Meet the Candidates: Rodney Lippard

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.

Rodney Lippard is the director of Torreyson Library at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, AR and a 2024 candidate for the ACRL Board of Directors as Director-at-Large.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Inclusive, gregarious, creative.

2. Describe ACRL in three words: Community, leadership, advocacy.

3. What do you value about ACRL? What I value about ACRL is summed up in the three words that I chose to describe ACRL – Community, Leadership, and Advocacy. The community we have as academic librarians is strengthened through ACRL. Whether it is in person at national or state conferences, or online through discussion and interest groups, we know that there is a community to support and uplift us, and ACRL provides that structure. ACRL provides leadership to help academic libraries navigate the future, but it also provides leadership opportunities for its members. ACRL, through its member leaders, helps its librarians and libraries be leaders on our campuses and communities by keeping abreast of what is happening in higher education and how we can position ourselves to address these issues and take advantage of the opportunities. At the same time, it offers its members opportunities to become member leaders through serving on executive boards at every level. The tools that ACRL provides us to advocate for ourselves on our campuses, as well as the advocacy it provides, is another thing that I value about ACRL. Initiatives like Project Outcome help us to prove our value to the larger institution and its mission.

4. What would you as candidate for the ACRL Board like to see ACRL accomplish in the area of EDI? I believe we, as a profession and as library professionals, have been focused on EDI, and I would add B for belonging, for some time now. I believe we have made great strides, but clearly there is more to do. I do not have the solutions for what more we can do to get where we need to be. Therefore, I believe it is important for us to listen to those in underrepresented, not represented, and marginalized communities to find what is needed. However, what I do believe that ACRL could accomplish currently is to provide support for our members in the field who are doing the EDI work but being attacked for it, particularly those in public institutions. It seems every day another state legislature is attacking higher education’s work around diversity. I would venture that for the majority of our members in public institutions, this is demoralizing. Davis-Kendrick has been studying librarian’s morale since before the COVID-19 pandemic; low morale was exacerbated by the pandemic and now these political attacks are taking a toll. What ACRL could accomplish now is to offer support and assistance in responding to this; perhaps by collaborating with other academic professional associations.

5. In your own words (an open-ended statement or reflection about life as an academic/research librarian): Being an academic/research librarian is both challenging and thrilling, but most of all, it is satisfying. Believing in the transformative power of higher education and knowing that you and your department have an integral part in student success is gratifying. At the same time, there are challenges like budget constraints, the aforementioned political atmosphere, and now, the integration of generative AI. The trick is to look at these challenges as opportunities, and for me, that means working with our team to recognize the opportunities and how we can respond to them.

6. What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device(s)? I am in the process of completing my dissertation, so the majority of reading I do is research to support my study. However, as far as leisure listening, I have found “Elaine Paige on Sunday” from Radio 2 on the BBC Sounds app. She plays songs from musicals and musical theater while telling anecdotes in between, and her laugh is infectious. The most recent book I listened to was Who Killed Truth?: A History of Evidence by Jill Lepore. Lepore is an American historian and professor at Harvard, who made her audiobook version of her title in the form of a 1930’s radio show. I found the audiobook to be both informative and entertaining.