Member of the Week: Jessica Szempruch

Jessica Szempruch is a librarian at the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee in Sarasota, Florida. Jessica has been a member of ACRL since 2017 and is your ACRL member of the week for September 25, 2017.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Empathetic, creative, honest.

2. What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device)? I am currently alternating between reading Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond and I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi.

3. Describe ACRL in three words: Collaborative, instructive, inquisitive.

4. What do you value about ACRL? I highly value the in-depth discussions that take place between our dedicated members. ACRL members come from a variety of personal/professional backgrounds and bring their unique experiences to the table, all in the service of our students and institutions. It’s refreshing to watch and take part in professional conversations regarding essential, difficult topics which still managing to be collegial and informative.

5. What do you, as an academic librarian, contribute to your campus? As a member of a two-librarian team (working alongside my fearless director, Diane Fulkerson), my work is ever-changing to fit the needs of our campus community. To that end, my biggest contributions use collaboration, communication, and creativity to solve problems and create solutions. One core job I do daily is to provide one-on-one research, reference, and citation assistance to students, faculty, and staff across all majors and disciplines. I have the pleasure of planning events, displays, and outreach activities for our department, which often involve working closely with our university’s Student Engagement team and other campus stakeholders. I provide in-class instruction sessions throughout the semester to undergraduate and graduate level classes. I also staff our Information Commons Resource Desk as needed to offer technical support and process equipment loans. Outside of library work, I contribute to our campus through volunteering for many campus and university-wide committees, and supporting our students in their co-curricular activities.

6. In your own words: Since my first visit to the library as a child, I have always wanted to be a librarian. Along the way, I have been fortunate to receive mentoring from many career librarians who saw my passion and encouraged me to achieve my goals. My love for our profession only deepens as I continue to work and grow alongside other bright minds in our field. I give special credit to my incredible 2017 Emerging Leaders team (Team F, working for LearnRT), and my dedicated colleagues in the Florida Library Association (FLA).

Overall, I strive to provide individualized attention to the needs of all of my patrons and advocate for them with equal passion. As a new academic librarian, I have discovered my excitement for using my information skills to enhance student engagement and retention efforts, especially in working with first-year and undergraduate students. I feel strongly that my work as an academic librarian requires much more than just skill at finding resources; in order to provide the best services, it is essential to fully engage with the campus community to better know their needs and gain their trust.

Editor’s Note: Are you an ACRL member? Would you like to be featured as ACRL Member of the Week? Nominate a colleague? Contact Mary Jane Petrowski at for more information.