By A. Faulkner
What is your role in the GLBTRT?
Currently, I’m the chair of the Resources Committee, though I’ve served on that committee since 2015. I feel very grateful for the opportunity to work with my committee members, reach out to other committees, and evaluate how our resources can best meet the needs of the GLBTRT and its users.
What does the GLBTRT mean to you?
As a relatively new member of ALA, the organization and its affiliates can feel confusing, overwhelming, and unwelcoming. Attending conferences, or trying to get involved in ALA, can be isolating and frustrating.
Since I’ve joined the GLBTRT, it’s become a nest of sorts where I can belong. I’ve been fortunate to make some good friends through there, and it’s been a place where I can feel free to express myself and discuss LGBTQ+ subjects and issues in libraries without judgment. It has provided me with opportunities to improve my leadership abilities and challenge myself.
GLBTRT members have shown me compassion and sacrificed their time to assist me during two crises around GLBTRT socials at two ALA conferences, and encouraged me to join in despite circumstances. It is because of those experiences that I feel encouraged to participate in the RT.
Are you involved in ALA in other ways?
At the moment, I’m a member of the NMRT and ACRL, and actually will be getting involved with ACRL’s Instruction Section soon. As I learn more about the organization, I hope to become more involved.
What professional work do you perform?
I recently became the head of research and instruction at a small women’s university in Massachusetts. After juggling part-time weekend and evening hours there, as well as hours as a reference librarian for a public library, for so many years, I feel very grateful for my current opportunity. It’s an exciting time because I get to restructure our information literacy program, perform outreach and work more directly with faculty and staff, and rebuild our research and instruction team.
What would you like to share about your personal life?
Recently, in responding to issues a committee member’s resource addressed in highlighting asexual and aromantic literature, I came out as someone on the asexual spectrum. Since then, I’ve been more honest about my experiences as an individual who identifies as gay and also somewhat asexual. Coming out like that is electrifying, but creates a white vulnerability. I’m grateful that people have been primarily supportive, and I’m currently translating my experiences into a language that’s easier to comprehend. (Side note: If you identify as asexual or aromantic and are reading this, feel free to contact me directly.)
While I love animals, my favorite pets have been a mandarin dragonet and a snowflake eel. Given the chance to start my undergraduate education all over again, I would probably pick marine biology.
What are you most proud of?
The concept of pride doesn’t come easy to me, but I would say my ability to challenge myself, push myself beyond my comfort zone. The anxiety that such challenges produce can be frightening, but the rewards have been worth it. I’ve made lasting friendships and improved more as an individual that way than through isolation and avoidance.
Who inspires you?
Honestly, there are too many people to name, both inside and outside the profession.
It’s easy to admire the many individuals (say, in ALA) doing amazing work leading the profession and making a difference. The trick is not to idolize such individuals to the point where negative comparison, self-abasement occurs. We’re all human, with our own strengths and flaws, and it helps to know your idols on a more personal level, if possible.
What are your goals? (Professional and/or personal.)
Professionally, beyond getting more involved in ALA, I aim to keep improving my skills, including getting a certificate or a second master’s degree in instructional design. I also aim to publish an article, but on what, I’m not certain yet. Currently, I’m leaning towards the emotional labor and experiences of LGBTQ+ academic librarians.
Personally, many of my goals are nebulous, to keep improving upon myself. But as my life starts to slowly come together, I aim to get to a more stable place. Maybe build that perfect reef aquarium, find that perfect piece of ocean jasper. Go back to volunteering at my local cat shelter.
Recently, I joked to a friend about becoming a certified personal trainer, but that’s a consideration, too.
What do you think (or predict) is the future of libraries?
Nobody knows for certain what the future of libraries will be, and I keep being surprised by what gains momentum (or not). But, what I’ve learned is that assuming anything about the populations we serve, or saying “that’s the way we’ve always done it”, are dangerous modes of thinking. There will always be tenets that will always hold true in librarianship, but change is basically inevitable. We need to understand how our populations are discovering and using information, and meet their needs as best as possible. Additionally we need to advocate our value to our communities, particularly those who don’t use libraries, so that they can learn that we are more than book repositories and do amazing work.
In what direction would you like the GLBTRT to move in the future?
I would like to see the GLBTRT do more work to support LGBTQ+ librarians and the issues that they face in the profession.
I would also like to see more virtual and/or regional meetings outside of conferences, or any way for relatively new members to the RT to feel welcome and involved.
If you could be transported into the fictional world of any book, where would you go?
Reality is bizarre enough for me, but if it counted, I’d love to go to a world where Pokémon existed.
What would be the title of your autobiography?
Carapace: A Taxonomy of Digital Organisms and Phenomena.
If you could only choose one song to play every time you entered a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?
“Radian” by AIR.
If you could have a dinner party with 5 culturally or historically significant figures, living or dead, who would you invite?
One lesson that I’ve learned from reading classic literature is that necromancy has unimaginable consequences.
Instead, I would trade it with the less-threatening power of clearing the schedules of and gathering five good friends for a couple of hours. It may seem trivial, but many of the people who have been the most supportive of me over the years either live far away, or disengage from social media. Even at ALA conferences, many of my friends there are remarkably busy with minimal time to talk. So, to spend time with those people for a dinner party would be significant enough to me.
What is the meaning of life?
Is the secret password “42”?
Seriously though, it would be foolish of me to think that I knew. But, I think it would revolve around connecting with others, finding inner peace, and understanding the meaning of happiness and suffering.
Be kind to others; you never know who you might be inspiring.