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Purdue Librarians Honored with "Up and Comers" Award

Purdue Libraries Assistant Professor and Business Information Specialist Heather Howard

Assistant Professor and Business Information Specialist Heather Howard’s path to becoming a librarian faculty member at Purdue University Libraries was not as straightforward as some of her fellow colleagues’ routes may have been. The Purdue University alumna (she earned her B.S. in organizational leadership and supervision, with a minor in computer programming technology in 2004) had a varied career before she started at Purdue Libraries in the summer of 2016.

“After graduating, my career was anything but direct. I worked as a restaurant manager, steelworker, advertising account manager, and office manager for a property-management company. In these positions, I was able to hone the skills I had learned in my undergrad program in such areas as talent management, human resources, training and development, and change management,” she explained. “While working towards my MLS [Master of Library Science degree], I started working for Butler University as access services supervisor; then, after graduating in 2014, I took a position as information services librarian at Trine University.”

Now that the multi-talented Howard has landed at the Parrish Library of Management & Economics, it’s no surprise that she has been recognized for her eclectic skill sets and areas of knowledge. Recently, Howard was honored with ATG Media’s “Up and Comers” Award, which is “intended for librarians, library staff, vendors, publishers, MLIS students, instructors, consultants, and researchers who are new to their field or are in the early years of the profession.” This is the first year ATG Media—the umbrella group that includes the Charleston Conference and the Against the Grain news source for librarians—recognized a few individuals with the award.

“Up and Comers are passionate about the future of libraries. They innovate, inspire, collaborate, and take risks. They are future library leaders and change makers,” noted the press release announcing the award winners.

Howard shared more about her work and her love of “connecting people with information” in the brief Q&A below.

Q. How did your recognition in ATG Media’s first-ever “Up and Comers Award” program come about?

Howard: I was nominated by my colleague and fellow business librarian Ilana Stonebraker.

Q. Tell me a bit more about your background and why you decided to pursue a career as a faculty member in an academic library.

Howard: In 2011, I made the decision to attend graduate school. I considered going for my MBA and continuing my work in the business world, but was sidetracked by a friend who was working toward her MLS degree. This was a path I had never considered, but after several long talks with her, I determined it would be a great fit for me, as I have always loved connecting people with information. In the summer of 2016, I started here at Purdue as an assistant professor/business information specialist, which perfectly marries my previous experience with academic librarianship. I’m glad to be back on the Purdue campus after so many years!

Q. What are you working on these days?

Howard: So many things! This semester my time has been taken up with the course I’m teaching in the Krannert School of Management & Economics (MGMT 190), guiding student teams in the Soybean Innovation Competition with their market research, helping students in the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) program with market research for companies they are starting, helping organize and judge several case competitions, and helping organize the Purdue University Human Library. I am also doing research in the areas of change management in academic libraries, gender parity in academic library administration, social media use by Purdue students, teaching first-year management students about evidence-based decision making, and how the libraries can best serve first-year international students.

Q. As an academic librarian, what do you think are the most important information trends impacting the academic/research library environment?

Howard: I think the open access movement and data management are both areas already changing the nature of academic libraries and will only do so more in the coming years. Additionally, efforts to critically examine our practices (critical librarianship) are working to make our practices, spaces, and resources more inclusive to all our patrons.

Q. Anything else important to include about the award, or anything else you would like to impart?

Howard: I’m honored to win this award and need to give credit to my amazingly collaborative and generous colleagues. I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by such inspirational people and to do work that I love.