Getting to Know: Emily Drabinski

Conference is a great opportunity to hear about all of the work your fellow librarians are doing throughout the state, but it's also an opportunity to step out of our borders and see what librarians are doing around the country. We are excited to have librarians from all over this year, and we thought you would introduce you to one from not-so-far-off Brooklyn.

Emily Drabinski, named a 2014 Library Journal Mover & Shaker is joining us at the NJLA Conference! Not only is Emily the featured speaker at the College & University Section Luncheon, she is also presenting Narratives of Library Power: The Stories Library Shelves Tell   An engaging speaker, Emily recently responded to these thought provoking questions.

Q: Regardless of type, tell us what you think are some of the challenges libraries are facing today. Any suggestions or solutions to overcome the challenges?

I think libraries are facing very serious challenges as the new presidential administration intensifies attacks on the things all of us value, from the freedom to read to equity of access to information. We have always been able to argue that core library values were not supported with enough resources, or implemented completely in our institutions. But what we're facing now is an overt and explicit attack on libraries, from the funding we receive through IMLS and NEH to the deportation and criminalization of so many library patrons and workers. I think we need to be honest with ourselves that the problems we face are outside the library, and that requires all of us to engage and organize to save everything from broadband access in rural areas to tribal college libraries. We have a lot of work to do.

Q: What do you enjoy more, being a presenter or spectator at professional conferences? Why?

I love both presenting and spectating! For me, conferences are all about the conversations. I love talking about my work, and I love talking about your work. Dialogue is the best part of being a librarian, and conferences are a chance to have lots and lots of that in sessions, at meals, in hallways. Some of my best professional and personal connections have come from being seated in the audience and up at the mic. I always try to work a little bit of both into my conference schedule. 

Q: Tell us about your research interests (or passions in life) and how you are able to incorporate them into your library related work.​

Someone just asked me this question after looking at my CV and noting that I can appear to be a bit all over the place: I'm passionate about systems and structures. I am always thinking about how things came to be the way they are, including myself and my experience, and the things I find myself doing every day. How do I understand myself to be an advocate, an organizer, a librarian, a sister, a stepmom, a cat owner? What produces those identities for me, and how do I struggle against them and take pleasure in them? How can I change them to bring more of the things I care about into the world, like freedom, equity, and justice? In the library this means things like teaching students how to function in our infrastructures of power, from rules about food and drink to the library catalog. I'm always thinking about ways to do my work that maximize opportunities for all of us.

You know Emily is going to be an amazing presenter at #njla17 when you receive this response from a NJ librarian after the announcement was made:

"Emily is wonderful! What a great speaker choice! I’ve never gone to the CUS luncheon before but I’m def going for her!"

Online registration is open until April 10, and after that, you can still register on site.

Need we say more?

Nancy Weiner and the 2016-2017 Conference Committee