Member of the Month

Denise Nelson – 02/2021

Denise is the Library Director at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, CA (3,647 FTE). She has been an ACL member since 2003.

Twitter Handle: @NiseNelson

Describe yourself using a book title: A Lineage of Grace

What’s the best thing about being a librarian? Particularly at small or medium-sized institutions, librarians are uniquely situated to engage with students and faculty from across the disciplines–every student is “our” student. I love having that window into the work underway in so many areas of my university, and I’m grateful for the variety of ways I can provide support and direction to students and colleagues alike. It’s a privilege to help demystify the world of information and research, and I especially enjoy seeing students’ confidence grow as they become increasingly self-sufficient users of information.

What are you currently reading? Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (Claiborne, Wilson-Hartgrove, & Okoro); Reviewing the Academic Library: A Guide to Self-Study and External Review (ACRL); I Was Told There’d be Cake (Crosley).

Describe ACL in three words: Developmental, Collegial, Incomparable.

How do you (or How have you), as an academic librarian, contribute to your campus? In addition to supporting students and colleagues through research instruction, point-of-need help, and individual consultations, I think one of the most important things I do as an academic librarian is contribute to creating an environment where every user feels truly free to express their need for information or help. Beyond the library, I serve on my institution’s Rank and Tenure Committee and as a member of the Faculty Council. In the last few years, I’ve also served as Faculty Handbook Editor and as a member of the Faculty Governance Committee. In less formal contexts, I enjoy building collegial relationships through reading, discussion, and other small groups across our campus.

I began my career as a librarian… by serving as a teacher’s aid in my high school library. That was my first experience with tasks like tracking periodicals, facilitating circulation, and the various other tasks student workers usually undertake. I later served as a student worker in both circulation and tech services in my university library, then transitioned to a full-time tech services staff position. I completed my MLIS while in that position, then served as an Instructional Services Librarian for about 15 years before becoming the director of my library. This is my 22nd year in full-time library service, and I’m grateful daily for the past and ongoing encouragement of colleagues and mentors.

What do you value about ACL? More than any other organization I’ve found, ACL and its members understand the students I work with, the kind of institution I serve, and the connectedness of faith and vocation that’s so important to me. ACL colleagues are creative in the ways they serve their institutions and generous with their hard-earned wisdom. They’re deeply invested in supporting one another personally and professionally. The association as an organization is serious about providing resources and learning opportunities members will find useful. I’ve particularly appreciated the leadership development experience I’ve gained by serving on the ACL Board of Directors.

How were you introduced to ACL? The librarians at PLNU have a long history of engagement and volunteerism in ACL, and I joined as soon as I became a librarian here. Now I have my own happy history of meaningful friendships, great learning opportunities, and service in the association.

How are you or have you been involved in ACL? Attending the annual conference, contributing to the conference program by giving presentations , and participating in interest groups have all been wonderfully fulfilling ways of being involved in ACL. In more official capacities, I’ve served on the Board of Directors in several ways. I’m currently serving simultaneously as Past President and Secretary. Previously, I served two terms as President, one term as Secretary, and one term as a Director at Large. I also had the privilege a few years ago of serving as guest editor to manage all the aspects of an issue of The Christian Librarian during the transition between editorial teams, which was a great glimpse into the work involved in that publication! Serving as a member of the host team when PLNU last hosted the annual conference was a big (but fun!) task that was really rewarding.

Do you have any specific interests in the library world? I’m especially interested in the ways the library facilitates overall student success in college, including students’ satisfaction with their college experiences.