Preethi Gorecki was the Library Faculty Diversity Fellow (Business Liaison Librarian) from August 2018-July 2019 for the Grand Valley State University Libraries. She is currently the Student Engagement Librarian for the Florida State University Libraries.
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 Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. I subsequently attended the University of Western Ontario, also in Canada, where I earned my Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree. While completing my MLIS, I worked at the University of Waterloo Library as a project coordinator. Afterwards, I became one of the first residents to begin a library diversity fellowship at Grand Valley State University. My experience at University of Waterloo and Grand Valley State University led to my successful employment at Florida State University as the Student Engagement Librarian. Most of my duties involve working directly with students in order to produce library programming geared toward enhancing student success. My unit is responsible for putting together stress-buster activities in the library, conducting user needs assessments, and running the free late-night library tutoring program.
What caught your interest about the residency that you were a part of?
I had consulted for GVSU before applying for the residency. I had been contracted to conduct a half-day staff training on project management practices for academic libraries. During the time I spent at GVSU, I was amazed by how happy the students seemed. It also impressed me to see how dedicated everyone was to enhancing student success, which is a huge passion of mine. Applying for a residency there was one of the easiest decisions I have ever made.
Before you became a resident, what were you thinking about doing professionally or academically?
I initially wanted to be a law or health sciences librarian or a public library administrator. Academic librarianship was actually my third choice, but as it turned out: the correct choice for me. I love working with students and creating high-impact programming to further engage students.
How was the residency or job application process for you?
I remember being super nervous. I felt like my professional success depended on whether my application was successful or not. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make it perfect, to the point where I actually almost missed the deadline, and submitted it right at 11:59pm the day it was due. The interview process was not as bad as I thought. I felt really welcomed and well-supported throughout, which turned out to be exactly how I felt throughout my residency at GVSU.
Do you have any comments or advice for current residents?
Do your research and ask lots of questions throughout your interview process before accepting a residency placement. Every institution runs their residency program differently, and every institution has a different political climate and demography. Make sure that you will be able to find community where you are going and make sure that the institution has done their due diligence ahead of your arrival. Some institutions will expect you to help them structure the residency program after you get there, which puts undue pressure on you. Especially as a contract employee of color in a primarily white-serving institution, it can feel like an uphill battle trying to create real change, and that should not be your job anyway. You are there to learn, not to teach.
How are you becoming or staying in involved with the wider profession?
I am doing a lot of research on diversity, inclusion, and wellness in librarianship, one piece of which, involves creating spaces for librarians of color to express their concerns and experiences and be heard. I hope to continue this work as I continue my career in academic librarianship, but I have not decided the exact shape this work will take yet.