Mark is the Library Director at Maranatha Baptist University in Watertown, WI. He has been a member of ACL since 2013. You can follow Mark on Twitter @theoflector.
Describe yourself using a book title: I found this the most difficult question. I think Ready Player One by Ernest Cline probably fits the best. Growing up there was a hole-in-the-wall pizza place two blocks from my childhood home that had the Capcom arcade game ‘1942’. I used to love eating pizza and playing that game. I would like to believe I am one player in this game of life who is always ready. That idea resonated with me when I joined the Army while their slogan was still “Be All You Can Be” and you can’t be anything if you aren’t trained and prepared. Readiness is the key tenant of military philosophy. And even now being a librarian, it is one of those professions that keeps you on your toes since we need to “always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks you” (1 Pet. 3:15). So I’ll be Ready, Player One.
What’s the best thing about being a librarian? The people! Meeting the needs of the people you are able to serve by assisting with a need for information by finding a perfect match with what you can provide through the library is the best thing about being a librarian. If we didn’t have people who needed information there wouldn’t be much need for a library.
What are you currently reading? I’m currently reading Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. I try to read broadly by constantly rotating through various fields and genres. This is my science/technology rotation and thus far it has been helpful to paint the broader picture of how scientists think about the universe fitting together. Otherwise, I just finished The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead as well as Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephan Baxter is next on the docket.
Describe ACL in three words: Literately Lingering Librarians
How have you, as an academic librarian, contributed to your campus? I present information literacy modules to the freshman English classes, teach as an adjunct from time to time in the Bible department, contribute workshop sessions during our student life emphasis weeks, sit on the library committee, the educational technology committee, and the leadership council. And love taking time to discuss whatever students have on their minds to help them make connections with what they learn in class with what they learn on their own. I consider the library as the prime place for that self-directed learning that takes place outside of the classroom, and making sure that our building, resources, and staff contribute to that is vital.
I began my career as a librarian . . .So as a continuation of my “book title bio”, by desire to “be all I could be” from the military led me to attending Bible College and pursing Pastoral Studies. Which turned into Seminary, and put me in the library a lot more (basically lived there on Saturdays). The extra time in the library found me offering to help fellow students navigate the library to try and save them time. This paved a way, with a little nudge from our seminary librarian at the time, to consider librarianship as a career. I didn’t give that much thought until God started closing all the pastoral doors I was pursuing. There was an open position at Maranatha and so I “allowed” God the opportunity to change my direction. And He promptly did. I started out at the circulation desk, moved to the assistant director, and became the director when our previous director, Lois Oetken, retired. As of now, I’ve been at it almost a decade. But that is how it started.
What do you value about ACL? It is easy to connect with just anyone and have a strong connection on both a personal and professional level. I’ve found it to be warm and welcoming compared to other associations and conferences I’ve attended. And now that I’ve been a member for several years it feels much more like extended family and I think that is what I value the most.
How were you introduced to ACL? Lois Oetken was the library director here at the time and I was just finishing up my MLIS. She thought it would be good to get connected. So I did.
How are you or have you been involved in ACL? I helped develop the consortia eBook lists for a few years, have presented a few times at conference, write book reviews for TCL, was able to moderate the panel with Christian publishers a few years back, just finished a term as a member of the Liberal Arts Committee, and most recently, was elected to the ACL Board of Directors.
Do you have any specific interests in the library world? I’ve taken a keen interest in copyright law and took Harvard Law School’s free edX course on the subject, which was very fascinating. I’m also trying to stay abreast of developments in the open access side of things. And those two tend to clash quite a bit so I think there will be plenty of material of interest between those two things to keep me engaged over the next few years.