She works closely with College of Education (COE) faculty to strategically develop collections that represent all cultures and backgrounds. Her goal is to enable future teachers to present diverse literature in their classrooms and to ensure that more diverse reading opportunities are available for the entire UNLV community.
Becoming an academic librarian, she said, "took a combination of years of experience, education, invaluable mentoring, and a bit of luck."
Why did you choose to become a librarian?
I've always been a believer that books don't just change lives, they can save lives — especially for children and young adults. While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I knew I wanted to work with young people and literature, and I thought this meant I needed to become a teacher. However, after working in libraries for a few years and taking some classes on youth library services, I realized that I was much better suited to being a librarian than a classroom educator.
How do you feel your work specifically impacts future teachers’ careers?
Our mission at the TDRL is to promote inclusive materials for use in the preschool through the 12th-grade curriculum that reflect the diverse identities of our student populations. I strongly believe that for our students to be successful and to reach their full potential, they must be able to see their lived experiences and the lived experiences of others in their classrooms and in the resources used to teach them.
I hope that by teaching our College of Education students about quality, inclusive curriculum materials and helping them learn how to find and evaluate inclusive resources that they’ll feel empowered not only to develop their own reader identities but also to help their future students develop a love for reading. I want to create a library where every student who walks through the door can see themselves reflected in our resources and can receive the support they need during their time at UNLV.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Being a librarian at UNLV and running one of our branches means that I do have to wear a lot of different hats. One morning I may be invited to speak to a College of Education class on graphic novels or I’ll help students find and evaluate resources. In the next hour, I may be researching and ordering materials for our collection or working with my staff on the different projects we do at the TDRL to improve the library experience for our users. As a faculty member, I also have national and University Libraries committee responsibilities and research projects to work on. Essentially the only thing that is typical in my day is responding to emails and attending meetings.
Has your daily routine changed since working remotely?
There have mainly been two big changes. The first is that I don’t get to move around the library and engage with my staff and library users like I used to due to social distancing. So when I come to work, I go straight to my office, and I try to avoid entering other staff offices or public areas throughout the day. I miss the casual check-ins that come from seeing people in person, especially my student assistants.
The second big change has been parenting my 4-year-old son while working. We’ve been really lucky to have childcare support for him since the summer, but there have been times where we don’t have childcare for a week or so. In those situations, I do still work remotely. I appreciate how supportive everyone has been about the fact that a lot of us are trying to work and care for our kids in a stressful situation.
Have you had any mishaps or funny moments working from home?
I can’t think of one singular funny moment, but it’s been interesting seeing the evolution of my son in regard to us working remotely. In the beginning, he was apprehensive toward virtual meetings and “strangers being in the house,” so he would avoid the camera a lot. Now he is really curious about who we’re meeting with and what we’re talking about. So when I’m working from home and there’s a meeting going on, there’s a good chance he’s going to make a guest appearance and say “hi” to everyone. I’m also regularly in the role of "Lego assistant." It’s not unusual to see me during meetings taking Lego pieces apart and responding to the question, “Mommy, can you get their head off?”
Do you have any current book recommendations?
The last book I’ve read that I could not put down was Deathless Divide. It surprised me because I’m not normally into historical fiction, much less historical fiction featuring zombie apocalypses. It’s about a group of Black women who are fighting to survive this apocalypse and also (fighting) for their independence in a post-Civil War world overrun by zombies. It deals with so many issues, from systemic racism to survivor guilt. I haven’t read anything like it before and it blew my mind. But there’s a lot of books that I really couldn’t put down over the past couple of months. So a few others I liked were Elatsoe, Home Home, and Miss Meteor.
What's the best meme on the internet right now?
Although I’m not a huge ‘meme’ person, what I thought was clever was the Bernie Sanders meme floating around right after the presidential inauguration. The University Libraries’ meme of Bernie Sanders and Mandy the Skeleton was one of my absolute favorites. I’ve sent that to a lot of people.
If you could explain the past year in five words or less, how would you describe it?
A blur. Time does not make sense anymore, which I think is how a lot of people feel.