Meet the Candidates: Karen Williams

Editor’s Note: The ACRL Member of the Week feature is taking a brief hiatus so we can profile the 2013 ACRL Board of Directors candidates. We’ll feature one candidate each weekday from March 7 — 18. 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 19. Member of the Week will return on March 25.

Karen WilliamsKaren Williams is Associate University Librarian for Research and Learning at the University of Minnesota Libraries in Minneapolis. Karen has been an ACRL member since 1985 and is a 2013 candidate for the ACRL Board of Directors as Vice-President/ President-Elect.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Passionate, Learner, Shared-Leadership.

2. What are you reading right now (or listening to on your mobile device)? I have always loved fiction so there’s at least one novel on the night stand or the Kindle at all times. My current fun read is The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie.  I’ve recently finished two excellent book club selections, Yan Martel’s Life of Pi (looking forward to seeing the movie), and Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried (how did I miss this when it originally came out?)  I’m a huge dance aficionado so am enjoying Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet by Jennifer Homans.  I had a “can’t put it down” experience with Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, a memoir by Cheryl Strayed.

I subscribe to a number of health and nutrition newsletters, and podcasts of This American Life and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me accompany me as my Fitbit relentlessly tracks those daily steps. There is too much professional reading to list it all, but I’ve just picked up Transforming Information Literacy Programs: Intersecting Frontiers of Self, Library Culture, and Campus Community, edited by Carroll Wetzel Wilkinson and Courtney Bruch.

3. Describe ACRL in three words: Catalytic, Empowering, Lifelong Colleagues.

4. Why do you value most about ACRL? One of my favorite library school faculty members advised me that becoming professionally active would be rewarding, energizing, and essential to my own growth — all of which proved to be true. I chose ACRL as my professional home and it has been an excellent venue for networking, sharing, and learning from each other as we set about reinventing our work.  I have valued the great variety of educational offerings and the many opportunities to participate in shaping our collective future.

5. What do you, as an academic librarian, contribute to your campus? Librarians possess a broad academic perspective and have become adept at supporting valuable traditions in areas where this is necessary, and pioneering new services and new models for everything from cooperative collection management to discovery and delivery systems that are responsive to how scholars and students work. I’ve been an advocate for open access and an educator on a broad range of scholarly communication issues. I’ve supported a variety of teaching and learning efforts from working on the development of undergraduate student learning outcomes to the recent initiatives on eLearning and the introduction of MOOCs.

6. In your own words: We are experiencing transformational change in both higher education and the information landscape, which makes this a tremendously exciting, if challenging, time to be a librarian. New and rapidly changing technologies, an abundance of digital information in myriad formats, an increased understanding of how students learn, changing practices in how scholars communicate and disseminate their research and creative work, and increasing public demand for accountability are all part of our new landscape.  As a profession, I believe we are up to these challenges and our collective efforts will result in new services for our clienteles and new ways of defining and connecting scholars and students to the content they need.