ACRL Member of the Week: Maria R Barefoot

A photo of Maria R Barefoot, a woman with dark hair and glasses. She is standing next to her daughter while they iron clothes.

Maria R Barefoot is an online learning librarian at the University of Delaware in Newark. Maria has been a member of ACRL for 8 years and is your ACRL Member of the Week for June 20, 2022.

Describe yourself in three words: Driven, analytical, rational.

What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device)? I’m listening to The Almost Nearly Perfect People audio book. My family will be taking a trip to Denmark this summer and a friend recommended this book as an good introduction to Danish culture.

Describe ACRL in three words: Connect, inspire, support.

What do you value about ACRL? Without ACRL, I never would have had the courage to try and publish Once Upon a Time in the Academic Library, or any book for that matter. I attended an information session about publishing with ACRL at the 2019 conference in Cleveland, OH which helped me understand the process before submitting a proposal. I emailed so many questions to Erin at ACRL books throughout the process, and she answered every one with kindness and without condescension.

What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? I like to think that librarians fill the cracks in the system that struggling students tend to fall through. Much of my career has been spent in student and faculty support roles. So we get to see students when they don’t understand the requirements for a research assignment, or when they have an idea but don’t know how to shape it for academic research. We get to usher them through that part of academic life without making them feel stupid or alone. Those moments are when we make a difference, even if we never see the outcome of that work.

In your own words: Experiencing a layoff from my previous institution in 2020 has changed the way I view our profession. I, like many others, entered this career with a passion for information sharing as a public good. Layoffs, along with budget cuts, stagnant salaries, and chronically unfilled positions make that work feel undervalued in a very profound way. I think the challenge we face as mid-career librarians is keeping the motivation that drew us to this work. There has been a lot of discussion at conferences and in the academic library literature about sustainable work, slow librarianship, and the tolls of vocational awe. I’m trying to employ some of the strategies I’ve learned from these colleagues in the second half of my career to keep my work fulfilling and passionate. I’m also hopeful that changes like remote work and flexible scheduling that allow for more work-life balance will become more common in our profession in the future.

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!