Member of the Week: Karen E. Downing

Karen DowningKaren E. Downing is University Learning Communities Liaison/ Foundation and Grants Librarian at the University of Michigan’s Hatcher Graduate Library in Ann Arbor. Karen was recently elected to serve on ALA Council, has been an ACRL member since 1988 and is your ACRL member of the week.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Intellectually curious and collaborative.

2. What are you reading right now (or listening to on your iPod)? Reading: just finished The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I listen to everything on my iPod from Nina Simone, Bebel Gilberto, and Sade to Janelle Monae, Shakira, Beyonce, Madonna, and Lady Gaga! I like the divas!

3. Describe ACRL in three words: Stimulating, collaborative, home.

4. Why did you join ACRL? To gain a broader understanding of the trends and issues academic libraries face and to affect positive change in higher education.

5. What do you value about academic or research librarianship? The incredible opportunities to learn new things and engage in the development and distribution of new knowledge.

6. In your own words: I sometimes can’t believe how varied and full of wonderment my career has been thus far! I started in my 20s, and now I am in my 40s–20 years of service and continual learning where I have met people like Alex Haley, Barak Obama, Lani Guinier; worked with people like Carla Stoffle, Camila Alire, Pat Schuman and Barbara MacAdam; collaborated with university presidents and provosts, joined research teams investigating everything from strategies to encourage at-risk K-12 students to consider college to easing the effects of Alzheimer’s; traveled the world to gain different perspectives from our international library colleagues, and have seen unbelievable change in the profession over these years.  What could be better than this?!

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.