Member Spotlight - Gwen Gregory

January 23, 2023

This week's member spotlight is on Gwen Gregory. Gwen is a past president and current member of the Illinois Association of College & Research Libraries Forum (IACRL) and a former member of the ILA Conference Program Committee, 2022. We asked Gwen to tell us a little about herself and answer a few professional and amusing questions. Continue reading to find out more about Gwen

A little background on Gwen

I am currently the Associate Dean for Collections Management at the Northern Illinois University Libraries in DeKalb, which is about 70 miles west of Chicago. I started work here during the pandemic in September 2020. I’ve worked at academic and special libraries in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Illinois.

I like figuring out the tactical side of libraries: workflows and how we can provide the most effective and efficient services. In recent years I have tried to use my own privilege to help others succeed, both in library work and in higher education.

How did you get your start in libraries?

When I was growing up, the staff members at my local public library (shout out to the Los Griegos Branch, Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Public Library) let me check out as many books as I wanted and upgraded my card to adult before I reached the required age.

In the summer I would walk the mile to the library and then carry home as many books as I could, which often involved resting along the way. I started working in a community college library when I was a college student and have been in libraries ever since, in four states and over quite a few years.

Best advice you've received since starting your career in libraries?

Social relationships in the workplace are important. If the library isn’t a happy place for employees, it won’t be as good for users.

Any advice to newcomers working in libraries?

Network even if you feel shy. Your colleagues always are happy to talk with you and trade stories and ideas. I like to meet newcomers; their enthusiasm can be infectious! Look for mentors; ask those you admire to mentor you.

When and why did you become a member of ILA?

I joined ILA when I moved to Illinois in 2007. My experience in other state library organizations had shown me how valuable it was, and I hoped that I could contribute to my new state in some way. Being part of professional organizations at the state and local level is very meaningful to me.

How has being a member of ILA helped you professionally? 

I have met so many interesting and wonderful people. I have presented at ILA conferences, planned legislative meetups, planned IACRL conferences and unconferences, and served on committees.

What is your proudest professional achievement to date?

I love being part of the Illinois Association of College and Research Libraries (IACRL), a forum of ILA. I have served as its president, vice-president, secretary, and chair of committees. In 2019 I was chosen as Illinois Academic Librarian of the Year, of which I am enormously proud. In 2020, I started a column called EDI Perspectives in the magazine Information Today, and then I passed it on to some newer writers after keeping it going for two years.

Hardcover, paperback, e-reader, audiobook, or all?

For books I prefer print. I visit the DeKalb Public Library and browse through their stacks every week.

Favorite author?

There are too many. I love discovering new authors, especially if I can then go back and read their previous work. A gold mine is when I read a terrific book and find that the author has written ten more.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what five books would you bring with you to pass the time until being rescued?

Torture to even think about this. Not a fun question.

Cat or Dog?

Each have their good points. I currently have two cats, Todd and Nancy, but I hope to have a dog again someday.

One person you would like to meet, dead or alive why?

I would like to meet the Dalai Lama. I heard him speak in person once; meeting him would be amazing.

Making up my own fun question:

Where would you like to travel?

I read about places and then really want to go there; some authors do a wonderful job of describing places. I would really like to visit Quebec City and Montreal after reading Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny. I enjoy seeing buildings, so someday I hope to visit Barcelona, Rome, and Granada and see the buildings there. I also want to go to Costa Rica to see the birds.

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