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Science and Technology Section (STS): Elections

STS Secretary Officer Candidate: Chapel Cowden

Picture of Chapel CowdenSTS Secretary Officer Candidate:
Chapel Cowden

Health & Science Librarian and UC Foundation Associate Professor
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
(pronouns: she/her)

 

Tell us more about yourself and how you became a librarian.

I have an undergraduate degree in Biological Anthropology with a focus in primate studies that lead me to an early career in zoos, managing docents and teen volunteers. After leaving my first career, I became a librarian by accident when I took a job managing circulation services at my alma mater, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I hated the job, but was soon asked to join the Special Collections department, where I worked to pull the department into the digital era. I had been working on a Masters of Education to teach biology, but changed gears and got my MIS, which led to a tenure-track job (I’m now tenured) as the Health & Science Librarian at UTC, a position I’ve held for about 7 years now. In addition to this role I also adjunct for our university’s Honors College where I teach a course entitled Perspectives on Death & Dying. I have a new course proposal up for approval, Deconstructing discrimination in the sciences, which I hope to have approved and will teach in the 2021-2022 academic year.

 
How long have you been involved in STS and what attracted you to the section?

In grad school I focused on services for science and health science libraries before transitioning into a professional role doing just this sort of work. STS always seemed like a natural place to learn from others who were doing the same kind of work and to find my “people”. I started volunteering on STS committees in 2015 with the Professional Development Committee where I was a member for two years and then Co-chair for two years. I also served on the Hot Topics Committee for two years. I’m in the midst of my second year as Co-chair of the Research Committee and what a wild trip that has been! I’ve been so excited to stretch our Research Forum and Poster Sessions to allow virtual participation (for free!) and expand the chance to present to those unable to travel. It’s been hectic, but very invigorating and exciting at the same time. I’ve also been fortunate to serve STS on the EDI Task Force and now on the EDI Implementation Team (more details below).

 

What does equity, diversity, and inclusion mean to you? EDI work represents opportunity but requires swift action. We’ve talked about EDI long enough in academia, but discover that the work is often still in its infancy. In libraries, we should now be applying an EDI lens to all of our work from culturally responsive teaching (one of my areas of research/practice) to ensuring our digital offerings are accessible to altering our hiring practices to be truly inclusive, and much, much more. I served on the STS EDI Task Force and now on the EDI Implementation Team and I’m proud of STS’ commitment to this important work and the value placed upon it by our members. EDI work also requires humility of me--being prepared to accept, and grateful for, correction.    

 

What goals for the section would you have if elected to this position? How do you envision committees and members helping the section achieve those goals?

I’m not sure how much influence the Secretary has on goal setting for the section, but I hope that we continue to work hard at implementing long-term change through incorporating EDI measures into all of our considerations. Our Implementation Task Force is proposing an EDI Officer position and an accompanying committee that we expect to function to keep these considerations front-of-mind for our section. In a similar vein, I would also like to see us continue to expand our virtual programming to accommodate folks who cannot travel to ALA. STS is already doing this in many ways, but it would be great to see it continue to expand, including social events (like Hannah’s Rempel’s Book Club).

 

Where do you see STS going in the future? How does it need to change and evolve to stay relevant to science & technology librarians?

I feel that STS has a great foundation and lots of dedicated long-term members. We just need to be very careful about avoiding insular behaviors and work to welcome new members and orient them to STS.I think the biggest difference could be made with an orientation event for new members or some sort of new members committee or group (a sub-group of the Membership Committee perhaps). Prioritizing virtual participation also opens up STS to a much larger group of folks who may have an interest in science librarianship and we need to work to provide opportunities for those folks. As mentioned previously, we also need to stay the course with our EDI efforts and continue to push hard to examine our practices and work for increased inclusivity in all areas.

 

Tell us something interesting about yourself that not very many people know.

I love to weave baskets! I took a class a VERY long time ago and just started back a year or two ago. Currently I’ve been re-teaching myself to weave baskets out of split kudzu vine. It’s a process--you have to gather the vine, split it, and cure it before you can weave with it. It’s really only possible to gather the vines in winter when the sap is down and you can get the woodier runners of the plant. But I’ve had so much fun playing with different types of plants to use as ribs as well as other materials to weave into the baskets. Infinite variety and creativity are so possible in basket weaving!

STS Secretary Officer Candidate: Emily Gorman

Picture of Emily GormanSTS Secretary Officer Candidate:
Emily Gorman

Research, Education, and Outreach Librarian
University of Maryland Health Sciences and Human Services Library
 
Tell us more about yourself and how you became a librarian.

My interest in librarianship began in college, when I was reexamining my career options after deciding not to pursue the pre-med path anymore. Ultimately I was inspired to consider librarianship by my grandmother, who was a middle school librarian. Although she passed away before I graduated, she was the reason I knew you could actually go to school to become a librarian! I walked into my university’s library one day and asked to shadow whoever I could, and the rest is history

 
How long have you been involved in STS and what attracted you to the section?

I have been involved in STS since 2015, when I got my first full-time position as a professional librarian. I was the only science librarian at my library on top of being new to the profession, so I hoped to find a network of people in similar positions to learn from and commiserate with as needed. When I attended my first ALA Annual Meeting in 2016, I immediately felt at home amongst STS. I joined a committee and have been involved ever since!

 

What does equity, diversity, and inclusion mean to you?To me, equity, diversity, and inclusion are all pieces of a larger puzzle that essentially boils down to ensuring respect and opportunity for all persons, no matter what. It means making sure everyone is not only welcome to join any space but also given the resources to do so, and that once in the space they are supported. It means being in tune with my own identities and biases and recognizing when those biases are preventing me from noticing any type of inequity, lack of diversity, and exclusion and working to counteract it. Equity, diversity, and inclusion, cannot just be words – they must be actions.

 

What goals for the section would you have if elected to this position? How do you envision committees and members helping the section achieve those goals?

If elected, my goal would be for STS to continue to find creative ways to engage its members. I think we have led the way in providing virtual programming as in-person gatherings have been reduced, and keeping up that momentum will be important. In addition to those learning opportunities, translating the social aspects of in-person gatherings to the virtual environment will also be a goal. Our committees can leverage the expertise and creativity of their members to come up with ideas for engagement and the sharing of resources. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused everyone to adapt to a new way of working and interacting with people, and we can draw on those experiences to make sure STS adapts as well.

 

Where do you see STS going in the future? How does it need to change and evolve to stay relevant to science & technology librarians?

Throughout all the changes that continuously affect librarianship and professional organizations over time, I think the one constant for STS will be to continue to focus on people. I know that connecting with other science librarians is the most valuable part of section membership for me, and I imagine it is the same for others as well. Maintaining opportunities for both in-person and virtual interaction will make the section accessible to all and enable the sharing of ideas and experiences that allow us to learn from one another. With a potential decrease in the amount of in-person gatherings in the future, it will be important for STS to find new and creative ways to engage online.

 

Tell us something interesting about yourself that not very many people know.

I have become a big soccer fan in the last few years. I follow England’s top professional league, the Premier League, and typically watch at least a couple of games every weekend. My favorite team is the Leicester City Foxes. If there are any fans of rival teams out there, please don’t hold that against me!