Resident of the Month: Karina Hagelin

Headshot of Karina Hagelin

Karina Hagelin is currently an Assistant Archivist at the Cornell University Library. They began their fellowship during August 2018 and their fellowship concludes in 2020.

Tell me a little bit about your background. Where did you attend college? What degrees do you have? What programs (undergraduate or graduate) prepared you for your current position? Tell me about your position and what you do?

I attended college at University of Maryland, where I earned my B.A. in American Studies, a certificate in LGBT Studies, and my Masters of Library and Information Science. As an undergraduate, I managed the LGBT Equity Center’s Resource Library. I was passionate about my work and loved connecting students, staff, and faculty members with the resources they needed to thrive. My four years there inspired me to apply to University of Maryland’s MLIS program.
As a graduate student, I digitized special collections and created metadata for digital collections, in addition to organizing the 2016 and 2017 Conference on Inclusion and Diversity in Library and Information Science. I was an organizer the Radical Libraries, Archives, and Museums track at Allied Media Conference, served as president of iDiversity for two years, and held various other leadership positions, such as serving on the University System of Maryland Student Council Executive Board and as the iSchool Assembly representative for the MLIS program. I wrote my masters thesis on “Gossip as a Site of Resistance: Information Sharing Strategies Among Survivors of Sexual Violence”.

In addition to all the library work I did during my academic career, I also have a long history as an activist and organizer, which helped me learn how to connect with people and build authentic relationships.
In my current position, I am working on creating metadata to describe photographs from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Collection, processing a collection for the Human Sexuality Collection, and participating in diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DIB) advocacy work. I serve on several task forces and committees dedicated to this vital work! We recognized both National Coming Out Day and the first ever International Pronouns Day here at Rare and Manuscripts Collection last tear. International Pronouns Day was an especially big success; not only do we regularly have to order more buttons but researchers from other universities wanted to take the idea of pronoun pins back to their home institutions.

What caught your interest about the residency that you were a part of?

Cornell University Library’s residency was “designed for recent graduates who want the opportunity to learn about academic libraries and acquire core competencies and skills in research, scholarship, and instruction” – which seemed like an ideal fit. The collections at Cornell really excited me; Cornell University Library is home to the world-renowned Human Sexuality Collection, which I now get to work with! However, what really made me want this residency, after my on-site interview, was that the search committee clearly valued my experiences – and expertise – as a survivor of sexual violence and as a disabled, queer femme.

Before you became a resident, what were you thinking about doing professionally or academically?

I was excited about academic librarianship and archival work but didn’t know what the best fit would be for me. That’s part of what I love about my residency: I get to explore several areas and figure out what works – and what doesn’t – for me.

How was the residency or job application process for you?

The application process is stressful for anyone, but as a chronically ill and disabled person, the all-day, on-site interviews were especially difficult in terms of managing my illness. Over the summer, I was flying out to different universities about two times a week. It was exhausting and I ended up getting sicker. This reminded me of the importance of self-care AND community care.

Do you have any comments or advice for current residents?

As a chronically ill, disabled, queer femme, there have always been people telling me I don’t belong. Imposter syndrome is real – and it’s a beast! One thing that’s helped me combat it is to form relationships with colleagues who see and value my particular experiences and the expertise I can bring to the table on those issues. I also have to remember my productivity does not define my worth. Staying involved in the community – and having friendships and hobbies outside of work – has helped me with this. I have two precious kittens who keep me grounded and give me something to look forward to when I come home.

How are you becoming or staying involved with the wider profession?

Since starting a new career and chemotherapy, it’s been difficult to stay involved in the wider profession. However, I have submitted a few pieces of my writing to recent call for proposals for publication and I will be attending ACRL 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. Balancing chronic illness and work can be challenging; it’s important to know your limits and protect your boundaries and health fiercely!

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