ACRL Member of the Week: Sarah Huber

Sarah Huber is an Associate Professor of Library Science at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. Sarah has been a member of the ACRL for 4 years and is your ACRL Member of the Week for December 18, 2023.

Describe yourself in three words: Curious, open-minded, collaborative.

What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device)? Temple Grandin’s Visual Thinking: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns, and Abstractions, Rebecca Zuege Kuglitsch and Alexander C. Watkin’s Creators in the Academic Library: Collections and Spaces; and I am anxiously awaiting my university library to acquire, Catherine M. Copper’s The Experimental Library: A Guide to Taking Risks, Failing Forward, and Creating Change.

Describe ACRL in three words: Current, supportive, leading.

What do you value about ACRL? The list goes on and on. I look to ACRL’s publications for up-to-date information in the field. I rely on the ACRL Members Digest emails to stay current on webinars, publications, and communications between the ALA Connect Groups, among many other opportunities and resources.

One of my instruction and research focuses is visual literacy. I regularly reference and rely on the ACRL Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education to inform my work. I am active with the ALA Connect Group, Image Resource Interest Group, serving as the previous Convener. From our annual meetings, I have learned what visual literacy resources colleagues are providing through their libraries. This has influenced what I provide for students and faculty. The group has been a way for me to build community around visual literacy as well.

Finally, I regularly read LibTech insight to learn practical applications of technology in the classroom and library.

What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? I am an associate professor of library science at Purdue University. Where I feel I contribute the most is through the running of our Libraries’ makerspace. I am consistently surprised and heartened by the number of students who make the effort to personally thank us for the space and its resources. The two ideas that drive the space are “experiential knowledge” (taken from “Remaking the Library Makerspace: Critical Theories, Reflections, and Practices”) and the exploration of libraries, not only supporting access to information and knowledge, but also supporting students creating new information and knowledge that contributes to the academic information landscape. Students can simply use the space to test materials and equipment to get familiar with possibilities, but we encourage them to think about using the space to experiment with different ways to convey information. For example, instead of an essay, could a podcast episode be an effective way to present their work (always stressing the importance of meeting assignment requirements, of course). Because the space is relatively new, I am still investigating ways to measure how this approach supports their learning and creative processes, as well as the effectiveness of the information they are trying to convey. No matter how the approach may be tweaked or changed, though, it is about being inclusive. It speaks to inclusivity in that it values the different ways in which people acquire, process, and apply information. It is inclusive of the variety of ways information and knowledge can be conveyed effectively. To be clear, though, the variety of ways include, just are not limited to, traditional forms of scholarship and information structures in academia. The space has a focus on engineering design thinking principles but has a variety of opportunities to explore that through craft and art lenses. This includes using Cricuts, sewing machines, knitting tools, a Riso printer, vinyl cutter, podcast booth, among other resources. We have much work to do to develop the space, but so far, the creative, original work that students are producing speaks to the power of libraries offering this type of information and knowledge creation resource on a campus.

In your own words: There are many opportunities to effect change in libraries. I never could have imagined I would get to take part in such creative endeavors, but here I am, side by side with students, watching them sew gloves with sensors to control drones. I think what inspires me the most is that we have become aware of the fact that we are not a neutral space, that academic libraries have great influence. With this in mind, we are building services, resources, and credit courses that facilitate an information landscape that consists of diverse experiences, perspectives, voices, and information mediums. I intend to continue to explore analog, material, and technical resources that support this effort.

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