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Science and Technology Section (STS): Elections

STS Member-at-Large Candidate: Tara Radniecki

STS Member-at-Large Candidate: Tara Radniecki

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Tara Radniecki
Head of DeLaMare Science & Engineering Library

University of Nevada, Reno

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

I grew up in rural Minnesota but have called Nevada home for the past seven years. I am newly tenured and have been fortunate enough to serve as the head of the DeLaMare Science & Engineering Library since mid-2019. Coming from a family of educators, I always wanted to work in higher education but assumed it would be in a professor role. Before leaving to live and study abroad, my undergraduate mentor suggested I look into librarianship as a possible career path. While I may have originally dismissed the idea, having had very little prior interaction with librarians, overtime I noticed two other college friends get their library science degrees and I started looking more into what it meant to be an academic librarian. After learning about the impact you can have and the variety of work that can be done, I earned my IMLS degree. I promised myself if I didn’t like being a librarian after two years I could always go back to school for something else. Fast forward almost 12 years and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. In addition to serving as the head of a science library, my primary work is as an engineering and physical sciences librarian and leading our makerspace program.

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

I have been a member of STS for seven years. What attracted me to the group was the ability to utilize the collective wisdom of so many STEM librarians as I began supporting disciplines I had no prior experience in. I remain in STS because through it I am constantly exposed to new ideas and solutions within a supportive community full of individuals wanting to help each other as we move our profession forward.

What does equity, diversity, and inclusion mean to you?

These are three different concepts but together they represent the everyday work that needs to happen to create places where people of all backgrounds work, learn, and live together and are valued and treated equitably. Where people are encouraged to bring their entire selves and engage fully without fear of reprimand, ostracization, or worse. Such conditions are not only necessary for individual happiness, but it is only in those types of environments we can begin to really understand one another’s experience. These concepts tell us there need not be a shared exact experience to be successful, but rather it is shared understanding and respect of the differences we all bring that will move us forward. Blanket policies that promise equal treatment on a broad scale have failed our libraries, organizations, and society by ignoring the differing experiences and voices of those in marginalized groups. In a system as flawed as ours, true equality can only be achieved through equity-driven action that recognizes different people will need different resources and opportunities in order to reach an equal outcome compared to someone more privileged. Statements issued by institutions have rung hollow and are often performative in nature. There is real work to be done by individuals and organizations to dismantle systemic racism and prejudice. A great unlearning, as so many insightful scholars and activists have said. In our own libraries, with long histories of segregation and predominantly white staff, we need to critically look at the ways we have failed our BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and other patrons and colleagues who don’t fit the privileged straight and white mold. We need to look at our library schools and ask ourselves why our applicants continue to lack the diversity we know will move our field forward and allow us to better serve our communities. But most importantly, we need to move beyond examining and listening and talking and take real action to create, assess, and protect systems that provide true equity and inclusion to those from diverse backgrounds. We need to see a continuity and consistency of actions that support these goals across time with a determined focus that not achieving them is simply not an option.

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?

a. STS should strive to inform members more of the good work being done within the section through more frequent and visible updates and better organization of the website and related online locations. If not already being done, I envision the Executive Board ensuring chairs of all committees creating simple annual reports on the work that was done and the anticipated work for the next year, as well as meeting minutes. These documents should then be shared in a consistent manner across STS which may include the website, STS LibGuides, or ALA Connect in order for all members to access easily. Transparency of STS activities and a more user-friendly website will result in greater community building and engagement.

b. I believe that there should be a continued focus on critical diversity, inclusion, and equity issues both within our own profession and how we as librarians can champion and engage with these causes in our own communities. In support of this goal, STS should work to expand its mentoring program and ensure that it meets the needs of our diverse librarian populations and either provide or share EDI-related professional development opportunities as they relate not only to our work as librarians but also to our roles as STEM professionals.

c. I would also like to see STS collaborate with the ACRL Research and Scholarly Environment Committee to ensure resources are available to that speak to the open access, open science, and open data movements that directly impact the work of STS members.

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

a. I think STS will need to continue to create professional development opportunities and venues for communication for its users in an increasingly online modality. Online opportunities increase access for all users, allow for easy archiving of information, and allow for a wider range of speakers and topics than traditional in-person formats.

b. I also think STS will need to engage with its members regularly to learn what is happening in the field in order to determine the best ways to support them. It may be through new and different professional development opportunities, guidance on policy development, or connecting members to resources outside of STS.

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

When I was a kid I actually did not enjoy reading. In fact, I used to lie to my friend and tell her I did indeed read that Baby-Sitters Club or Nancy Drew book that she had just finished so she would think I was cool, too. (Sorry, Jackee!)

STS Member-at-Large Candidate: Sandy Avila

STS Member-at-Large Candidate: Sandy Avila

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Sandy Avila
Science Librarian
University of Central Florida

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

I have been a librarian for ten years and first got interested in the field after spending five years teaching Asian Studies and world religion as an adjunct professor. As I was writing my first graduate thesis and was working to find obscure Buddhist text resources that were hard to source but that I was able to find on my own....I realized I had an untapped skillset I needed to spend more time exploring! My love of research, teaching, and helping others is what propelled me into library school and since then I haven’t looked back. I love education as I am currently working towards a PhD. Perhaps after that I’ll work towards a pilates instructor certification. In my spare time, I keep busy raising two kids, staying active in nature, and seeking adventure wherever it finds me!

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

Since I became a new science librarian back in 2016, I began attending STS meetings at ALA conferences to get more acclimated with academic science librarianship. I knew that attending sessions and getting involved would help me to learn more about my new job and how to be the best science librarian I could be! Attending meetings allowed me to grow my network and it introduced me to other senior leaders in our field who have helped to mentor me. I have also gained considerable knowledge about what other science librarians do in their positions and how we can collaborate. Since 2016, I have served on the STS Hot Topics Discussion Group and I was the STS Liaison to the American Physical Society.

What does equity, diversity, and inclusion mean to you?

Unfortunately in our current political world, we see many atrocities occurring that showcase how systematic racism and neglect for underrepresented people is being improperly handled. In workplaces we see a lack of diversified representation across all sectors, leaving patrons/customers not seeing those who look like them, as they make their ways through our spaces. If we are to be more inclusive, we need to break old habits, have serious and difficult conversations, and be willing to change so that proper equity, diversity and inclusion measures can be fully actualized. All people devoid of gender, race, skin color, sexuality, religion, disability, economic/social, or educational status should be recognized and given a fair chance and libraries should be one place where we should strive to make this an everyday reality. I am committed to implementing more EDI compliant views and practices in my workplace.

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 would like to see STS grow their reach and to explore building bridges with other related sections across ALA. As academia becomes more interdisciplinary it would be good to see STS branch out to partner more and create new ways of looking at things. I could see committees and members working to build broader programming and cross-disciplinary teams, where our varying expertise can be used to help mentor and cross-train librarian about overlapping issues and trends. Committees could each work to find one group to partner with and to brainstorm ideas.

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

Staying relevant to science and technology librarians means we need to stay current with emerging technology and with trends happening in both librarianship and within the broader science realm. It would be great to see STS provide professional development opportunities to our members and perhaps to gain more industry knowledge as it applies to our jobs. Our work in libraries needs to be more represented in the work of the section, allowing for all sectors (public or private) to have a voice and a role. Seeing more collaborative work between committees and allowing for dialogue with all parties is a great way to ensure we stay current and relevant.

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

I originally wanted to go to school to be an anesthesiologist, but after my Biology classes kicked my butt during my third year in college, I decided to supplement them with dance classes to ease my stress. I didn’t make it to medical school, but I stayed the course and earned my BS in Biology after an extra year in undergrad study. But I loved taking dance classes so much that I ended up going back to school for a 2nd BA degree in Dance, of which I earned before going to graduate school. I wouldn’t have gotten my current position as a science librarian without that biology degree and it is a constant reminder to me that no matter how hard life gets, what you put your mind to, you can truly achieve. Today I use this story with other struggling pre-med students, to let them know they aren’t alone as they work hard to achieve their goals- and to show them that if things don’t go according to plan, they will end up alight and possibly even better off than they ever expected they could be.