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I Am MLA: Kay Strahan

Submitted by Kay Strahan; edited by Elizabeth Hinton.
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Institution: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS)

Title: Northwest Campus Librarian

Brief description of responsibilities:

I am the solo on-site librarian for the Northwest Campus of UAMS located in Fayetteville, AR, which means I coordinate all library services on the Northwest Campus and provide support to the UAMS Northwest regional program. This includes providing instructional and research services, daily management of the Library space, and participating in liaison and outreach activities. I am supported by and work in conjunction with the Education and Research Services department of the library at UAMS in Little Rock.

Why is MLA important to you?

I look up to so many great librarians and want to model myself professionally to be like them. Many of my role models are MLA members. Participating in the MLA organization has allowed me to get to know more people and be inspired by their great work.

Why did you become a librarian?

A former colleague once told me people become librarians for one of two reasons: they love books and people, or they love data and organizing. I fall into the former category. I love helping people and reading books.

What was your first library job or professional position?

My first library job was in my hometown public library as an assistant. I went to library school thinking I would become a public librarian and found the health sciences instead.

What has been the most interesting project you have worked on?

In grad school, I worked with the outreach librarian to curate content for ExploreCU, a website that archived community information in Champaign-Urbana. It was a community wiki project that included archival tours of the cities based around various themes. It paired my anthropology background with community-focused librarianship, and I had a lot of fun with it.

What is something you have on your “bucket list”?

Owning a home with two bathrooms.

What do you do in your spare time, for fun, or to relax?

I have two kids under two, so right now, spare time doesn’t exist for me (haha). Arkansas is the Natural State; I love to spend time outdoors with my kids when the weather permits, hike with my family, and garden. We recently moved to a rental where the outdoor water spigot doesn’t work (RIP), so my indoor plant garden has grown tremendously. Reach out anytime for plant pics.

What is the best thing you’ve read/watched/listened to recently?

Law and Order: SVU. It’s not new, and one can imagine it has to end at some point (23 years strong with a 24th season premiering September 22, 2022), but I hope it never does. I also listen to That’s Messed Up: An SVU Podcast hosted by comedians Kara Klenk and Liza Treyger. It’s a podcast that recaps an episode of SVU, discusses the actual crime it’s based on, and then interviews someone from the episode. I think there’s room to critique the concept of two comedians in true crime podcasting, but they do it well. They’re respectful of the crimes the episodes are based on and center on ways listeners can be involved in activism surrounding the theme of the episode. It critiques our justice system too, so it’s not straight copaganda, which is inherently problematic given our current (and, if we are truly honest, historic) sociopolitical climate. The crimes are heinous, the hosts are hilarious, and the podcast is worth a listen if you have 1-2 hours to spare. I usually don’t listen to the interviews because I’m not a Hollywood person, and they are very insider Hollywood, but some of the interviews are fascinating, even to someone who knows nothing about the industry.

Is there anything about you that others might be surprised to know?

My first date with my husband was in a tunnel underground.

In addition...

The lack of paid parental leave in this country means that many professionals give birth and get back to work as soon as possible or risk losing their paychecks. We should support our colleagues’ physical, mental, and family health by supporting paid parental leave policies in our legislatures and institutions.

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