Ula Gabrielle Gaha is Humanities and Reference Librarian at Mississippi State University in Mississippi State, Mississippi. Ula has been an ACRL member since 2010 and is your ACRL member of the week for October 14, 2013.
1. Describe yourself in three words: Curious, engaged, feminist.
2. What are you reading right now (or listening to on your mobile device)? I’ve almost finished Lit: A Memoir by Mary Karr. Her honesty, wit, and forthright attitude — combined with her unique syntax — set this memoir apart. It simultaneously draws in and pushes away the reader. On my tablet, I keep several collections of Rumi’s poetry, which I turn to daily; his craftsmanship reignites my reverence for language. He quiets my mind and transports me to a state of wonder, which is so easy to lose when you’re staring at a full calendar or a mile-long ‘To Do’ list!
3. Describe ACRL in three words: Relevant, informative, dynamic.
4. What do you value about ACRL? There is a place for everyone to actively engage in diverse research, writing, and teaching interests; the support of a large network of professionals with whom I can connect; its determined advocacy on behalf of academic libraries and our profession; the informative publications that keep me learning continually.
5. What do you, as an academic librarian, contribute to your campus? My interest in a wide range of topics creates genuine, professional relationships as I assist patrons with their research. In an increasingly challenging and competitive environment, maintaining approachability and listening to patrons’ needs encourages them to take advantage of reference services. Being committed to diversity, I also reach out across campus through service opportunities, such as my appointment to the President’s Commission on the Status of Women and work with the Islamic Center of Mississippi.
6. In your own words: Academic librarians have the benefit of researching and publishing in any number of areas in addition to librarianship. Research and writing are creative outlets for me, and my position allows me to continue work in William Faulkner scholarship, gender and women’s studies, African American studies, and even creative writing. There is so much to explore, and this environment is perfect for those who intend to pursue lifelong scholarship in more than one area.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.