1. Describe yourself in three words: Open, energetic, analytical.
2. What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device)? I am finishing Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth and starting Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. My current Library Journal review assignment is Willie Drye’s For Sale—American Paradise, a popular history of Florida in the Roaring Twenties. Waiting on my bookshelf at home are Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carré, Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo, and Program or Be Programmed by Douglas Rushkoff. I love digesting so-called difficult fiction while on my daily commutes, so I am listening to Neuromancer, the seminal cyberpunk novel by William Gibson, narrated by Robertson Dean.
3. Describe ACRL in three words: Community, sharing, growth.
4. What do you value about ACRL? ACRL affords amazing opportunities for developing professional skills and knowledge—but above all for building meaningful connections with peers. I am particularly thankful to ACRL for awarding me a 2015 Early-Career Librarian Scholarship to attend the ACRL 2015 Conference in Portland, Oregon, which truly has been the highlight of my career so far. I befriended fellow attendees and even went on a glorious interstate road trip with one of them. ACRL also affords online spaces for collaboration, sharing, and idea generation. I look forward to finding College & Research Libraries News in my mailbox each month. I especially appreciate the warm welcome that ACRL extends to new librarians like me.
5. What do you, as an academic librarian, contribute to your campus? As E-Learning Librarian at Hodges University, I manage the library’s digital services and electronic resources, teach and tutor students, and work with faculty to develop better courses and research skills. I advise faculty on copyright, manage the library’s presence in Blackboard, and design learning objects, including an animated orientation video that all new students are required to view. I serve on campus committees for student success, diversity and inclusion, and other areas. I have discovered a knack for negotiating better deals on electronic resources—in one year I’ve saved tens of thousands of dollars while growing the resources to which we have access. I like to joke that my position is budget-neutral because of all these savings! I am a jack-of-all-trades, and right now I enjoy it.
6. In your own words: As an academic librarian, I try to push beyond the old paradigm of helping users find and evaluate information. We are user-centered hopefully in terms of customer service, web design, and instructional design, aligning those practices with what users need and how they function. We help people by design, both in terms of intentionality and in terms of designing good environments and experiences for our users. We also open access, in the sense of delivering ready access to print and electronic resources as well as in the sense of driving more open and sustainable publishing models. Most importantly, we connect information with people, helping folks attain their goals through critical engagement with information. These activities are universal to librarians—you don’t have to be an ivory-tower academic, or even a MLIS holder, to deliver each of these outcomes.
The library is one of the few academic departments that collaborates or intersects with all stakeholders on campus. As a librarian, I have taught class sessions and technology boot camps, helped faculty to design courses and select materials, been interviewed on television to promote university events, been asked to advise the institution on proper capitalization (!), served as a writing tutor and test proctor, assisted student clubs, and cultivated close relationships to staff in other departments who keep me tuned into our internal environment. Actions as simple as dropping by faculty offices to chat or pausing to greet the receptionists create opportunities to do our jobs better. Between opening access, helping people, and engaging communities, academic librarianship is a joy.
Editor’s Note: Are you an ACRL member? Would you like to be featured as ACRL Member of the Week? Nominate a colleague? Contact Mary Jane Petrowski at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.