Category Archives: Member of the Week

Member of the Week: Britt McGowan

Britt McGowanBritt McGowan is Coordinator of Library Instruction at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. Britt has been an ACRL member since 2009 and is your ACRL member of the week for August 25, 2014.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Laughing, caring, dreamer.

2. What are you currently reading?  I just checked out Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I read Housekeeping last year, and I think it will be one of those books that I read over and over again.  So, I’m excited to start this one.

3. Describe ACRL in three words:  Supportive, dynamic, community.

4. What do you value about ACRL? I value the connections with other librarians that I’ve been able to make, as well as the professional development opportunities.  I appreciate that ACRL supports a culture of information-sharing and mentoring, which has been so useful to me since I became a librarian in 2009.  I have served on the Instruction Section Program Planning Committee and have been a mentee through both the Instruction Section and the Literatures in English Section. Being able to form relationships with people and rely on their expertise has been extremely helpful.

5. What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? As the Instruction Coordinator and Information Literacy Librarian, I try to find new ways to teach and assess instruction classes while also sharing and streamlining this process for the rest of the librarians. I work hard to coordinate with our Composition and First-Year Experience Programs to ensure the library is a vital part of first-year students’ academic and personal experiences.  I am fortunate, too, that the size of my library allows me to work on a number of tasks, including staying active in collection development and marketing, among other things.  I have to say that my favorite parts of the job are connecting one-on-one with students and writing our silly bathroom newsletter, The Stall Street Journal.

6. In your own words:  New initiatives and projects are great, but what I have loved about working in libraries since I started as the Reserves Coordinator about 10 years ago are the people.   I am motivated by helping and getting to know the students and the faculty, and I could truly never say enough about my co-workers.  Our library is full of interesting, funny, and whip-smart people who take ownership in what they do.  We draw upon each other’s talents and value each other’s opinions.  And? We cut-up.


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 mpetrowski@ala.org for more information.

Member of the Week: Shali Zhang

Shali ZhangShali Zhang is Dean of Libraries at the University of Montana Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library in Missoula, Montana. Shali has been an ACRL member since 2001 and is your ACRL member of the week for August 18, 2014.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Thoughtful, approachable, and flexible

2. What are you currently reading?  I am re-reading Montana 1948 by Larry Watson, a master piece. The novel received the Milkweed National Fiction Prize.  One thing that I feel very fortunate about is the fact that I live in Missoula, Montana. It is an area being surrounded by mountains and endless forests. The weather in the winter is much milder and more comfortable, in comparison with that in the northeast part of Montana in Watson’s novel where it was brutally cold in the winter and the temperature could be below 40 degrees.

3. Describe ACRL in three words:  Visionary, professionalism, and advocacy

4. What do you value about ACRL? ACRL has produced and published most valuable professional literature, guidelines, and other documents. These publications, online or in other formats, have helped guide my practical work.  I was on the Editorial Board of College and Research Libraries for two terms, six years in total.  During that period, I had opportunities to read, review, and recommend manuscripts from academic librarians to be published.  It was most rewarding experience and it also inspired me to get my Ph. D. degree so that I could become a better consumer for ACRL’s research products. ACRL has done an outstanding job in encouraging and inspiring academic librarians’ interests in conducting research projects and sharing their research findings through publications.  In many ways, these research findings have served as foundation on which we developed policies, programs, and best practices to serve library users.

5. What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? As the library dean, I am able to help strategically plan library services, programs, and initiatives aligning with the university’s vision, mission, core values, and strategic directions. For instance, the University of Montana’s strategic Plan, UM 2020: Building a University for the Global Century, focuses on student success, education for global century, discovery and research, learning environment, and planning-assessment.  When we developed the library’s strategic plan, we made sure that the library plan reflects that of the university so that the library is an active player and an important participant in helping realize the university’s goals. The library faculty members have made concerted efforts in reaching out and partnering with campus units in serving our diverse student populations, including traditional and non-traditional students, Native American students, student veterans, students with learning and physical disabilities, international students, and online students. The library’s efforts have also been recognized by the campus community.

6. In your own words:  Taking a leadership position in the library profession often requires courage to get out one’s comfortable zones for new challenges. In late 2012, I took a new position as Dean of Libraries at the University of Montana. The position has offered me opportunities to practice what I learned through the ACRL Harvard Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians in which I participated previously. The Institute helped me think strategically and develop skills to be an effective administrator in facing challenges of the complex environment of higher education.  Librarians at academic libraries have played important roles in learning, teaching, research, community engagements on their campuses. ACRL has been valuable resources to help us on these exciting endeavors.


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 mpetrowski@ala.org for more information.

Member of the Week: Erin McCaffrey

Erin McCaffreyErin McCaffrey is the Electronic Services Librarian at the Regis University Dayton Memorial Library in Denver, Colorado. Erin has been an ACRL member since 2001 and is your ACRL member of the week for August 11, 2014.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Inquisitive, resilient, multi-tasker.

2. What are you currently reading?  Personal reading: The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud; Wildwood by Colin Meloy; and often books about superheroes or princesses with my young daughter. Professional reading: Managing in the Middle: The Librarian’s Handbook, edited by Robert Farrell and Kenneth Schlesinger.

3. Describe ACRL in three words:  Collaboration, advocacy, connection.

4. What do you value about ACRL? Professional development, networking, and connections. ACRL conferences provide a wonderful opportunity to get inspired. I really value ACRL’s work to keep its members on top of trends and issues and their advocacy for academic librarians. I have utilized many of the guidelines and standards produced by ACRL, most recently working with the Standards for Libraries in Higher Education as I serve on my library’s Assessment Task Force.

5. What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? I’m committed to providing a high level of service in the work that I do whether that is in helping our students or supporting my colleagues and I value the opportunities for collaboration on my campus. A lot of my work is behind the scenes and I feel like I am a bit of a “Jill of all trades.” I love the many facets of my current position and appreciate the variety of web support, system support, reference, instruction, and collection management in my work.

6. In your own words:  I’m still shocked when someone assumes that being a librarian means my job is to read books. How is that even possible in 2014? Academic librarians are very adept at navigating change and we have to continue to demonstrate the value of and advocate for our libraries. I love the spirit of collaboration in our professional development and scholarly work and feel fortunate to have worked with so many interesting, engaged, and dedicated librarians.


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 mpetrowski@ala.org for more information.

Member of the Week: Paula Dempsey

Paula DempseyPaula Dempsey is Research Services and Resources Librarian and Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago Daley Library. Paula has been an ACRL member since 1991 and is your ACRL member of the week for August 4, 2014.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Curious, dogged, fun-loving.

2. What are you currently reading?  Giving Voice to Values by Mary C. Gentile was a gift from a former colleague at DePaul University; it gives creative techniques for making values talk a routine part of decision making. And I’m on my umpteenth trip around the world with Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, in Patrick O’Brian’s 20-volume set of seafaring novels set in the 19th-century British Navy – I think of it as the adventures Jane Austen’s brothers were having while she crafted novels at home.

3. Describe ACRL in three words:  Connective, innovative, educative

4. What do you value about ACRL? I appreciate ARCL as a network of members helping one another navigate change in the profession, a source of new learning, and an advocate for libraries in academia and public policy.

5. What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? I bring systems thinking to connect academic research, the curriculum, and student needs. The more we know as librarians about what new knowledge is being generated in our areas of specialty (especially on our own campuses), where the curriculum and pedagogy are headed, and how students approach learning, the more effectively we can keep our services and resources relevant.

6. In your own words:  It’s a privilege to be part of a community where ideas are valued, interrogated, and expanded to their limits. Making the time to take ideas seriously and to strive to generate new ones means engaging in a tug-of-war with the everyday challenges of making our organizations efficient and serving our users effectively. I focus on finding meaning in the work and not forgetting to have fun along the way.


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 mpetrowski@ala.org for more information.

Member of the Week: Chris Bulock

Chris BulockChris Bulock is Electronic Resources Librarian at Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville in Edwardsville, Illinois. Chris has been an ACRL member since 2009 and is your ACRL member of the week for July 14, 2014.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Learning, persistent, open.

2. What are you currently reading?  I’m usually reading an issue of The Believer. I’ve also just started John Brandon’s A Million Heavens.

3. Describe ACRL in three words:  Networks, resources, connections.

4. What do you value about ACRL? I value the connections with innovative colleagues. Participating in ACRL and reading College & Research Libraries helps me see problems in a new way and to find solutions I never would have thought of.

5. What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? I manage the library’s electronic resources, which I hope benefits everyone on campus. I’m always pushing to make it easier for the university community to get to the resources they need, in a way that’s as intuitive as possible. I also participate heavily in service. I have been involved in program reviews and work with a student group that helps guide the functioning of the university center. The work I do at the state and national level is also in hopes that improvements in the profession will trickle down to our campus here.

6. In your own words:  I was attracted to librarianship because of my time working on the reference desk as an undergraduate. I loved being able to answer the questions of students and faculty members, to show them new ways to find information, and to learn from passionate experts along the way. Now, I get the same feeling of satisfaction from my work with electronic resources (though I still do reference). If I’m doing my job right, then I’m able to facilitate learning for something like 14,000 people, making it easier for them to find information they might not have found otherwise; to know things they might not have known. Because our students and faculty have many opportunities to share their research, I’m also able to see the end results, to share their excitement, and to think about how I can better serve that community.


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 mpetrowski@ala.org for more information.

The ACRL Member of the Week feature will be taking a brief summer vacation for the next couple of weeks. We’ll return with more member profiles o

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