Meet the Candidates: Rachel M. Minkin

Editor’s Note: In the lead-up to the 2024 ALA/ACRL election, we’re profiling the 2024 ACRL Board of Directors candidates. We’ll feature one candidate in slate order each weekday from March 1-8. 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 11.

Rachel M. Minkin is the interim associate dean for teaching and learning at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI and a 2024 candidate for the ACRL Board of Directors as Director-at-Large.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Kind, accountable, pragmatic.

2. Describe ACRL in three words: My professional base.

3. What do you value about ACRL? I value that ACRL values me!  I began my library career in my 30s and had already established my “work identity” – how I thought of myself and my skills. I had been trying out different professional organizations to find the right fit – I was too much of a generalist for some, not as enthusiastically dedicated for others. ACRL was my “just right” and I found a professional home base, a place where my skills and my time were appreciated and where I could create experiences for colleagues to feel just as appreciated.

4. What would you as candidate for the ACRL Board like to see ACRL accomplish in the area of EDI? I would like the ACRL Board to advocate for more underrepresented folks in academic library management. At conferences, we so often speak of “leading from where you are”, but usually this is in response to the dearth of academic library management positions in any specific region. When those few opportunities DO appear, we see many of the same faces, experiences, backgrounds, contexts ultimately securing those roles. How do we as a professional organization provide a structure (and maybe some pressure?) to diversify who’s in those roles? As part of ACRL Nominations and Policy Audit Taskforce (N-PAT), I saw firsthand how many of us are working in this space. We could bring that energy to a more programmatic push across our home institutions, lowering barriers to supervisory and management positions.

5. In your own words (an open-ended statement or reflection about life as an academic/research librarian): I did not set out to be a librarian, but my education, experiences and personality all made librarianship this weirdly well-suited career. I had a discipline-specific graduate degree, loved learning and hanging out with smart people but could barely get through school. I was an adrenaline junkie, loving the highs and lows of retail management but filled with this existential ennui; my work didn’t matter to anyone, including me. One evening my husband and I were recalling past jobs we’d had and how our time in libraries was so positive. We chatted about Anne Womack, our reference librarian at Vanderbilt Divinity School and how knowledgeable she was about everything – and how happy she was in her work. I wrote to her later that week to ask how one got to be her. Twenty years in, I still think that I’ve made the right call.

6. What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device(s)? I just started reading Tik-Tok by John Sladek. I’m just two chapters in and it’s already violent and funny in turns – and a little too on the nose for something written in 1983.