NMRT Board Member Profile – Erin Ellis

by Loretta Dunne

This is a very busy year for Erin Ellis; she is up for tenure and promotion in her current position as Coordinator of Instructional Services at the University of Kansas Libraries.  Despite all that she is still making time for the NMRT.  Erin feels the NMRT is an important part of her professional development. She currently serves as the NMRT Outreach Director and has been a member at large since 2003.

Ms. Ellis has worked at the University of Kansas since August of 2005. She both teaches and oversees the undergraduate information competency course, develops strategies to deliver library instruction into course management software and coordinated instruction services for the university. Her involvement in the instructional side of librarianship started early. As an undergraduate, Erin worked in the library as a research assistant. “The feeling of teaching someone something new was, and is, like giving them a small gift.” That feeling of reward and her respect for her supervisor at the library led her to pursue her MLS after she received her undergraduate degree in English.

Her involvement in NMRT began when she started in her first professional librarian position. As she sought ways to become involved professionally, she looked to a colleague whom she respected and she discovered the colleague’s involvement in NMRT. NMRT sounded like a fun way to get involved, learn about committee work and further her career. Erin has served in a number of different capacities on many committees in the organization.

The Outreach Director is an elected position. The Director oversees the activities of several committees and facilitates communications between them. She has worked on three of the committees she will now oversee, making her familiar with their goals, yearly calendars and workload. In her role she hopes to explore better ways for committees to communicate with one another and work virtually. The NMRT and ALA have many resources available to support the committees, bur facilitation is often needed to bring the two together. 

NMRT members either nominate themselves for office or are nominated by another member. Once vetted by the NMRT Board as a member in good standing, the candidate is officially asked if they are willing to serve. Some paperwork is required, such as your record of service and scholarship, education and work experience and a brief Statement of Professional Concerns. This information is available to voters. The candidates also participate in a forum on the NMRT listserv (NMRT-l) as well as the in-person forum at the ALA midwinter conference (if they attend). Erin was nominated by another member for her role and was happy to be elected.

Erin graduated in 2002 from Emporia State University. She began her career at Texas Tech University Libraries and then moved to the University of Kansas in 2005. She has avoided what she sees as the tendency of some relatively new librarians to settle in too much and “get into an auto-pilot mentality.” She feels that it is important for librarians to stay engaged in personal learning and development, although this can be difficult due to time and financial constraints. Seeking out mentors and staying current in the field is crucial; NMRT can be part of the strategy of staying involved and participating.

Erin is a typical librarian in one way – she always makes time for fun regardless of how busy she is. She enjoys traveling, reading, new movies, and hanging out with friends. Although her new role with the NMRT and her preparations for tenure this fall require a lot of her energy, she will continue to pursue one of her passions – the band Nine Inch Nails (she is going to fit in two concerts this summer) and her latest “addiction” – Scrabulous, an online game similar to the board game Scrabble. If she plays with the zest that she participates in the field of librarianship, she is probably one of those players who can always find ways to use their x and q tiles.