Meet the Candidates: Karen Munro

Karen Munro

Editor’s Note: In the lead-up to the 2018 ALA/ACRL election, we’re profiling the 2018 ACRL Board of Directors candidates. We’ll feature one candidate in slate order each weekday from March 2—9. Complete details on candidates for ACRL offices are available on the election website. Make sure to vote for the candidates of your choice starting March 12.

Karen MunroKaren Munro is the associate dean for learning and research services at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC, Canada and a 2018 candidate for the ACRL Board of Directors as Vice President/President-Elect.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Curious, open, analytical.

2. What are you reading right now (or listening to on your mobile device)? I just finished reading Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction, which is a hair-raising look at how big data and predictive modeling are helping us make decisions, although not always for the better. And because I like to read on themes, I’m looking forward to following it up with Safiya Umoja Noble’s Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism.

3. Describe ACRL in three words: Responsive, future-oriented, connective.

4. Why do you value about ACRL? As a new librarian, ACRL helped me find my place in the profession and connected me with peers and mentors.  Later in my career, as I grew into new roles and positions, it continued to both support and challenge me.  My relationships with savvy, knowledgeable, and genuinely helpful ACRL staff and colleagues have given me so many boosts I can’t count them. The greatest strength of the association is truly its membership.

5. What do you, as an academic librarian, contribute to your campus? I hope I bring the perspective of the profession—a broad-minded, ecumenical approach to teaching, learning, and scholarship that is conscious of disciplinary needs but not bound by them. I also hope I raise a voice for our shared values around issues like privacy, lifelong learning, open access, and inclusion. Finally, I believe the library offers a tremendous return on any campus’s investment, in terms of the student experience and support for faculty research and teaching, among other things—and I hope I’m a champion for that message.

6. In your own words: In some ways, librarians seem miles ahead on so many of the challenges and opportunities facing higher education. We’re powerful collaborators, with a long history of getting things done across disciplinary and financial siloes. We’re committed to our users’ learning and their overall experience of the institution, and we’re good at basing our decisions and directions on real data. And we can teach a master class on getting bang for our buck. I’m encouraged by the increasing attention we’re giving to learning how to talk effectively to our colleagues, peers, and partners outside the library’s walls. As higher education charts its path further into the twenty-first century, I think the library is one of the most interesting, challenging, and adaptive places to be.