Meet Derrick Jefferson: An RT Member Profile

By Tess Goldwasser

What is your role in the GLBTRT?

I joined GLBTRT when I first joined ALA my first semester of library school. If anything I suppose I could describe myself as a conscientious lurker. I pay attention to the listserv to stay current, but I’ve also met some great friends and colleagues as a member. I love knowing I’ll see some familiar faces from the round table at Midwinter and Annual.

What does the GLBTRT mean to you?

To me, the GLBTRT is about community. It’s comfortable; familiar. There are issues that come up in the round table that mirror my work in the office and in my life. Things have changed a lot since I came out years ago in terms of legislation, marriage equity, just our own visibility as people and brothers, and sisters and parents and next door neighbors. There’s still so much to fight for, but as a wee baby homosexual did I ever think I’d see laws that permitted same-sex marriage? Not at all.

Are you involved in ALA in other ways?

I am! Very much so. I’m a 2015 Emerging Leader, I’m the incoming chair for LLAMA’s New Professional Section, and I look forward to doing some work that focuses on diversity and inclusion efforts with ALA and perhaps ACRL. I was really lucky to get engaged in ALA as a student and it’s really set the tone for my involvement. I very much look forward to working my way up the food chain, as well as becoming more involved with GLBTRT.

What professional work do you perform?

I am the communication librarian at American University in Washington, DC. I work with all kinds of students studying strategic communication, journalism, film and video, and social media, among other aspects of the communication field.

What would you like to tell us about your personal life?

I probably work too much! I really need to find some way to balance my work and research with a more sustained jovial and lighthearted side. I think I’m ready to settle down and find a sweet guy to build a life with as well. And I make jaw-droppingly awesome buttermilk pancakes. Seriously.

What are you most proud of?

If you told me five years ago that I’d be a librarian now, I’d be shocked. Yet, in the years since, I’m so proud of being part of this profession. I love working with new and veteran colleagues alike. I like being an advocate for the libraries as well as the profession. Most times, I’m one of the first people in the office. It’s as if I can’t wait to get to work in the morning. It’s really been a rewarding turn of events that couldn’t have come at a better time in my life.

Who inspires you?

People who don’t take no for an answer. If it weren’t for people like my parents who, during the Civil Rights Era, took a stand and said, “No, we’re not going to take this laying down. We’re not going to take your brutality.” there’s no way I’d be where I am today. Similarly, people who fight for social justice, equality, and for others simply without judgment or fear, in pursuit of what’s right, simply because we are all human, are golden.

What is your favorite holiday and how do you celebrate?

Since I’ve moved east, where the winters are real, cold, and harsh, I have to say that I love Easter. I always loved it as a kid because my birthday sometimes falls on Easter Sunday, but there’s something restorative about spring – watching daffodils grow up through the snow, the trees coming back to life after these dark, short dismal days – that makes me grateful. And there aren’t many things that don’t benefit from a great brunch with a table full of friends and loved ones. Brunch makes the world go ’round.

What do you have to say about the future of libraries?

Libraries and librarians continue to change. When I finished my MLIS degree, my father said he wasn’t surprised that I became a librarian because I always liked to read. Little did he know that what I do professionally doesn’t really mirror his impression of what a librarian is. With that, I truly admire how flexible and agile we are when it comes to making sure we’re meeting the needs of our patrons. And also how we collectively work together. I’m on the reference desk a lot, but I couldn’t be if it weren’t for our catalogers and e-resources colleagues, etc. As our world continues to be more and more data driven, I think we’re going to see a lot of opportunities for people with library degrees and backgrounds outside of traditional libraries.

Where would you like to see the GLBTRT go in the future?

I would actually like to be part of the GLBTRT’s future. Having great engagement and leadership is awesome, and members are so accessible and down to the earth. I’m only three years out of library school but so many GLBTRT folks took me under their wing, and helped me sort out ALA as an organization. Reaching out to new librarians, as well as being open and inclusive to members and allies, as well as keeping our collective eyes on issues that affect our community and profession, is key.


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