Champion Spotlight: Kirk MacLeod

Kirk MacLeodI can still remember the exact day I received the call that I had been selected as a Spectrum Scholar (May 29, 2012). At the time I was a part-time student in the Library and Information Studies Program at the University of Alberta and was planning to take my degree, a course a term, for the next five-to-seven years.

As a father working full time while attending grad school, I cannot stress enough the opportunities given to me by the Scholarship. With it, I was able to complete my program in just over two-and-a-half years, and that wasn’t even the best part! The Spectrum Leadership Institute was a game changer for me.

My library experience up to that time had been working in a one-person library for two non-profit organizations. I worked with a number of wonderful people, but I was the only person in my field there. The Leadership Institute introduced me to over fifty other incoming and established Spectrum Scholars from all over. As a guy who lives twenty minutes from the hospital I was born in and in a city nearly 1700 miles Northwest of ALA headquarters in Chicago, attending ALA was both overwhelming and incredibly welcoming. I met fellow scholars at that institute who continue to amaze me with everything that can be done in the profession, and are a constant (and positive) pressure to keep working at it myself.

In the end Spectrum has given me the opportunity to be more involved in the profession than I ever imagined possible when I started in the field as a paraprofessional back in 2000. My first ten-years in the field where spent in an one person library and it was only after becoming a part of the larger community that I could begin to see the possibilities that were available to me. Since joining Spectrum I’ve worked as an Intern for the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), sat as a committee chair, appeared in a book, and have recommended the program to classmates, new students, and even my own kids.

In my mind, increasing diversity in the profession is the only way forward and Spectrum is a key part of that.

Kirk MacLeod, a member of the James Smith First Cree Nation, spent the first 10 years of his career in libraries running a one-person library for Native Counselling Services of Alberta and The Nechi Training, Research and Health Promotions Institute in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. A 2012 Spectrum Scholar, Kirk was also selected as the 2013-15 RUSA Spectrum Intern, where he ran an interview series with reference professionals across North America called the IAmRUSA project. Graduating with his MLIS in 2014, he now works as the Open Data Team Lead for the Government of Alberta. Since January 2018 he has served on the Board of Governors for the University of Alberta. He is married to the nicest woman he has ever met, and has two lovely daughters, one of which is currently working towards her own MLIS at the University of Alberta.

Kirk is a Spectrum Champion! Kirk has graciously volunteered to serve as a Cohort Champion working on outreach to the 2009-2010 Class of Spectrum Scholars. If you are a Scholar from this year please consider emailing Kirk to learn more about how you can help support Spectrum’s 20th Anniversary: A Celebration of Community. Cohort Champions have also committed to organizing a networking event in their region, activism, and fundraising efforts.