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Meet the new IACRL Vice-President/President-Elect: Shannon PohrteSeptember 28, 2023
Interviewed by Robin Harris, Northeastern Illinois University
Shannon Pohrte is the Associate Dean and Copyright Officer at Elgin Community College Library, and the newly elected IACRL Vice-President/President-Elect.
What do you think is the most important thing for you to accomplish in your new position, both professionally and personally?
I hope to support IACRL in its efforts in programming, but also get the word out about what IACRL can offer. I am really looking forward to meeting librarians from across the state that are involved in IACRL.
What initiatives or opportunities would you like to promote?
More continuing education and highlighting issues that are of interest to librarians. My committee is looking at topics about accessibility, inclusion, OER, and perspectives on students’ learning.
What do you think is the biggest barrier to pushing for more equity and diversity in libraries today?
I think the biggest barrier is connection. By this, I mean it is hard to get the word out about what libraries do for underserved communities, as well as hiring librarians from underrepresented populations. I also understand that a lack of resources also can hinder efforts in increasing communication and visibility.
What was the last book you read? Or listened to?
I am currently reading Doing It All as a Solo Parent, which is part of the Harvard Business Review Working Parents Series. I am always looking for resources to help me be a better parent as a solo, but also to a special needs child. I also listen to lots of podcasts such as ones from Brene Brown, Esther Perel, and Fuel Your Fandom, which is a geeky Gen X podcast.
What does your typical day look like in your current position?
As the Associate Dean of the Renner Academic Library at Elgin Community College, most of my job consists of supporting my faculty and staff, and those needs are ever-changing. That may mean everything from helping to update policies, to working with the faculty or staff unions. Often, I am a project manager and problem solver. I also get to be the representative for my library in many spaces.
What made you decide to be a librarian?
For me, it came down to the thrill of the hunt for information and helping patrons. I like that my days are varied, and that was especially the case as a reference librarian at the beginning of my career. I enjoyed learning new topics from the questions that patrons asked. I felt like I made a difference and contributed to the good of society.
What do you think are going to be the greatest challenges facing academic libraries in the next few years?
I can think of two. First, I think it would be good to take a look at the interpersonal relations of our staff and faculty. Attention needs to be paid to how these groups work together to make welcoming and healthy environments for all. It is important that our library personnel, as well as our students, feel safe and included. Second, keeping up with changes to better serve our patrons. This can be updates in technology, how the student experience and skills match what the libraries are teaching, how information is shared, and what inclusivity means.