinker. Being a part of ACRL guided me as a library advocate and educator. In those early years, it wasn’t always easy to pay the professional dues and attend multiple conferences each year. My primary goal in supporting the Friends of ACRL is to allow more young professionals to participate in our association and be able to attend the many conferences and programs.
3. What might someone be surprised to know about you? I am a fan of dark stories—both written and visual. I enjoy dumb science fiction movies—such as Resident Evil. I also love sad and/or depressing music. I enjoy experiencing my “dark side” through film and music and that plays alongside my lighter spiritual side which is very joyous. I was ordained by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh as a dharma teacher and am authorized to teach meditation for retreats and mindfulness days.
4. Since you’ve become a member of ACRL, tell us about someone who influenced you in some way? In the 16 years that I’ve been an ACRL member, I have met so many wonderful and kind colleagues I can rely on both personally and professionally. It has been an honor to work alongside people like Steven Bell, Irene Herold, and Cynthia Steinhoff. I’ve worked closely with so many of the ACRL staff that I can’t begin to mention all their names, but they are inspiring for their many years of commitment. If I have to pick only one person, it will be Trevor Dawes. The influence from Trevor is primarily in the area of personality—most people underestimate the importance of soft skills—his positive and kind energy, his open heartedness, and of course his drive to move forward, to innovate, and pursue a dream. If any of us can replicate just a little bit of Trevor’s smile and openness, then we will all be able to live better.
5. What do you hope ACRL will achieve in the near future (or the long term)? We have an amazing association that has been a leader at the forefront of academic library efforts. It is a true wonder that we have been able to accomplish so much as a volunteer organization. As a community college librarian, I want the association to continue considering the community college library experience in all discussions, all planning, and in the creation of tools and resources. In the long term, we need an association that will lead librarians forward into new ways of thinking about libraries and library services. We also need to lead non-library educators into new ways of thinking about libraries and library services. This type of forward thinking requires creative think tanks, innovative professional development, and thinking beyond our past and beyond our profession.
6. In your opinion, what is the most important work that ACRL does? ACRL provides a gathering place for creativity, collaboration, engagement, and leadership across all types of academic libraries. ACRL is a voice for both the new and the seasoned professional. The most important work it provides are connections, colleagues, and community. It is the place to be.