Meet the Candidates: Lynn Silipigni Connaway

Lynn Connaway

Editor’s Note: In the lead-up to the 2020 ALA/ACRL election, we’re profiling the 2020 ACRL Board of Directors candidates. We’ll feature one candidate in slate order each weekday from February 28 – March 6. 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 9.

Lynn Silipigni Connaway is the director of library trends and user research at OCLC Research in Dublin, Ohio, and a 2020 candidate for the ACRL Board of Directors as Vice-President/President-Elect.

Lynn Connaway

1. Describe yourself in three words: Energetic, enthusiastic, innovative.

2. Describe ACRL in three words: Visionary/future-focused, community/networking, advocacy.

3. What do you value about ACRL? I value the relationships I have developed and the opportunities I have had to work with my colleagues in academic libraries to address issues of importance to the academic community. ACRL also provides a platform for us to discuss the challenges facing higher education and academic libraries and to learn from others and to explore new and innovative ways to address these challenges.

4. What would you as candidate for the ACRL Board like to see ACRL accomplish in the area of EDI? A sustainable culture for diversity in ACRL is heavily dependent on leadership, leadership’s commitment, and the way that leaders convey their commitment across ACRL, its staff, and its committee and task force structure. I believe we must first look within ourselves and recognize our personal biases and stereotypes before we will be able to shape others’ actions and beliefs on equity, diversity, and inclusion. I also think it would be a worthwhile investment for ACRL leaders to gather prior to meetings for training or educational activities that reaffirm a commitment to equity and inclusion as practiced in committee work and decisions. I would like to lessen the pressure on expertise as a qualification to serve in different capacities within ACRL. We need to give similar attention to interest, willingness to learn and to serve as inclusion practices, not through a special program but as an expectation throughout all of our sections, committees, etc. It is incumbent upon our leaders to make sure that critical, high profiled activities such as conference planning groups have strength in diversity, drawing librarians from minority-serving institutions, different types of academic libraries and geographical and socioeconomic regions, and representing different races, genders, gender identities and physical capabilities.

5. In your own words: Higher education is being challenged on multiple fronts and is being called upon to provide evidence of its contributions to society. This environment is changing the role of the academic librarian within the institution and the local community. In order to provide this evidence, academic institutions must collect data on how programs are contributing to individuals’ roles within society and how well prepared these individuals are to become critical consumers of information for lifelong decision making. Identifying the value of education on individuals’ lifelong experiences is not an easy undertaking, yet academic librarians are being called upon within the academic institution to measure and articulate higher education’s value to society. The demographics of college students are changing and diverse and students are homeless, single parents, hungry, suffering from mental illness, and financial burdens while trying to maintain an academic program. Academic librarians are partnering with other campus departments and local agencies to help students navigate the academic environment by providing information on the campus food pantry, finding affordable housing, clothing, transportation, child care, financial aid, long-term technology loans, and how to meet with the social workers on campus. ACRL is positioned to provide guidance and leadership for academic librarians’ transition into these new roles.

6. What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device(s)? I am reading Life by Keith Richards on my mobile device and Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones in print.