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For Librarians, by Librarians - Emerald shares Award Winning Advice

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ACRL Instruction Section Ilene F. Rockman Publication of the Year Award – Emily Drabinski

Image: Emily DrabinskiAssociation of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Instruction Section Ilene F. Rockman Publication of the Year Award honours the late Dr. Ilene Rockman, a renowned leader in information literacy.

The award recognizes an outstanding article or book on instruction or information literacy in an academic library environment from the last two years.

This year's winner is Emily Drabanski for her article "Toward a Kairos of Library Instruction".

My experience and my day to day role at present

I graduated from Syracuse University's MLS programme in 2003. My first job, as an indexer at the H.W. Wilson Social Science Index, is where I got my love of thinking about and working with structures of language and knowledge.

I started working as an instruction and reference librarian in 2004 at Sarah Lawrence College and have been at Long Island University (LIU), Brooklyn since 2008. I am currently our Coordinator of Instruction, organizing curriculum-integrated information literacy instruction across the campus.

About my article, "Toward a Kairos of Library Instruction"

This article came out of my master's thesis in the composition and rhetoric programme here at LIU Brooklyn. I have long been interested in this paradox of naming, that we must name things in order to render them objects of analysis, and yet in that rendering we undo the essential contingency of things themselves. Language requires us to fix things that are always in motion. It's a thought puzzle that I think about all the time.

For this article, I was interested in the challenge teaching librarians face as we attempt to help students master knowledge organization structures while simultaneously troubling the fixity of the structures themselves. How do librarians work with the standards created by our professional bodies in order to create for ourselves teaching and learning contexts that are more specific and local?

Winning this award and how it will impact my work

I could not be more shocked to win this prize! The kind of research and writing I do is speculative, analytic, and does not lead to easy implementation of the next new best thing. I take a very long time to read, think, and write, and to have those efforts affirmed is really pretty extraordinary. Winning this tells me I'm doing something right, so I will continue to write pretty abstract things that are more focused on changing how we think about our work than how we do it.

A positive change I've made recently that I'd recommend to others

I now set aside half an hour every day to read. I think reading is really important – it helps us see the conversations that are happening so we can begin to join them. Reading more has been the best change I've made in the last year.

Three tips I'd give to someone starting out in librarianship

  1. Find something in the field to care about beyond simply getting a job.

    (I know the job matters, believe me, I know, I went into the field seeking stable employment so I know that's the motivation for most of us. But something beyond the job matters too, if you want to stay in the field and be happy).

  2. Stay curious.

  3. And ask lots of questions.

These are essential skills for librarians, though I think they'd serve people well no matter the career.


Emerald's Library Studies eJournals collection provides a comprehensive resource for librarians, information scientists, educators and students worldwide, spanning disciplines such as library management, library technology and information science.

Selected articles are published in partnership with The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), and under an informal arrangement with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Global Libraries Initiative.

Of the titles in this collection, 40 per cent are indexed by Thomson Reuters (ISI), including Library Hi Tech, Journal of Documentation and Interlending & Document Supply.

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