Meet the Candidates: Leo S. Lo

Editor’s Note: In the lead-up to the 2023 ALA/ACRL election, we’re profiling the 2023 ACRL Board of Directors candidates. We’ll feature one candidate in slate order each weekday from March 3-10. 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 13.

Leo S. Lo is the dean of the college of university libraries and learning sciences at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and a 2023 candidate for the ACRL Board of Directors as Vice-President/President-Elect.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Curious, purposeful, adaptable.

2. Describe ACRL in three words: Growth, leadership, friendship.

3. What do you value about ACRL? I joined ACRL when I was a library school student, and have been active in the association ever since. I have served on many ACRL committees and attended many wonderful ACRL conferences (always my favorite library conference!). And in the process, I have met so many friends and have learned so much from them. It’s no exaggeration to say that ACRL has played a critical role in my career, igniting my passion for learning and growth, and providing so many opportunities for me to do so. I value the sense of learning and growth opportunities, leadership, and friendship that ACRL provides, and truly appreciate the role the organization has played in my personal and professional journey.

4. What would you as candidate for the ACRL Board like to see ACRL accomplish in the area of EDI? I believe that ACRL has the potential to be a transformative force in promoting EDI in the field of academic librarianship. One of the strategic priorities for my own library is to apply a JEADI (Justice, Equity, Accessibility, Diversity, Inclusion) lens to everything we do, which I would like to see be part of ACRL’s way of operating. This is an approach that builds on what ACRL is already doing, but expands the mindset even further to instill this perspective into the basis of all of the association’s strategies and operations. In order to achieve this goal, we would need to provide guidance for ACRL leaders at all levels, and develop an assessment to measure our progress. I also understand that this is also a learning process for all of us. There will be mistakes, but there will also be lessons learned, to help us become better. This is what I want to see ACRL accomplish: try, learn, and grow.

5. In your own words: As the dean of my library, I developed an organization mantra to believe in our impact, measure our progress, and tell our stories. This mantra was designed to help us think about the kind of impact we make, no matter what function we perform in the library. It gives me the most joy and a sense of accomplishment to know that I’m leading an organization that helps students succeed in college and beyond, helps researchers advance knowledge to make the world a better place, and gives our community a place to meet, connect, and grow together. I firmly believe that the work we do in academic libraries has the power to transform lives and make a positive impact on the world.

My library’s mantra of “believe in our impact, measure our progress, and tell our stories” is more than a slogan; it’s a call to action that I’d like to extend to ACRL. By always trying to figure out and measure the effects of what we do, we can be sure to make the most of every chance to make a difference. And by sharing our stories and experiences, we can inspire others to join us in this important work and help spread the word about the critical role that academic libraries play in our communities.

6. What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile devices)? I am listening to “Competing in the Age of AI: Strategy and Leadership When Algorithms and Networks Run the World” by Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani, two Harvard Business School professors.