2023 ULS Candidate for Vice-Chair-Elect: Nancy S. Gibson
Tell us more about yourself and how you became an academic librarian.
I’ve been a librarian for over 19 years, all at a comprehensive regional university in the southeast, and am looking forward to what the future brings! While I didn’t start out thinking I would be a librarian, much less an academic librarian, librarianship has been an excellent fit for me as it combines several of my interests, including technology and training. But it’s also much more, and I truly began to see that while working in library school doing different jobs in instruction, reference, and library technology. So as I transition into leading our Access Services unit, I’m thinking about how all our different library units work together to serve our students and university community while breaking down silos that can exist in our libraries and campuses.
How long have you been involved in ULS and what attracted you to the section?
I have been involved with ULS for several years, starting as a member of the Procedures committee to get familiar with the section and then serving as Member-at-Large. During this time, I worked with ULS folks on two projects: updating the ULS manual from static PDFs to the libguide platform and surveying members about what they’d like to see from ULS. While the survey was a few years ago, there are some enduring trends around belonging and finding our voice as a section.
Why ULS? It and the sections for college and community college librarians address academic librarianship as a whole and have a complementary role to play to discipline and job-type sections and groups. I’m excited to see how we can build on these complementary strengths and increase the value and benefits for all ACRL members.
In your opinion, what are some of the most interesting topics or trends we’re seeing in university libraries?
How do we take care of ourselves as information and educational professionals in increasingly challenging political, economic, and social times while striving to provide innovative and forward-thinking resources and services for our academic communities? How do we help each other within the section and across sections do these two simultaneously? How can we work justly and smartly together to achieve the impossible? What new and existing tools and collaborations can we bring to the forefront to help us in our work? Let’s work together to make the impossible possible and even better through our collective knowledge and imagination.
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 goals build on the excellent work being done by ULS committees and promote our section’s professional development offerings and group discussions through creative initiatives. I would ask chairs and conveners what hurdles and obstacles they encounter within the section, the division, and ALA as a whole and work to address any issues by reaching out and working with others to provide collaborative solutions.
Where do you see ULS going in the future? How does it need to change and evolve to stay relevant to academic librarians?
As an organization that advances university librarianship, this includes making sure all section members are treated equitably, included as valued members, and that the section truly represents our country’s demographics. Several initiatives are already underway by ALA, ACRL, and ULS to guide us in our short-term and long-term section goals and activities. I think continuing to work with similar sections, academic chapters, and ACRL and ALA at large to build a network of resources, increase advocacy, and ensure a sense of belonging will benefit section members.
Tell us something interesting about yourself that not very many people know.
One of the more interesting Girl Scout badges I earned was for rowing. Like any sport, I learned a lot from rowing competitively as a team, from steering the boat and projecting my voice as a coxswain to getting the large wooden boats in and out of the water and rowing with teammates to race to the finish. Rowing was an incredible adventure that reminded me to be flexible and roll with the action to accomplish common goals.