2020 ULS Candidate for Member-At-Large: Chris Miller
Tell us more about yourself and how you became an academic librarian.
I had a bit of a winding road to becoming an academic librarian. Not having a firm grasp of what I wanted to do with my life, after college I went back into the revolving door of mostly low-wage/low-opportunity jobs (ask me about my brief time selling meat door-to-door!). After a few years of this, I got a part-time job at a local college working on their reference desk and absolutely fell in love with the work. At that point, I decided that this is what I needed to be doing. I then applied to any library job that I could find, until I was hired as a paraprofessional at a university library full-time. That university also had a library school, so I completed my MLS part-time while working. Fast forward a few years and now I work at a library that specializes in all aspects of labor and human resources, a perfect blend of my education and my experiences.
How long have you been involved in ULS and what attracted you to the section?
I believe that I have been a member for about 7 years. To be honest, I joined because it seemed to be the section most closely aligned with my work setting and because I felt I should check a box on the membership form. Because I did this, though, I started to go to various ULS programs at conferences and found a lot of value in them. One of those programs was a social and I was able to meet a great group of people that welcomed me and included me and that was what has really made ULS feel like something to stick with. I was able to join a couple of committees and have enjoyed those experiences as well.
In your opinion, what are some of the most interesting topics or trends we’re seeing in university libraries?
Working in the library I work in, I often tend to look at things through the lens of the workplace. So some of the trends I see have to do with attempts of libraries to address issues of diversity, inclusion, and belonging among staff. Beyond the workplace itself, I also think that it is important to consider these issues as they relate to services and resources offered, for instance, to first generation students and users from marginalized communities.
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?
Being the largest section in ACRL inevitably leads to some people not being able to be as involved as they would like to be. My biggest goal for my time in this position would be to foster a sense of belonging among members so that everyone could feel included and connected. Committees could be part of the answer, but it will most likely take alternative means to engage members in a meaningful way.
Where do you see ULS going in the future? How does it need to change and evolve to stay relevant to academic librarians?
In the future, ULS will need to contend with the same turbulence that is predicted for the higher education industry as a whole (see for instance “The Looming Higher Ed Enrollment Cliff” from Higher Ed HR Magazine). While not all institutions will feel the impact as much as others, we will still need to strategize ways to prove the value of membership and prepare to help those that are affected by that or any other difficulties that might lead to declining membership.
Tell us something interesting about yourself that not very many people know.
I love to make things. I am a member of our local makerspace, as well as a frequent visitor to the makerspace in one of the other libraries on campus. I mostly work with wood, but have been known to dabble in 3-d printing, laser cutting, vinyl cutting, and I even just did my first cross stitch project.