Michelle McCarthy-Behler is Reference Services Librarian, Special Collections at the Center for Jewish History in New York City. Michelle first joined ACRL in 2012 and is your ACRL member of the week for April 30, 2018.
Describe yourself in three words: Motivated. Persistent. Creative.
What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device(s)? For the last few years, I have been reading literature on the African Diaspora and specifically Afro-Cuban religious traditions. I recently finished A Year in White: Cultural Newcomers to Lukumi and Santeria in the United States by C. Lynn Carr, which is a study on the priestly initiation into the Lukumi tradition. It includes the author’s own journal entries and memories of her year in white as well as narratives related to the author by both cultural newcomers and those raised in Orisha traditions in response to open-ended survey questions.
Describe ACRL in three words: Engaging. Forward-thinking. Community.
What do you value about ACRL? What I value most about ACRL are the members and the chance to connect with an encouraging and helpful community within academic librarianship. It has a member-driven culture of advocacy, assessment, and professional development that I find incredibly useful in my career.
What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus/institution? As the Reference Services Librarian for Special Collections at the Center for Jewish History in a centralized reading room for five partner organizations, I work with archivists, conservators, and a diverse patron-base to ensure that collections are accessible to every learner through tours, exhibitions, and presentations, and contribute to the design of a highly inclusive student-engagement program tailored to the needs of K-12 groups, higher education classes, and community organizations. Working as part of a dedicated team inspires me to be a highly creative and innovative special collections educator and enhances my passion for educational equality to redefine the use of special collections for all learners.
In your own words: I find working as a special collections librarian in a research institution to be a collaborative and engaging experience on a daily basis. I love being challenged to design and create educational content and resources for different groups and discovering new ways with which collections are being used. This happens across the board, whether working with K-12 or university students, and delivers outcome-based insight into our value as research librarians and the ways in which educational practices are developing within the field.