Meet the Candidates: April D. Cunningham

April D. Cunningham

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.

April D. CunninghamApril D. Cunningham is an instruction and information literacy librarian at Palomar College in San Marcos, CA and a 2018 candidate for the ACRL Board of Directors as Director-at-Large.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Steady, responsive, earnest.

2. What are you reading right now (or listening to on your mobile device)? The new Black Panther series and Disenfranchised Grief: Recognizing Hidden Sorrow because I miss my friend Teague Orblych.

3. Describe ACRL in three words: Transformational, purposeful, engaged.

4. Why do you value about ACRL? Since joining ACRL when I was still in library school, I owe a lot of my professional growth to the formal and informal mentoring I’ve received from great librarians in the organization. I wouldn’t be the librarian I am now without these relationships, and ACRL made that possible.

5. What do you, as an academic librarian, contribute to your campus? Education reformer Tom Angelo has pointed out that to a great extent, professors live only in their own courses, whereas, students live in the curriculum and they suffer when we don’t pay attention to how our courses fit together. Academic librarians have the unusual advantage of looking at curricula outside the scope of a particular discipline because of the work we do throughout our institutions. When we share this perspective to help students see how they are building their knowledge base from course to course, they will be more likely to transfer their learning to new contexts.  So I work college-wide to focus on foundational academic skills, to highlight the commonalities among students’ learning outcomes across disciplines to assist in the creation of guided pathways, and to support faculty who are adopting alternatives to high-cost textbooks so their students will always have the materials they need.

6. In your own words: I’ve been a librarian for 15 years and I’ve had to grow a lot on the job. Now, life as an academic librarian is more rewarding for me than ever. Overall, I’m renewing the balance between my strategic focus on long-term educational initiatives and my daily focus on students’ immediate needs. Applying mindfulness concepts to my work allows me to deliberately cultivate a giving attitude toward students and professors when I’m working with them one-on-one and in the classroom. I sense a difference in students’ willingness to receive help from me, and I hope this openness translates into learning gains for them. I know it has for me.