Meet the Candidates: Kara Whatley

Editor’s Note: In the lead-up to the 2022 ALA/ACRL election, we’re profiling the 2022 ACRL Board of Directors candidates. We’ll feature one candidate in slate order each weekday from March 2-11. Complete details on candidates for ACRL offices are available on the election website. Make sure to vote for the candidates of your choice starting March 14.

Kara Whatley is the university librarian at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA and a 2022 candidate for the ACRL Board of Directors as Councilor.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Caring, collaborative, driven.

2. Describe ACRL in three words: Community, learning, engagement.

3. What do you value about ACRL? I very much value the professional network that it’s allowed me to build.  I have relied on the colleagues I’ve met through ACRL to guide me in so many situations I’ve encountered over the years!

4. What would you as candidate for the ACRL Board like to see ACRL accomplish in the area of EDI? I think it’s very challenging for folks to think about what we can do to address the systemic issues behind the inequities in our profession.  I would like to see ACRL help librarians set EDI commitments that will address systemic problems and not just the surface symptoms which are easier to focus on but have little lasting impact.

5. In your own words: When I talk to folks personally or professionally about libraries, they often have a very traditional image of a library as “the building with the books” and a librarian as someone who gets to read all day.  I think we need to embrace the best parts of that stereotype and work as hard as we can to educate and redefine the rest, so on my campus I talk a lot about data and preservation of digital information.  As University Librarian a part of my job is to support our staff in creating library services for our campus community, and their needs are constantly evolving.  That constant change means life as an academic librarian is always interesting in the best of ways, and I enjoy the opportunities to learn and grow it brings me. 

6. What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile devices)? I’m currently listening to the second season of a podcast called Cocaine and Rhinestones, which is about the history of twentieth-century country music.  (It’s very interesting, and I recommend checking it out!)  I also have quite a newspaper habit—as anyone who talks to me for even a short length of time can attest!  So on a daily basis I’m reading The Pasadena Star-News, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.  I get the Sunday papers for The Pasadena Star-News and The New York Times, but all the rest are read solely on my iPhone.