2019 ULS Candidate for Member-at-Large: Somaly Kim Wu
Somaly Kim Wu is one of three candidates this year for ULS Member at Large. She is the Head of Library Technology & Innovation at the UNC Charlotte. Read this interview to learn more about Somaly as a candidate.
Tell us more about yourself and how you became an academic librarian.
My background is in history so I have had a lifelong love affair with knowledge and information. I was introduced to academic librarianship as a possible career while working as a student supervisor in college. The librarians I worked with were wonderful mentors and encouraged my interest and pursuit of the career. My graduate coursework focused on digital libraries and upon graduation, I was able to merge my interest in technology and love of public services by working with students in a university setting.
How long have you been involved in ULS and what attracted you to the section?
I have participated informally in ULS throughout my entire career. Most frequently attending and participating in the section’s events and programming at ALA Annual and virtually. What draws me to ULS is the section’s commitment to advancing the work and impact of academic libraries. I think having a more formal role will enable me to contribute and affect more change.
In your opinion, what are some of the most interesting topics or trends we are seeing in university libraries?
As a department head of a public facing technology unit, I focus my time and energy on the role of technology in higher education, in particular the academic libraries’ role in spurring innovation through access to technology services and spaces. As academic libraries expertise extend beyond bibliographic instruction, embracing our expertise and contributing to university IT governance is the logical next step.
What goals for the section would you have if elected to this position? How do you envision committees and members helping the section achieve those goals?
My overarching goal if elected is advocacy and inclusivity. I would work to encourage formal and informal participation by members to showcase university library impact to research and scholarship. As a member of an underrepresented group, I want to use my voice to highlight issues and concerns of those voices without a platform to speak and share.
Where do you see ULS going in the future? How does it need to change and evolve to stay relevant to academic librarians?
I see ULS evolving to focus more on issues of diversity and inclusivity. To tackle issues of representation or lack thereof, ULS must work together to establish a safe and welcoming space for new and current members from all walks of life.
Tell us something interesting about yourself that not very many people know.
I speak Cambodian fluently but did not know the term for librarian to explain my career choice to my parents. One of my proudest life moments was looking up the term bunnarek which loosely translated means keeper of knowledge, to tell my dad and the pride that emanated from him because this role, was once reserved for men.