Emerging Leader Profile: Jessica Thorlakson

The GLBTRT is proud to highlight some of our current Emerging Leaders (ELs). Including people who are members of and/or sponsored by our round table, these spotlights will let you get to know some of the incredible people in our field and learn about the work that they’ve accomplished through the EL Program. Donate today to the GLBTRT’s Emerging Leader fund and continue supporting amazing new librarians!

Name, Organization:

Jessica Thorlakson, University of Alberta

Emerging Leader project:

We’re working on the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Round Table Archive. In particular, we are creating a digital archive of oral histories around GLBTRT. We are hoping to record a few oral histories, but also create a toolkit so people can continue to contribute and build up the digital archive after our project. I am exciting to see how the digital archive can evolve over time, and think it’s a great way to share important stories about the GLBTRT.


Q: What’s your favorite part of being a librarian? (And/or, what is your favorite library memory?)

Nearly every day I learn little bits about a plethora of scientific research work. I have a humanities background and while growing up I loved science, in University I convinced myself it wasn’t for me. Now as a librarian in a Science and Technology library, I am delighted to help students research topics such as thermal processing techniques for pickles, whole genome sequencing of Lactobacillus fermentum, the use of acorus calamus to filter heavy metals in soil, and so much more. While I can’t claim to really know much about these things, I enjoy the opportunity to learn about them and help researchers.

Q: What inspired you to apply for the Emerging Leader program?

ALA is such a large, impressive organization and I wanted to know more about it in a tangible way. I wanted an opportunity to meet more like minded  professionals in a similar stage in their careers.

Q: What advice would you share with new librarians and library students about getting involved in ALA and other professional organizations?

Figure out what interests or is important to you and seek the ALA groups who represent those things.

Q: How do you anticipate the Emerging Leaders program will impact your career and/or professional involvement?

It’s building my confidence around getting involved in the ALA, in general. I have a better sense of how it works and can see how I fit into it, ensuring my involvement in future ALA projects.

Q: Where do you see librarianship evolving in the future?  What are you hopes for the profession?  What are your hopes for your career?

I am looking forward to a more intersectional, more aware, future, advocating for and with marginalized and underrepresented populations. I hope my work will speak to this throughout my career.


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