8 March 2019
Jill Emery, Portland State University Library
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter. A balanced world is considered a better world and there is a call to celebrate women’s achievement. To this end, I have chosen to honour nine women in the library & information science field who have forged paths, led information industries, and served as inspirations to many of us. These women are iconoclasts and mavericks who refuse to settle to prescribed career paths or accept standard rhetoric for information provision. Thanks to the achievements of these women, we are all enriched and our profession is enhanced. I have learned new ways to review and consider information structures, interact within the scholarly publishing community, and work as an independent consultant. For these reasons, I celebrate Bev Acreman, Jane Burke, Pinar Erzin, Sharon Farb, Helen Henderson, October Ivins, Jill Morris, Safiya Umoja Noble, and Hazel Woodward.
Let us start with Bev Acreman, currently the interim Executive Director of UKSG. Bev is consistently underrated and underestimated for her insight and talents in scholarly publishing. Her knowledge of the scholarly communication landscape is unparalleled. She is and has been routinely recognised for her thorough knowledge of publishing, her tireless devotion to UKSG, and her innovation in leadership.
Jane Burke is Senior Vice-President of Strategic Initiatives at ProQuest. She developed the initial library management system 35 years ago and is instrumental in the continued development of library management systems to this day. Jane’s role with library and information technology serves as an exemplar for women in a traditionally male dominated field. In addition to her depth of technological knowledge, her success lies with her ability to make strategic partnerships within the LIS community and be an ardent supporter of libraries.
Pinar Erzin is Founder & President of Accucoms. Through her ability to make ready connections in the scholarly marketplace, Pinar is able to envision new services within it. Her straightforwardness and honesty with clients and colleagues is revered and respected. Pinar’s focus on quality of service is unmatched in scholarly publishing and she is also praised for her creative approaches to solving problems and issues encountered.
Sharon Farb is the Associate University Librarian for Special Collections and International Collaborations at the University of California Los Angeles Libraries. Sharon has always been open and willing to serve as a mentor to early career librarians and promote leadership opportunities where possible. Sharon is very creative in management approaches in libraries and is extremely talented at understanding models of engagement in higher education that carry long-lasting impacts. UCLA was one of the first campuses in the United States to develop stipends for open educational resources during her leadership in scholarly communications.
Helen Henderson was a Founder of Ringgold and the Managing Director of Information Power Limited. Throughout her career, Helen orchestrated connections between librarians and information providers to advance numerous initiatives. Her work with institutional identifiers is seen as a significant contribution to the scholarly publishing landscape. Her insights were always sought by others.
October Ivins was the Principle of Ivins eContent Solutions. She has served as President of NASIG and of the Society of Scholarly Publishers (SSP). October sought mentees throughout her career and was always willing to support early career librarians interested in non-traditional roles in library and information science. Her work with scholarly publishers is unrivalled and her depth of knowledge of academic publishing in North America unequalled.
Jill Morris is the Executive Director of PALCI, the Mid-Atlantic Consortium of 68 academic & research libraries. She is seen as an innovative leader who champions collaboration. Under her leadership, PALCI has become a leader in consortial management of ebooks and resource sharing. Like many of the others noted here, Jill takes creative and inventive approaches to management that result in new models of service within the North American consortia landscape.
Safiya Umoja Noble is an Associate Professor at UCLA and Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California. Her book, The Algorithms of Oppression, exposes the ways in which structural racism is built into software and web search engines. This book has helped to change the discourse of technology and begins to address the inherent bias of many of the information technology systems in use today. This is a ground-breaking work and the impact of it has resounding implications for future information structural design.
Last, but certainly not least, Hazel Woodward was University Librarian & Director of the University Press at Cranfield University in addition to being Director of Information Power Limited. In 2010, she was awarded an MBE for services to higher education. Hazel’s career has been formidable in the numerous roles she has played throughout her career but through it all she has been extremely approachable and supportive of others. Like her consultancy partner, Helen Henderson, she was extremely adept at making connections between librarians and scholarly publishers that led to the benefit of the profession as a whole.
Each of these women has made significant contributions to the field of library and information science. They balance/balanced the expansion of their careers with advancements of services and ideas that help make our work easier and more relevant. Each of them has had a resounding impact on the way I think and approach the work I do. I am a grateful beneficiary following in their footsteps. On International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate the achievements of these women and all they have brought to our profession.
These views are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKSG.