Editor’s Note: This is the first in an occasional series profiling members of the ACRL staff.
Kara Malenfant is ACRL’s Scholarly Communications and Government Relations Specialist.
Kara recently earned her PhD in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. To learn more, listen to the audio discussion above about her dissertation, Understanding Faculty Perceptions of the Future: Action Research for Academic Librarians.
1. Describe yourself in three words: Enthusiastic. Dedicated. Collaborative.
2. What are you reading right now? Currently I’m reading juvenile nonfiction on Chile (to prepare a cultural presentation for my son’s kindergarten class) and Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole for book club. Next up on my list are Academically Adrift by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa and Enhancing Campus Capacity for Leadership: An Examination of Grassroots Leaders in Higher Education by Adrianna J. Kezar and Jaime Lester.
3. What was your background before coming to work at ACRL?: Before I started at ACRL in fall of 2005, I was a librarian for 6 years at DePaul University in Chicago. Prior to getting my MS from UIUC and becoming a librarian, I had worked in nonprofits focused on international humanitarian aid and advocacy. I started on that path after teaching English as a Peace Corps volunteer while part of the first group posted to the Republic of Armenia in the early 90s.
4. What do you do in your role as ACRL Scholarly Communications and Government Relations Specialist? I coordinate ACRL’s scholarly communication activities, government relations advocacy, and am the lead staff member on the Value of Academic Libraries initiative. Recently I have begun working with colleagues on a forthcoming research series and to provide consulting services on organizational development and use of ACRL’s standards for libraries in higher education.
5. What’s your favorite thing about working at ACRL? I’d have to say my favorite thing is the variety. I enjoy being engaged on wide range of national issues that are important to libraries and higher education. I appreciate my colleagues, who are so highly competent, and the way we all work together to support one another. It is an absolute pleasure working with our very motivated members, who are some of the best and brightest in the profession.
6. In your own words: Although I was active in ACRL for years (I served as chair of ACRL’s International Relations Committee from 2003-2005), it wasn’t until I started on staff that I came to realize how truly member driven this organization is. If you have a good idea and are willing to give it some elbow grease, there’s no telling what you can do. ACRL depends on active members to accomplish all that we do for the good of the profession.