Candidate for 2022-2024 Director: Kendra Levine
Kendra K. Levine is the library directory for the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She has spent significant time researching and exploring how transportation information and data are produced, published, and shared and considers open science to be an important area of discourse in the profession. She is passionate about, and brings 15 years of experience to, transportation research and connects it to the neoliberal erosion of the public good.
Kendra earned a master’s of library and information science and master’s of information systems from Drexel University in 2008. She was named an SLA Rising Star in 2013 and an SLA Fellow in 2019. Kendra is an active volunteer with the Transportation Research Board and current co-chair of the Information and Knowledge Management Committee (AJE45). Additionally, she is the vice president of Unit 17 Librarians UC-AFT, the union for University of California lecturers and librarians.
When not working to make transportation research accessible, Kendra enjoys DJ’ing on KALX and making acidic coffee drinks. You can find Kendra on Twitter @kk_levine or her site, LibraryAttack.com, where she would love to connect about transportation and library workers.
Question #1: Why are you a member of SLA? What has kept you a member throughout the years?
I joined SLA because it was a professional home for transportation librarians, and as a new librarian I needed that community. The Transportation Division (not Community) really helped me get my footing and learn that collaboration and collective work can have a significant impact.
I have remained an SLA member because I love learning from other librarians and information workers in similar roles across sectors, a community which doesn’t really exist in any other organization. Especially as my role within my organization has evolved, learning from and working with other SLA members have been invaluable in developing new practices for my library. The breadth of experience and expertise in SLA membership is unmatched—and I really value the holistic view of the information and research life cycle we as members represent. Also, I have made some really excellent friends (and pen pals!) through SLA, and I love meeting new folks and catching up with others through SLA events
Question #2: Why are you running for the SLA Board of Directors? What do you bring to the table? How do you plan to help support other SLA members, if elected?
I’m fairly open with my opinions about actions I think SLA should or should not take, so in a sense, running for the SLA Board of Directors is a consequence of being outspoken, but one that I am eager to accept. I care deeply about SLA—it has been my professional home since I was an LIS student—and I want it to continue to evolve and thrive.
Some years ago, I wrote a manifesto for professional associations like SLA outlining my philosophies, and I still feel the same way now. I want SLA to be member driven and member focused, but also recognize the need to work with members and leadership to define what that actually means. This will entail conversations with members, actively listening to their needs, and working together in empowering members in driving SLA to meet them.
If elected, I will advocate for board actions that meet those member needs and push for the board culture to be transparent for the members so that governance feels collaborative and participatory. Assessing our current structures and systems to determine obstacles and roadblocks in member engagement, and then changing our practices, is critical for SLA’s future.
Question #3: SLA is a leader in its commitment to diversity and inclusion and the importance of civil discourse. Share how you have demonstrated leadership or action in these areas, and how your own experiences will inform your contribution as an SLA board member.
Throughout my experience in leadership in volunteer organizations, I’ve learned that sometimes commitment to diversity and inclusion might be seen in conflict with “civil discourse,” which shouldn’t be the case but does signify an area that collectively we need to grow. For organizations like SLA with fairly rigid governance structures, the rules that make things predictable and documented for some can be stifling and exclusionary for others. It’s important to acknowledge that those governance structures may emulate racist and oppressive systems, and are by their nature not inclusive.
Establishing group norms and codes of conducts are an important step in fostering an environment where all members feel comfortable to engage openly, but giving members many opportunities to participate and contribute is also critical. This is something I have come to deeply appreciate through my experience in the democratization of UC-AFT (the union for UC lecturers and librarians). This included changing practices to give members more power in union decision making, and being flexible in practice so we assess and adapt to meet member needs. It’s been important to listen to those who have been historically marginalized and make sure they especially have opportunities in decision making.