ULS Outstanding Professional Development Award Interview: Lynda Kellam

Lynda Kellam was selected as the 2019 recipient of the ACRL ULS Outstanding Professional Development Award for creating the webinar series “Help! I’m an Accidental Government Information Librarian.” The $1,000 award and plaque will be presented to her at the ULS reception at the 2019 ALA Annual Conference in Washington DC. The full award announcement, including comments from the Award Committee chair, is available on the ALA website.

Congratulations to Lynda, who agreed to do an interview.

picture of Lynda Kellam
Lynda Kellam

Tell us a little bit about yourself and the work that you do.

I have been the Data Services Librarian at UNC Greensboro since 2007 and the Assistant Director of UNC Greensboro’s International & Global Studies program since 2016. I also serve as the instruction and collections liaison for Political Science, History, Peace & Conflict Studies, and Sociology. As of July 1, I will be the Research Data Services Librarian at Cornell’s Institute for Social and Economic Research, where I will be part of the leadership team. I am excited to start a new chapter at Cornell even though I will miss my UNCG colleagues.

Why is professional development important for the librarian profession?

It is difficult to cover the wide range of services required for the profession within a two-year graduate program. Even if you can take more specialized coursework, you may be limited by the types of classes available (i.e., few data or government information focused courses) and the resources available to your instructors. Most of us are expected to learn on the job, but that can be stressful when you are trying to help someone with a completely unfamiliar question. Some of us have local experts who we can ask for help, but others are isolated either physically or institutionally. The Help! webinar series was created to provide support to those librarians by drawing on the expertise within the larger community.

Tell us about a transformative professional development experience that impacted your career as a librarian.

I’ve had several helpful professional development experiences in my career as a librarian, but probably the most transformative was a series on global engagement and intercultural competence. Our Quality Enhancement Plan for the past few years has been based on the idea of global engagement. Every year, the QEP office holds a multi-day workshop on aspects of global engagement, such as working with diverse student populations or developing globally engaged learning outcomes. The experiences gave me the opportunity to meet faculty outside of my liaison areas, to learn about and develop my abilities with intercultural competence, and to think of ways to embed global engagement into my role as a librarian. Through these experiences I realized the power of moving outside of my specific field and discovered ways that I could engage more effectively with our student body.

What was the professional development contribution(s) you made that led to receiving this award?

The Government Resources Section of the North Carolina Library Association created the Help! I’m an Accidental Government Information Librarian webinar series in 2011 in response to budget cuts at most of our institutions during the recession. We knew that our members could not travel to workshops as easily as they had in the past, and we decided to draw on the technology available for free at UNC Greensboro. Mimi Curlee from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library suggested that Bryna Coonin, a librarian at East Carolina University, would be a good inaugural speaker, and Bryna agreed, noting that she would only do the first webinar if we agreed to make it an ongoing series. And we made good on our promise to her. We have had over 80 webinars since 2011 on a variety of topics, some directly on government documents and others related to issues of interests to those supporting government information. You can learn about upcoming webinars on the NCLA site (https://www.nclaonline.org/) or check out the recordings on our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6CfualeU8N77us06prY10Q). Also, I want to give a huge thank you to ULS for the recognition! It is a tremendous honor for me, but many people have put hard work into the series, sharing their expertise and time. The series is based on an ethic of sharing and learning that embodies the best of librarianship as a field.

What is something about you that most people don’t know?

I studied Croatian language for many years as part of my political science program and had the chance to live in Croatia in the early 2000s. I’m also a huge Game of Thrones fan and especially love that I recognize many of the locations in King’s Landing from my time living in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

The ULS Outstanding Professional Development Award is sponsored by Library Juice Academy.

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