University of Houston Libraries welcomes Imani Spence as the new student success librarian in the department of Teaching and Learning.
Please describe your role at UH Libraries. How does your work align with the student success priorities of the University?
As student success librarian, I’ll be teaching instruction sessions to students and other librarians. I’ll be learning and researching ways to make students more successful on campus. For me, that means considering the issues that students may have in and out of the classroom. I hope to teach information literacy sessions with both undergraduate and graduate students. Ideally, my instruction will encourage students to see faculty as their partner in graduation and not their adversary. My undergraduate education was a bit overwhelming for me so I hope that my instruction will give students the tools to advocate for themselves and what they need to graduate confidently!
Please share a bit about your background and research interests. How do these inspire and shape your approach as a librarian?
I am coming to Houston from Baltimore, Maryland where I spent most of my life. I was born at the University of Michigan and most of my extended family is in the Detroit region. Growing up, I was homeschooled for a short period of time which really informs the ways that I approach teaching and school generally because I know how valuable it is to have individualized accommodations and instruction. In Baltimore, I worked a bit in local media, first as a public radio producer then as an arts and culture reporter. In each of these roles, I tried to bring more information about the rich literary history of Baltimore. In May 2022, I graduated with my MLIS from the University of Maryland, College Park (UMDCP). While at College Park I completed the research and teaching fellowship which allowed me to teach information literacy sessions to first year students and work within the teaching and learning department at UMDCP. The fellowship helped me feel confident in my instruction skills and showed me the value of taking care of yourself while serving a large university community.
What are one or two things you’d like faculty and students to know about working with a student success librarian?
I want to learn from faculty and students! Since this is my first university librarian position, I am hoping to approach teaching and working with faculty as a great learning experience. It is important to remember that the teaching and learning department is small so advance notice for instruction sessions is really helpful. Faculty should also consider that the library’s function on campus has expanded and grown! A librarian is more than just a person who is in the books, we are people who are interested in guiding and ushering in new research. I know that sessions from librarians in my studies made me feel more connected to all the resources available to me on campus. If you’re hoping to give students library instruction but not sure how to insert it into your syllabus, reach out in advance and I’m happy to brainstorm with you.