ACRL Member of the Week: E. Haven Hawley

E. Haven Hawley is the chair, special and area studies collections department at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Haven has been a member of ACRL for 11 years and is your ACRL Member of the Week for December 5, 2022.

Describe yourself in three words: Seeking humane excellence.

What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device)? I am listening to Fiona Hill narrate There Is Nothing For You Here: Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century. And I’m working my way in bits and pieces through Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself and Nathan W. Pyle’s Strange Planet series.

Describe ACRL in three words: ACRL fosters conversations.

What do you value about ACRL? ACRL connects professionals managing cultural heritage collections with the larger field of academic librarianship. ACRL is also my gateway to the American Library Association, which lets all of us tap into public trust of librarians and learn from our colleagues in public libraries. I’ve been impressed by the interest that so many academic librarians have in archives and special collections, and ACRL is an organization that can facilitate those conversations.

What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus?

I work in a department that integrates special and area studies collections. It’s challenging to work across rare books, manuscripts, archives, and artifacts, as well as languages, regions, and time periods – and I really enjoy the complexity. My role is to create space and manage resources that allow us to be reflective in creating collections that are relevant today and into the future. Probably what I contribute most to my campus is an appreciation for how complicated people’s lives are and how important it is to preserve a messy past for the future. Much of my work is in the background, encouraging colleagues, looking for connections, and working out unknowns. One of my professors in grad school talked about packing a suitcase for the future – something light enough for another person to carry, but with whatever will sustain them as they travel to an unknown location. I think about that a lot in my work. Every day, curators and staff are packing those suitcases and trying to match today’s research topics and instructional needs with what people in the past packed for us. Community partnerships are increasingly important in making sure that we pack what the future needs.

In your own words: I’ve often talked about archives as a profession where we are always walking with people through grief and loss, as well as experiencing it ourselves. The last two years have opened us up in new ways. Our department has had honest and humbling conversations about inequality and racism in our work and in the larger world, and we have made stronger commitments to diversifying collections and creating job ladders for staff. People have been extraordinarily vulnerable as we have tried to address unequal risks during COVID. So, yes, 2020 began something really different for my colleagues and me. I have learned some deep lessons about communication, power sharing, and what it takes to trust and be trusted. It has been a time for many openings and lessons about building a better world together. I’m still working on that.


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