ACRL Member of the Week: Melanie Griffin

Melanie Griffin is the director of special collections services and interim associate dean for special collections at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Melanie has been a member of ACRL for 14 years and is your ACRL Member of the Week for January 17, 2023.

Describe yourself in three words: Dedicated, goal-oriented, kind.

What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device)? At work, I’m reading Lynne Thomas’s new article, “Special Collections on a Shoestring: A Survey of Non-ARL Libraries Servicing Rare Book Collections.” As a special collections librarian who has spent the entirety of my post-MLIS career at a non-ARL library, I was excited to see the conversation around special collections librarianship begin to broaden in scope. Outside of work, I’m an enormous speculative fiction fan and have just finished Tamsyn Muir’s new novel, Nona the Ninth. Now I’m impatiently waiting for the final book in the series.

Describe ACRL in three words: Connection, collaboration, conversation.

What do you value about ACRL? Without a doubt, the thing I value most about ACRL is the professional community I’ve found. I’ve worked in smaller special collections departments in academic libraries throughout my career, so I’ve frequently found myself without a local community of practice for my specific job responsibilities. ACRL, especially the Rare Books and Manuscripts and Literatures in English sections, has given me a place to build that community.

What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? I facilitate connections: between students, faculty, staff, and community members and the collections my department stewards; between staff members; between departments; and between campus and community stakeholders and the Libraries.

In your own words: I cannot begin to articulate how much I love what I do and how lucky I feel that I’m able to find meaning and value in my professional life. That said, since March of 2020 I’ve been reflecting on Fobazi Ettarh’s conceptualization of vocational awe and reminding myself that academic librarianship is a job, not a calling or my identity. Acknowledging this and changing my internal approach to work is a work in progress for me, but it’s something I work on every day.


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