1. Describe yourself in three words: Curious, practical, gnarly.
2. What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device)? I’ve just finished reading The Book of Phoenix by the award-winning Nnedi Okorafor, which is the prequel to Who Fears Death. Read about the author’s reaction to receiving the World Fantasy Award which came with the bust of a racist. I didn’t consider myself a science fiction or fantasy reader until very recently—that was when I discovered a whole slew of works written by women of color and now I am hooked.
3. Describe ACRL in three words: My librarian peeps.
4. What do you value about ACRL? I attended my first ACRL conference in 2015 while in library school and it had so many programs I wanted to attend with so many librarians that spoke my language. This cemented that academic librarianship was where I wanted to be. I also read College & Research Libraries News and subscribe to a lot of useful listservs through ACRL. Librarians are so willing to share their ideas and stories and they’re also very willing to have disagreements in a respectful way. I’ve been enjoying the sometimes heated debates about the Framework. I also value the professional development opportunities through ACRL. My community college library doesn’t have a lot of funds for professional development so I appreciate the free webinars.
5. What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your institution? I do a lot of instruction so I probably see 500 students a semester in one and two-shots and sometimes for-credit classes. In my sessions I always share my story of why I became a librarian: during my first semester in college, I failed a class because I never turned in this huge research assignment. And I tell my students that if a librarian had come into my class and offered help I might have written that paper instead of being paralyzed by the research process. I hope that by sharing my story, students can connect their experiences with mine and actually come in for help. I tell them I don’t want to see them fail like I did!
I feel like librarians, more than any other faculty on my campus, are scrappy and resourceful. My library is on the first floor of a one-building campus so we get a lot of visitors. We know a lot of different people and we’re able to connect students, staff, and faculty to different resources and people. We know how to get stuff done around campus because we have to manage facilities, an online presence, IT, purchasing, supplies, and outside vendors. As such, we also tend to get out of our silos more.
I’ve also co-authored and co-coordinated two grants focused on Open Educational Resources (OER). I’m helping faculty adopt OER textbooks to make college more affordable for students. Students and faculty alike have been very grateful and I’m proud that so far we have saved students over $500,000 in textbook costs.
6. In your own words: I’ve had many jobs in different industries—in non-profits, construction, education, food service—and this is my favorite job so far. I like the variety in this career path because I’m interested in many things and wouldn’t be happy just doing one thing all the time. Academic librarianship has room for both reading critlib theory and cuddling with dogs in the library to de-stress students.
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.