Where are you coming from?
This is a complicated answer. I spent the summer in Dakar (Senegal, West Africa) participating in a library fellowship program and flew to Madison directly from there. I spent the last three years in Urbana, Illinois, pursuing the master of library science degree. But I was born and bred in Los Angeles, California, off the 10 freeway, between the La Brea and Crenshaw exits, in a place known as “Mid-City.” So, I’ve got quite a lot going on geographically.
What attracted you to Madison?
UW Madison’s academic reputation, my residency program’s intentional design for professional growth, and the renown associated with the African Studies program all attracted me. Having been a student on a college campus for more than 10 years, I take academic rigor pretty seriously, and I am a new professional looking for opportunities to expand my skills. Moreover, we have a very vibrant community of people interested in scholarship in relation to Africa which is highlighted in the Africa at Noon series and the Africa Cartoons digital encyclopedia Dr. Tejumola Olaniyan is producing.
What would you like to accomplish?
First I would like everyone to know that I am very interested in the promotion of international collections: African, Middle Eastern, Latin American & Caribbean, etc. That priority will somehow shape all of my pursuits and collaborations. I am also very interested in my colleagues’ enthusiasm, initiative, and responsiveness. People like Trisha Prosise and Carrie Kruse have already reached out inviting me to participate in developing the Ethnic Studies Collection and having a role on the ISIP (Information Specialist Internship Program) committee. If anyone is interested in international librarianship or has mad skills with video editing, please come and talk to me.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I will always be engaged in global and cultural studies. That’s a very central part of who I am as both a person and a professional. In five years, I see myself remaining in the LIS field, likely at an academic institution. I hope that my writing will be a more prominent and valued skill in shaping blogging, social media content, and/or alumni/donor relations. I’m paving the way for that by contributing to Hack Library School and keeping some texts on my personal website, www.katleespe.com. If there are LIS blogging platforms here at UW Madison, please let me know!
What is the greatest challenge of the LIS profession?
Aside from the fact that the personnel does not reflect the patrons culturally, ethnically, and frequently generationally, etc? Aside from the fact that common parlance suggests that librarians are irrelevant? Aside from the fact that there appears to be a gaping divide between librarians and I-School/informatics/“big data” people? Aside from the fact that it’s no longer clear what technological skills librarians need to acquire to remain contemporary and up-to-date in our work?
What will your weekends look like?
I would love to sing in a gospel choir some time during the week, to dance to some good hip hop occasionally on the weekend, to eat some Korean kimchi, Peruvian lomo saltado, Mexican enchiladas, Senegalese ceebu jen all the days of the week. . .
What was memorable about your LIS education?
The experiences I had in engaging with the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship for Portuguese, Arabic, and African Studies was central to my experience. Cultural studies are my obsession and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to meaningfully pursue them alongside my LIS program
Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
I’m more introverted than you’ll ever be able to tell. However, professionally, I am not shy. I value our transparency, boldness, and confidence.
What would you like others to know?
I am African American. I’ve studied many languages. I respect many religions. I support LGBTQ rights. I am a feminist. Vegetarianism could be a future goal. Despite all this, my presence on this campus and my politics will not automatically resolve 240 years of historic, systematic, and chronic inequities and the contemporary, violent injustices we witness today. I am effective in diversifying the LIS field, but I am not the token solution to diversity issues. I am but one of a million steps on our collective journey to build and support a more inclusive society.
How can we collaborate with you?
International librarianship, video editing, blogging. Gospel choir, hip-hop dancing, diverse cuisines. Let’s start with those and see where they take us.