ACRL Member of the Week: Jordan S. Sly

Jordan S. Sly is an anthropology, philosophy, religious studies, digital humanities, French, Italian, and German librarian at the University of Maryland in College Park. Jordan has been a member of ACRL for 8 years and is your ACRL Member of the Week for October 17, 2022.

Describe yourself in three words: Father, academic, traveler.

What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device)? What a difficult question! At the moment I am studying for my comprehensive exams for my PhD program (17th century European history) so I’m kind of reading everything (!). For fun reading though I am reading a book by John Fowles called The Collector, but I am not enjoying it as much as I enjoyed his major work The Magus, which was terrific. I just finished book one of the Dance to the Music of Time series by Anthony Powell called A Question of Upbringing. I am a real sucker for books about school days and campus novels. I also just finished, and definitely recommend, a book by Johaan Hari called Stolen Focus which is about our obsession with distraction and what to do about it. In terms of listening I am, as I write this, listening to Miles Davis’s Sorcerer, but before that David Russell playing Bach. I mostly listen to jazz and classical, but I also enjoy prog-rock (Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, etc.) and some progressive pop like Brian Eno, some Roxy Music, etc. and British Invasion classic rock.

Describe ACRL in three words: Connected, collaborative, comprehensive.

What do you value about ACRL? I have been a long-time member of ACRL and what I’ve always valued is the focus on collaboration and shared experience. The divisions, groups, etc. have always been such a terrific place to learn from others and share my own experiences. I’ve participated in ACRL programs like the Assessment in Action project, for example, and that was a terrific learning experience; the lessons from which I continue to mine today in fact. Additionally, ACRL has provided me a lot of leadership experience as I’ve chaired groups like the EBSS Psychology group, the discussion group for ESS on the Romance Languages, and now serving as the vice-chair/chair elect of the ESS overall. 

What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? This has been a changing element in my career overall. In my earlier career, I was focused on things like instruction and reference and I shared my knowledge with students in those capacities. I’ve always been very student focused, so I bring an alternate form of experience and help to students and serve as a sounding board for their complaints and needs and act as a positive advocate for them in their experience on our campus. As I’ve advanced in my career, I bring these elements with me, but serve more administrative functions and service to the university through our senate and other places. I bring the library’s perspective to these groups and function as an advocate for our position on campus and our position as a campus hub and support office.

In your own words: I am extraordinarily lucky and thankful for my position and career. I’ve worked very hard, as those close to me know. There was a time in my early career where it was necessary to work both a day job and a night and evening job and therefore working almost all hours of the day and night in order to gain valuable experience, but that experience and other more grinding experiences helped prepare me for my career and has given me an appreciation for the career I have. We do vital work in the academy and and mission of high education writ large is extremely vital and life changing for so many. I find working as an academic librarian to be personally very rewarding as well as we have the opportunity and responsibility to help students and faculty achieve greatness. There are times when the work can feel overly bureaucratic and never ending, but it is important to keep sight of the larger goals we can achieve and push others to achieve. I love working with, and will continue to work with, my amazing colleagues from around the country and world who share these values, goals, and aspirations. Thank you very much for allowing me some space to share my thoughts on this. Please feel free to contact me with any questions if you’d like. Best, Jordan

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!