Author Archives: Sophie Skinner

Member of the Week: Essraa M. Nawar

Essraa M. NawarEssraa M. Nawar is a library development coordinator at Chapman University in Orange, California. Essraa has been a member of ACRL since 2014 and is your ACRL member of the week for July 24, 2017.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Global citizen, flexible.

2. What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device)? Reading Choosing to Lead: The Motivational Factors of Underrepresented Minority Librarians in Higher Education, edited by Antonia P. Olivas. Listening to TED Talks.

3. Describe ACRL in three words: Innovative, accepting, thriving for diversity.

4. What do you value about ACRL? Sense of a special community, like-minded people, amazing publications, great Instagram!, valuable newsletter, amazing scholarship opportunities.

5. What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? International flavor (as an Egyptian-American), diversity initiatives, and fundraising opportunities; serve as chair of the Arts, Exhibits and Events Committee, head of library development, and liaison to the Muslim Student Association and the Interfaith Center.

6. In your own words: I just received my Masters of Library and Information Sciences in May, 2017 so I am not an academic librarian yet, but my dean is working on the transition. Yet, I can already tell that as a librarian, one can touch so many lives and affect many decisions. In my position, I help bring academic programming and events to life and make various fundraising opportunities happen. Wearing that academic cap will give me the opportunity to be at the table and contribute to the profession locally and nationally.

Watch Essraa’s Tedx Talk, “Feeling Welcomed and Empowered.”

Editor’s Note: Are you an ACRL member? Would you like to be featured as ACRL Member of the Week? Nominate a colleague? Contact Mary Jane Petrowski at for more information.

Member of the Week: James K. Teliha

James K. TelihaJames K. Teliha is the director of the library and learning commons at Utica College in Utica, NY. James has been a member of ACRL since 1997 and is your ACRL member of the week for July 17, 2017.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Here – As Woody Allen said, showing up is 80% of life.

Optimist – I honestly believe that things are getting better (and hope I’m contributing toward that goal).

Traveler – Seven continents, 49 countries (50 this fall), and counting.

2. What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device)? Philip Kerr’s Prussian Blue (the latest Bernie Gunther novel) and Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes’ Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign.

3. Describe ACRL in three words: Collegial, expertise, service.

4. What do you value about ACRL? My colleagues’ expertise—academic librarianship should never be lonely—on our professional standards and their uncanny ability to know what the next big things are (and how to deal with them), and most importantly, the ability to serve and participate in ACRL and give back to the profession.

5. What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? I am the fixer at my college—I help students (both online and ground) complete their assignments and pass their classes, I help the faculty with their research and teaching, and I help build the timeless collection that is my college’s library—the intellectual heart of any college.

6. In your own words: I completely love what I do and can’t imagine not being in a library every day. For me, librarianship is a calling not just a job or career choice. I’ve worked in all kinds of libraries (public, special, and academic) and have felt most useful in academic libraries. I never know where the day will take me, but I do know it will take all my skill and experience as a librarian to help as many people as I can and do my job. And I never stop learning new things.

Editor’s Note: Are you an ACRL member? Would you like to be featured as ACRL Member of the Week? Nominate a colleague? Contact Mary Jane Petrowski at for more information.

Organizational Member Spotlight – Texas A&M University

The Sterling C. Evans Library at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX joined ACRL in 1986 and has been an organizational member of ACRL for 32 years. We are proud to feature the Sterling C. Evans Library.

1. Describe your library in 3 words: Big, responsive, aspirational.

2. Describe ACRL in three words: Professional, collaborative, standards-reliant.

4. What does your library (as an organizational member) value about ACRL? Two things. First, there is the collaboration with colleagues in working on projects at a national scale reflecting the interest of libraries nationally rather than one’s local campus solely. Second, ACRL’s role in the development, support, and promotion of standards is vitally important and a unique contribution.

5. What value does your library contribute to your campus? A set of quality resources is the bedrock of our contribution, of course, but beyond that I think one of our most important contributions for students is providing that “third space” that is not the classroom and not the dorm but a place where they can go and focus on the projects and tasks for their academic success. For faculty, I think our most important role is to advance the conversation on the issues of scholarly communication. I think we are uniquely placed to advise faculty on how to make the scholarly communications system more effective, more timely, more robust and more affordable. We can also assist them with the advancement of their careers through academic profiling and promotion of their scholarly output.

6. In your own words: It’s an exciting time to be a librarian! We have a unique contribution to make on campus in issues such as scholarly identity, licensing, intellectual property, fair use, open access and open educational resources. I am also encouraged and excited by FOLIO. I believe this unique vendor/library partnership in the development of an open source, microservices-based library management system has the potential to be a game-changing development in how we apply and manage systems. FOLIO is a refreshing change in how we interact with vendors. With FOLIO, libraries are genuine partners in the development and direction of this critical software tool. In contrast, I am distressed at what I see as the ongoing deterioration of the relationship between academic/research libraries and commercial publishers. From my perspective, commercial, for-profit publishers such as Elsevier and Wiley seem tone-deaf and indifferent to the concerns we have with pricing and the desire to open channels of scholarly communication. The reluctance comes from resolute protection of entrenched practices that are based on technologies and practices now outmoded. We–libraries and publishers–need to work together to find new modes of distribution and development of economic models that will sustain and advance scholarly discourse. Regrettably, I see little evidence of such conversation and more evidence of protectionism by publishers and angry frustration for librarians in return. This results in a chasm bridged only by the necessary and increasingly tense interactions for purchasing and licensing of content.

Editor’s Note: Is your library an ACRL organizational member? Would you like to be featured in our Organizational Member Spotlight feature? Contact Mary Jane Petrowski at for more information.

Member of the Week: Robin M. Katz

Robin KatzRobin M. Katz is the outreach and public services librarian for Special Collections and University Archives at the University of California, Riverside in Riverside, CA. Robin first joined ACRL in 2007 and is your ACRL member of the week for July 10, 2017.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Curious, strategic, and communicative.

2. What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device)? Since I moved to LA and bought a car, I now spend my long commute listening to podcasts. A LOT of podcasts. I’m a big fan of Gimlet’s shows, especially Reply All, which is about the internet; Twice Removed, about genealogy; and Heavyweight, which defies categorization and approaches poetry. There’s little I love more than eating, so I always look forward to Gastropod, about the history and science of food, and I really enjoy The Sporkful. For explorations of identity, I love Tablet’s Unorthodox, for us modern, irreverent Jews; Slate’s Double X about gender and feminism; 2 Dope Queens; and NPR’s Code Switch. Finally, I think my professional practices benefit from listening in on the entrepreneurial and business worlds through Planet Money, Freakonomics, NPR’s interviews with successful company founders on How I Built This and Gimlet’s Startup—especially season 1 about starting Gimlet and this last season about the controversial founder of American Apparel.

3. Describe ACRL in three words: An opportunity, a resource, and a community.

4. What do you value about ACRL? I’m active in RBMS and the annual RBMS Conference it is by far my favorite professional conference because the quality of programming is so high (that’s the plus side of having business meetings at ALA Midwinter and Annual. The cons, of course, are time and money). I always suggest that my colleagues in archives and special collections make the RBMS Conference a priority—it is an ideal size, the daily itinerary is easy to navigate as an attendee, the community is welcoming and approachable, and the sessions are both smart and interesting.

5. What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? As a special collections librarian and archivist focused on public services, I connect people (on our campus, but also beyond!) to primary sources. I hope we create meaningful interactions with our collections which help our users explore, learn, grow, play with, and reflect on issues that matter to them.

6. In your own words: Librarianship is a perfect fit for generalists! I am always learning something new.

Editor’s Note: Are you an ACRL member? Would you like to be featured as ACRL Member of the Week? Nominate a colleague? Contact Mary Jane Petrowski at for more information.

Circle of Friends: Melissa Hubbard

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.

Melissa HubbardMelissa Hubbard is the head of Special Collections & Archives at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. Melissa has been an ACRL member since 2006 and joined the ACRL Circle of Friends earlier this year.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Advocate, troublemaker, Gryffindor.

2. Why do you support the Friends of ACRL? I received a scholarship to the 2008 RBMS conference just a few months after I got my first professional job as a rare books librarian. It is not at all an exaggeration to say that receiving that scholarship is one of the best things that has ever happened to me and I don’t know where my career would be now if I hadn’t. I donate to the scholarship fund every year now because I hope I can provide the same kind of experience for those new to the field of special collections.

3. What might someone be surprised to know about you? I started my college career as a flute performance major, and I wanted to be a concert musician. I decided that wasn’t for me after a couple of years, but I do have one significant musical accomplishment: I have played Carnegie Hall.

4. Since you’ve become a member of ACRL, tell us about someone who influenced you in some way? Wow, I could never name just one person. RBMS is full of creative, generous, inspiring professionals at all stages of their careers and I have learned so much from so many.

5. What do you hope ACRL will achieve in the near future (or the long term)? I hope that ACRL will serve as a space for academic librarians to find ways to make a greater positive impact on communities outside the academy. I believe that academic libraries can and should serve a critical role in connecting the knowledge production and teaching that occurs in colleges and universities to broader communities, with a focus on building a more equitable, compassionate, and just society of lifelong learners. Education is a human right, but currently many people in the US do not have access to higher education, research collections, and/or crucial information technology. Academic librarians should do everything we can to bridge that gap.

6. In your opinion, what is the most important work that ACRL does? ACRL gives incoming professionals a clear path to forming connections to others in the field and developing their own identities as professionals. Without those pathways, I don’t think our field would be nearly as vibrant.

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