Let’s shine the Member Spotlight on Shannon Simpson from Kenyon College Libraries!
What is/are your role(s) in academic libraries?
My job title is Scholarly Instruction Librarian, but I think of my role, as a BIPOC Librarian in the Academic Librarian field, as one of constant education and learning and creating. Whether that be with fellow librarians working to learn and incorporate critical pedagogy and librarianship into our everyday work, or working with students and faculty to develop and engage a deeper understanding of the world of information and how that insight is essential to using and working and creating new information responsibly.
What do you like most about academic library work?
I adore working with college students. I am a creative person that relishes the challenge of taking difficult information literacy concepts, figuring out where and how they should be approached from a more critical and social justice standpoint, and then creating interactive classroom experiences that engage learners in ways that are new and a bit different than what they are expecting or have experienced. While great classroom experiences require quite a lot of planning, when it goes well, it feels like magic. I’m here for that.
What are some interesting projects you’ve been involved with lately?
I am so over the moon to be working with an amazing team of enthusiastic librarians in the coming year on a CODEX funded project: Reframing the ACRL Framework: A Roadmap for Equitable Information Literacy Instruction. We’re working from a shared desire to create learning objects based on the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in order to provide students with a deeper understanding of inequity and racism through the lens of media and information literacy. This project has given a group of librarians from Denison, Wooster, Oberlin, Ohio Wesleyan (and Kenyon) the opportunity to start with a reflective process on teaching, social justice, and anti-racism, in order to move toward the development and implementation of unique learning tools that are long overdue in our field. I am so excited to see where we go with this!
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I have a running list of fictional band names and album titles that I randomly come up with. For instance, I am just waiting for a rap/metal act named Kombucha to come on the scene after dropping their single, “Trace Amounts” from their debut album, “The Mother.” There’s no doubt it will be a banger.
What do you love about being an ALAO member? (Or if you’re a newer member, you might prefer to answer Why did you join ALAO?)
I am a newer member, but I spent years in a couple of Maryland-wide groups. I’ve found that being able to learn and grow and collaborate with librarians across different campuses is always inspiring. I feel so lucky to work with a truly dynamic group of librarians at Kenyon, but it’s just as wonderful to hear from and learn and grow with the myriad talented librarians across Ohio.
On a more serious note, however, I think librarians are at a precipice. We need to decide whether or not we want to do the hard work of rooting out and tearing down library systems of oppression in order to build new structures that support all information seekers. It’s in no way easy work, but if ALAO is up to that challenge it will have lasting impacts for generations. I have hope that we can transform ourselves and our libraries from information gatekeepers into information gateways.
—Maureen Barry, Membership Chair, Bowling Green State University