2022 ULS Candidate for Member-at-Large: Yang Wu
Tell us more about yourself and how you became an academic librarian.
I am the Open Resources Librarian at Clemson University Libraries in South Carolina and have been there since 2018. My journey in librarianship is one of exploration, with many exciting experiences and realizations. I love to read books and spent a lot of time in libraries ever since my childhood. While studying in graduate school in history, I became fascinated with academic libraries, spending a lot of time doing research in university libraries in multiple countries. I was amazed by the resources they contained, the ability of libraries to bring hard-to-find sources from across the world to my fingertip through e-databases and interlibrary loan, and the expertise of university librarians in locating resources. This motivated me to enter library school and to seek a career in academic libraries after graduating.
I discovered in my pursuit of librarianship that academic libraries were more than just resources. Academic librarians often collaborate with faculty in research and engaged in their own research projects that rivalled those of faculty in scope. I also discovered that academic librarians were social justice advocates. They protected the rights of all students to access learning materials, the academic community against the inequalities created by subscription paywalls and helped to foster an inclusive climate on campus at a turbulent time in our history. I am motivated to bring positive changes to these aspects of academic librarianship through my work. I became a librarian of Open Educational Resources and Open Access, with a strong interest in research projects and working to foster equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) as a result.
How long have you been involved in ULS and what attracted you to the section?
I joined the ACRL in 2018 and have been a member of ULS since then. As an early career librarian, I am eager to expand my knowledge of academic libraries and new trends in them. Being a part of ULS was a natural choice, and I actively followed its activities. Interested in EDI, I volunteered for the ULS EDI Taskforce, which was formed to study how the ULS can incorporate EDI into its activities in 2021. With other Taskforce members, we developed a survey seeking feedback from ULS members on concrete steps the Section can take to enhance EDI, to support the activities of member institutions, and wrote a report to the ULS executive committee based on the findings. This was a unique opportunity to take part in research related to a professional organization encompassing all university libraries in North America, and I hope for more chances to serve ULS in the future.
In your opinion, what are some of the most interesting topics or trends we’re seeing in university libraries?
Three major recent trends that are very important to me are (1) enhancing student access to online learning resources, (2) improving EDI in academic libraries, and (3) critical librarianship. COVID-19 has created a need for low cost, easily accessible and engaging online learning materials. This trend supported online learning during the pandemic and will remain after restrictions have been lifted. Academic libraries have taken a lead in providing students access to online learning materials, and they are also actively addressing the inequalities in access to learning caused by high textbook prices through encouraging the use of Open Education Resources. In the wake of a growing public awakening to systemic racism following the murder of George Floyd, academic libraries have also become aware of the need to take meaningful action in fostering equity, diversity and inclusion in workplaces and larger library profession. Academic librarians have also embraced critical librarianship, an attempt to critique and expose power relations related to race, gender, class that shape library practice, and to foster a more self-reflective and equitable mindset among students through library instruction.
The three developments are inter-related, with critical librarianship supporting EDI, and Open Educational Resources alleviating inequalities in access to learning by students from disadvantaged and under-represented groups and being used in education that fosters a self-reflective and critical mindset. I have actively pursued all these trends in my work and feel that they are crucial to both improving the academic library profession and the betterment of society.
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?
Having served on the ULS EDI taskforce and with a keen interest in the subject, I would really like to play a role in continuing the work it had begun. This could involve but is not limited to fostering greater participation by under-represented librarians in the ULS, encouraging their leadership in ULS activities, providing career mentoring for these librarians, and giving assistance to ULS members seeking to make positive changes in EDI at their institutions through offering them programming and professional development. I feel that committees and members can enhance the value of ULS participation by actively researching EDI issues, integrate efforts to address them into ULS activities and bringing attention to them through discussions.
Where do you see ULS going in the future? How does it need to change and evolve to stay relevant to academic librarians?
ULS is the largest of section in the ACRL. Unlike many other sections, it covers a broad range of issues related to academic libraries, which often overlap with other sections and includes members with many specializations. This makes it hard to keep members focused on the section or actively engaged in its activities. The ULS can enhance its relevance to academic librarians by identifying and addressing issues that are of concern to all of them. EDI can be one of these issues, and there are many others waiting to be explored.
Tell us something interesting about yourself that not very many people know.
I am a Canadian and have a love for pencil sketching, cooking, fitness, and a passion for travel.