ACRL Member of the Week: Sharon Kay Edwards

Sharon Edwards

Sharon Kay Edwards is a reference librarian at Motlow State Community College in McMinnville, Tennessee. Sharon has been a member of ACRL for 2 years and is your ACRL member of the week for January 7, 2019.

Sharon EdwardsDescribe yourself in three words: Scrappy, inventive, compassionate.

What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device(s)? Currently, I’m reading the music edition of Oxford American. I’m a sucker for Southern Lit and music, so it’s right up my alley. I’m also starting Linda Kay Klein’s book, Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free. On my three-hour round trip commute, I listen to a combination of podcasts from BookRiot, Circ Ideas, and the TED Radio Hour. I also listen to a lot of music, especially Jason Isbell.

Describe ACRL in three words: Helpful, informative, welcoming.

What do you value about ACRL? I enjoy the many and varied discussions available to ACRL members in the Listservs as well as the in-depth studies and perspectives in the ACRL News. I consider reading these part of my professional development as I inevitably come away with new ideas to consider and a new appreciation for librarianship. I love how supportive,informative, and respectful the membership is when engaging with one another in the discussion space. I also really appreciate the ACRL Framework and utilize it when teaching Information Literacy.

What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? Along with the typical library services like User Services, Reference Aid and Information Literacy Instruction, I have also worked to ensure the collection offers our students a myriad of diverse perspectives and viewpoints. As you all know, reading outside of your own perspective enhances the education of any student. As a former Youth Services Librarian, I’ve been able to utilize my programming background to enhance the library user experience by creating interactive Banned Books Week displays and developing an end-of-semester partnership with Student Services centered around finals week and the week before finals. In addition to extended library hours, reference help, and two days of pizza, we are now able to offer: snacks all week, coffee and hot chocolate, and active and passive programming around a fun theme. The students love it! (And we do too.)

In your own words: Making the transition from various public libraries to an academic one has been easier than I expected. While an academic library user’s motive may differ from a public library user’s, the essence of the interaction remains the same. I know as long as I remain focused on the user’s experience, each interaction will be a successful one. This user-driven mindset guides me every day as I provide individualized information service to patrons and work to meet their specific need. I absolutely love being a librarian and am proud to be part of an occupation guided by professional ethics and the ALA Bill of Rights—both of which are displayed in my library. Thanks to the relatively new state education initiatives, Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, our student enrollment is rapidly increasing, bringing many first-generation students and adult learners. I really enjoy working with these students in class and individually—helping them become more information savvy, increasing their digital literacy, empowering them to achieve their dreams, and hopefully creating a new batch of library advocates.