I am ALA INTERNATIONAL SPOTLIGHT is one of several new initiatives by ALA President 2018-2019 Loida Garcia-Febo to expand ALA’s global presence. By highlighting and recognizing talented international members from different regions around the world, ALA is truly a global association with a strong mission in supporting library workers and advocates. Each month, I am ALA INTERNATIONAL SPOTLIGHT will feature a new international member who will share how ALA has supported their work and how they see the profession today. This month, we feature Meggan Houlihan,Instruction Librarian, New York University Abu Dhabi in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Can you tell us about yourself and your work?
I am the Associate Academic Librarian for the Arts and Coordinator of Library Instruction and Student Programs at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD). NYUAD is a liberal arts and science college with engineering. The current enrollment is just over 1,300 students, representing over 120 nationalities. Working with our diverse student body is one of the best aspects of my job!
Over the last five academic years, my role has transitioned from solely serving first-year students, as the First-Year Experience and Instruction Librarian, to developing a more holistic and programmatic approach to information literacy at NYUAD. As the Arts Librarian, I collaborate with faculty in the departments of Music, Art, Art History, and Film, to create subject-specific information literacy learning opportunities for students, while also curating collections. As the Coordinator of Library Instruction and Student Programs, I collaborate with liaison librarians and campus partners to develop tiered information literacy programs.
The best part about being at a small institution is that we often get to wear multiple hats so when I’m not working on instruction initiatives, you might find me working on space analysis projects, leading user feedback surveys, or even making buttons with students at 2 a.m...
Why is it important to be a librarian today?
In the era of fake news, alternative facts, and information overload, I think librarians are more important than ever. As someone who has been involved with instruction for over ten years, I like to think of us, instruction librarians, as facilitators that provide meaningful opportunities for students to develop and enhance their critical thinking and information literacy skills. Together, we’re making a difference in the classroom, but outside the classroom, librarians are also working hard to archive meaningful data, support innovative scholarship, and develop new technologies. I know many assume Google and Amazon will eliminate the need for librarians, but we’re not going anywhere.
Tell us three words that describe you?
Adventurous. Practical. Engaged.
How has ALA helped you in your career?
In my research and talks, I often talk about local and global context, and to me, ALA has helped me on both the local and global level. As an active member of LIRT and IRRT conference program committees, I have worked on developing conference programs that address emerging topics that inspire all librarians. I’m also a member of IRRT’s International Connections Committee. We’re currently working on developing new initiatives to increase opportunities for international members within ALA. Exciting opportunities coming soon!
On a local level, this month librarians from throughout the region attended ALA-Sharjah Library Conference, a two-day event that brings together speakers, attendees, and vendors from across the world to discuss emerging library issues. This small, yet mighty, conference allows colleagues within the region to exchange knowledge and share best practices, and it’s not every day you get to have lunch with Loida.
Are you an ALA international member? We want to recognize ALA’s international members; they are important to us. To be considered for the ALA International Member Spotlight, please fill out this short questionnaire.
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