Meet the Candidates: Lori Ostapowicz Critz

Editor’s Note: In the lead-up to the 2015 ALA/ ACRL election, we’re profiling the 2015 ACRL Board of Directors candidates. We’ll feature one candidate in slate order each weekday from March 13 — 20. 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 24.

Lori Ostapowicz CritzLori Ostapowicz Critz is Head of the Faculty Engagement Department at the Georgia Institute of Technology Library in Atlanta, Georgia, and is a 2015 candidate for the ACRL Board of Directors as Director-at-Large.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Passionate, Committed, Energetic.

2. What are you reading right now (or listening to on your mobile device)? As this semester’s (teaching) faculty book club offering, I’m re-reading The Power of Mindful Learning by Ellen J. Langer. The 1997 book is a thought-provoking extension of Langer’s interpretation of mindfulness, with a bend to teaching and learning applications, and it is precipitating some wonderful, reflective discussions about instruction and our students.

I’m also re-visiting Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries — and am finding them just as fun the second time around!

3. Describe ACRL in three words: Strategic, Responsive, Progressive.

4. Why do you value about ACRL? ACRL has always been the welcoming beacon within a very large, and sometimes daunting, organization. For me, the value of ACRL is three-pronged:  ACRL is unfailingly the trusted source for current, critical information of interest to academic libraries and librarians; ACRL provides extraordinary professional development opportunities for academic librarians across the spectrum; and ACRL is an approachable organization where every academic librarian can find a “home”.

5. What do you, as an academic librarian, contribute to your campus? The job descriptions and assignments of academic librarians are as varied as the campuses we serve. Regardless of the job title, however, all academic librarians are well poised to make significant, value-added contributions to their institutions. My examples give some insight into several opportunities for campus integration and contribution, from the perspective of a public services academic librarian.

Over the past eighteen months my most notable and far-reaching contributions to the campus have revolved around two strategic activities: the Library Renewal project and the SACS reaffirmation of accreditation process. For the Renewal – a complete renovation of both the facilities and our provision of services – I serve as part of a three-man Steering Group working with faculty shepherds, myriad campus stakeholders, strategic consultants, and a large (architectural) Design Team to help ensure that the renewed library will be an outstanding and innovative 21st Century library poised to serve as an intellectual crossroads for our research-intensive, student-centered university. For reaffirmation, I wrote one of the Comprehensive Standards (3.8.2) on library services and resources, and am working closely with the faculty team developing the new QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan) for Georgia Tech.  Written as part of the documentation for this campus-wide plan, I authored the 17+ page comprehensive literature review.

As a Faculty Engagement librarian, a primary component of my position centers on faculty, graduate student, and postdoc engagement. In this role I explore new models of service to these campus constituents.  For example, I serve as campus coordinator (and co-developer) for the Graduate Communication Certificate Program. This Program is a multi-unit partnership designed to provide a structured series of communications-related workshops and Capstone Experiences for graduate students looking to hone their professional communication skills. It was developed at the request of our graduate student government, and has been well-received by the students as a non-departmental opportunity for addressing these critical skills.

As a liaison and subject specialist, I support the students and faculty in my assigned areas, and make sustained contributions to our campus through appropriate selection of resources, customized research assistance, and targeted instruction across a wide spectrum of topics and subject areas.  Increasingly, this work is affording me the opportunity to deeply embed in the schools and departments I serve, and provide value-added assistance at the point-of-need. My partnership with Biomedical Engineering (BME) has been particularly fruitful, as I work with every BME undergraduate – as they first begin their major-specific courses – to develop the information literacy competency needed to succeed in this research-intensive major.

6. In your own words: I’m approaching my 15 year anniversary in librarianship and I note (almost daily!) the constant state of flux in academic libraries, and for academic librarians. We see enormous changes in technology, and its integration into our daily lives.  We see the proliferation of information available, and the accompanying challenges in providing access to this expanding universe of sometimes free, but often for fee, information. We see the shifts in user needs and expectations and seek to provide relevant spaces, services and resources to meet these needs. And, increasingly, we see the need to demonstrate our value to our institutions — in an environment where funding is always an issue and where outcomes, and not outputs, are key indicators of that value.

While change is inevitable, and often precipitates new and exciting opportunities, I believe the core values of librarianship remain in place – and remain as relevant as ever. And, although we may see the need to update the terminology in the 5 Laws, Ranganathan’s principles still apply, and still guide our daily work! I am delighted and humbled to witness the ever-expanding accomplishments of academic librarians in this time of perpetual change.  We are increasing our repertoire of services and skills, and embracing new opportunities to partner in research, to embed in the teaching and learning cycle, and to foster new collaborative efforts and adventures. It’s an exciting time to be an academic librarian, and I’m looking forward to the next 15 years!