Member of the Week: Robert Kelly

Robert KellyRobert Kelly is Coordinator of Library Services at the Hutchinson Community College John F. Kennedy Library in Hutchinson, Kansas. Robert has been an ACRL member since 2003 and is your ACRL member of the week for September 29, 2014.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Collaborative, good-humored steward

2. What are you currently reading (or listening to on your mobile device)?  I always have multiple things going. A sample from what I’m currently reading: The Mysterious West, edited by Tony Hillerman; The Mental Game of Poker by Jared Tendler; Mastering Omaha/8 Poker by Mark Tenner and Lou Krieger; and That Old Ace in the Hole by Annie Proulx.

3. Describe ACRL in three words:  Not Just Universities.

4. What do you value about ACRL? I have appreciated the recent energy the organization has committed to be more inclusive of two-year community and technical colleges in national initiatives (such as advocating for financial literacy and the role of the library in campus’ overall provision of programming, services, and resources), conference programming, and standards creation/revision. The bi-annual conferences are essential to attend to gain and share knowledge and to enjoy the great concentration of vendors that market to the higher education sector. The organization is a core source of standards and best practices. The ACRL Choice magazine is a core collection development tool and it too is working to position itself to be more relevant to the two-year environment. The organization is one where librarians have opportunities to be involved in something that matters.

5. What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? As Coordinator of Library Services (aka Library Director) I am responsible for library oversight in a position that combines administrative leadership with front-line activities. I lead our instruction program, participate in reference services, actively liaison with faculty, serve on campus committees, and generally be the face of the college library on campus. I also advocate for the library, the college, and Kansas two-year colleges in general by being actively involved in local, state, and regional organizations. In turn I keep my administration informed of potential opportunities and threats.

6. In your own words:  Five lessons learned in every position I’ve held:

  • From day one get to know the people that really matter on campus: secretaries/admin assistants; ITS staff (including the director); and maintenance staff. They are the ones who really run the campus and have the power to ruin or make your day.
  • From day one get to know who the faculty and staff library heros are. Oil those squeaky wheels because they will help you viral market to draw more faculty and students in.
  • Look for opportunities to matter. You want people to know who you are and to trust you. In turn, those people will always have the library in the back of their mind and will be reluctant to attack it if for no other reason than because they know you.
  • Don’t be afraid to jump ship before being pushed. Opportunities may drop in your lap and you’d best be prepared to seize them when they do. Often you only get one chance. That especially is relevant to getting involved in campus initiatives and committees as well as when considering a change of employment. A corollary: It is always easier to pursue an opportunity when you don’t have to.
  • To make real change you must get involved in leading and do so actively. Armchair complainers and saber rattlers rarely yield any success because they don’t have any influence or control.

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 for more information.