2019 ULS Vice Chair/Chair-Elect: Michelle Demeter
Michelle Demeter is one of two candidates this year for ULS Vice Chair/Chair-Elect. She is the Head of Instruction & Undergraduate Services at New York University. Read this interview to learn more about Michelle and what her goals would be if elected as Vice Chair/Chair-Elect.
Tell us more about yourself and how you became an academic librarian.
I became an academic librarian after a brief stint as a high school English and Journalism teacher. I really enjoy teaching, but I wanted a job where I had more freedom to do creative instruction and to find new ways of supporting student research and success. I found academic librarianship to be a great way to have a lot of flexibility in the ways I connect with students. I think undergraduates are unique in their position within universities and hold perhaps the most potential because of the ever-changing needs and demands of the world around us. As we see technology and entrepreneurship play increased roles in the direction of career development, whether those careers are scientific or creative in nature, I think academic librarians are uniquely poised to provide a range of instruction, research support, and engagement to help students and faculty attain success.
How long have you been involved in ULS and what attracted you to the section?
I have been involved with ULS since 2015 when I served on the ULS Outreach committee. I find ULS to be significant in raising issues unique to university librarianship. The engagement with my peers has been fruitful in developing and exchanging ideas regarding outreach and instruction that are particularly suited to university faculty and students. For me, ULS is one of the strongest professional ACRL sections I belong to.
In your opinion, what are some of the most interesting topics or trends we’re seeing in university libraries?
I think some of the most interesting trends are a movement toward interdisciplinary makerspaces and an involvement with entrepreneurship. I also think finding unique ways to have meaningful engagement with students and faculty on a one-on-one level is an emerging trend as we consider alternatives to the instructional one-shot. Of course as we move toward more individualized and unique services and support, the issue of scalability is always evident, but I think this is also a great time for new academic librarians who have perspectives on these challenges to bring their ideas to the forefront. We should be looking for ways to help new librarian find their voice and actively participate in the profession.
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?
I would like to see more outreach and mentorship to new professionals to ensure we are welcoming new ideas and perspectives. I think our first steps would include reaching out to various new professional groups while evaluating our approach to supporting mentorship and the recruitment and involvement of new members in ULS. I’d also like to move the conversation about equity, diversity and inclusion past mere conversation into real and concrete action. I think calling on our membership to develop actionable goals, training and support is needed. This might take the form of a task force or the creation of a new group within ULS, but there needs to be more outreach in general to new and diverse academic librarians to ensure we have as many voices represented at the table and in determining the future paths of academic librarianship.
Where do you see ULS going in the future? How does it need to change and evolve to stay relevant to academic librarians?
I think ULS needs to communicate its value more clearly to academic librarians. There are some amazing projects and conversations happening, but I think we can do a better job of advertising those opportunities and bringing in new members. I think ULS needs to perhaps make itself a little louder and uses the seat it has in leadership with ACRL to drive important conversations about the future of our profession. We need to be sure we are listening to our constituents and ensuring that we not only listen but that we actually provide a range of valuable services and support that allow academic librarians to be even more effective and successful.
Tell us something interesting about yourself that not very many people know.
I’m not sure what people might not know but I’ll just say I love world’s fairs and expositions. I love researching them and am currently writing my dissertation on the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair and am looking forward to visiting the next world’s fair– Expo 2020 Dubai.