Meet the Candidates: Merinda Kaye Hensley

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.

Merinda Kaye Hensley is an associate professor and digital scholarship liaison and instruction librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, IL and a 2022 candidate for the ACRL Board of Directors as Councilor.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Centered, optimistic, curious.

2. Describe ACRL in three words: Collaborator, energizer, evolving.

3. What do you value about ACRL? I value the people of ACRL. ACRL provides a community for each of us to lean on when we are trying something new or trying to solve an issue. From conferences to publications to committee work, there is always someone to reach out to that is willing to share their experience or listen. 

4. What would you as candidate for the ACRL Board like to see ACRL accomplish in the area of EDI? I would like to see the ACRL continue to go beyond asking for feedback and really engage the membership in meaningful conversations about our collective commitment to EDI. I also want to see the Board work to adopt suggestions that arise from those conversations, and not just the easy-to-reach bits but the fulsome and thoughtful strategies so many members have been pushing us towards for way too long now. 

5. In your own words: Our daughter is graduating from university this spring and I have marveled at experiencing higher ed. through her eyes. She has interacted with a wide variety of people and services on her campus in the past four years – with a little encouragement from her mom! What strikes me is how often she (and her friends) used my guidance to navigate and advocate for themselves. This reminds me that our role as librarians extends beyond the library and the classroom — our role in student success is to mentor students, connect them to those that can help, and to foster a sense of belonging. 

6. What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile devices)? Most mornings I listen to Slate’s What Next podcast because I enjoy the quick deep dive into a current topic. I’m reading Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History by Matt Taibbi and next on my list is Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver.