ACRL Member of the Week: Carmen Cole

Carmen Cole is Information Sciences and Business Liaison Librarian at Penn State University in University Park, PA. Carmen has been a member of ACRL for 8 years and is your ACRL Member of the Week for November 27, 2023.

Describe yourself in three words: Kind, curious, driven.

What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device)? My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead, Here All Along by Sarah Hurwitz, and Feminist Cross-Stitch by Stephanie Rohr. I have been listening to a lot of Duran Duran and The War on Drugs, as well as past episodes of the You’re Wrong About podcast.

Describe ACRL in three words: Community, learning, timely.

What do you value about ACRL? The connections I’ve made with colleagues throughout the country and the valuable learning experiences that ACRL provides have been a game-changer for my professional development. I like that ACRL has such a diverse selection of sections and roundtables. There is something for everyone!

What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? Helping students realize that they are actively contributing to the scholarly conversation, no matter the format, is the most gratifying part of my job. I stress to students that the scholarly conversation includes creatively contributing their thoughts and opinions beyond traditional academic venues. Students may think their voices don’t matter, but a critical part of my job is to provide constant support and encouragement in emphasizing the value of their work. I enjoy the deep, collaborative relationships I have developed in my liaison areas over the seven years I’ve been in my role and look forward to furthering my work with assisting faculty in developing and adopting OER for their courses.

In your own words: Academic librarianship is my second career. I worked in clothing retail management for several years before I decided to pursue my MLIS. Although it took me four years to earn my MLIS (I was often working three jobs at once), transitioning to a career in academic librarianship has proven to be one of the best decisions of my life. When I began my library career, I constantly felt behind my colleagues in terms of possessing technology skills (for example, I hadn’t used Microsoft Office for YEARS) and knowledge about the culture of academia. My imposter syndrome was very real. However, through the support of kind and generous colleagues, I now feel confident about my librarian skill set and as an overall contributor to the profession. I have been fortunate to engage in several professional development opportunities (like attending several ACRL conferences and the Immersion Program in 2019) that have helped me to realize, “Hey! I do know what I’m doing!”

Editor’s Note: Would you like to be featured as ACRL Member of the Week? Nominate a colleague? Fill out this form and we’ll be in touch!