“Information is power,” says Emily Crist, library director. Emily was appointed Library Director of Miller Information Commons in December 2019, but has been at the library since 2016. She was Champlain College’s Experience Design Librarian until 2018 and has continued making strides for the library ever since. Emily recalls, “Early on in training [for the Experience Design position], I remember someone telling me that, from here on out, everything you learn is professional development.” It is this element of knowledge and constant learning that would become Emily’s favorite part of her job.
In the fall of 2019, Emily was juggling two positions: Associate Director and Interim Director. As the winter gives way to Spring, Emily adjusts to her full-time role as leader of the library. With plans and goals already in the works, she will certainly take the MIC into a progressive new era for Champlain College.
Emily’s toolbox is packed with a bachelor’s in Interior Design, a master’s in English, and a master’s in Library Science. She has taught English to undergraduates at Ball State University and to primary school children in Hungary, and now teaches research skills to students at Champlain.
“Librarianship is like being a generalist,” reflected Emily, “knowing a little bit about a lot of things.” Throughout her time as a librarian, Emily has found herself accumulating knowledge on topics she’d never otherwise need to research. From student research topics, she reports having learned about the role of hair in society and culture, the wedding industry in Vermont, how to market meal kits, and much more. The longer she spends at her job, the more she learns, and the better she is equipped to help students answer their own questions.
Questions are where Emily’s passion for her job began. Her parents kept encyclopedias and world books in their home and inspired her inherent curiosity about the world around her. Now, as a resource and mentor for students, she’s passionate about passing on this fostering of questions. Watching students learn to navigate systems, broaden their minds, and discover the link between knowledge and power is fascinating to her.
Emily’s latest question is, “What is MIC?” She thinks of it as a “hub of info,” as it contains the Library, the Center for Learning and Teaching, and the SMART space. She aims to build partnerships between the branches that call MIC home and encourage them to work as a unit. She also is excited to enhance the information literacy instruction program, pushing the limits in new and transformative ways.
Emily is enthusiastic about increasing the library’s attention to social justice as well. She is prepared to question policies of access that may exclude individuals, as well as reduce inequalities that exist in the system of knowledge production. Finding ways to decrease financial barriers to information is also important to her.
As for where the library will end up? She’s not ready to answer this question yet. She has ideas she’s excited to put into action but doesn’t think she can decide on the library’s fate alone. Goals aside, Emily feels as though she is entering her own research stage, gathering information by observation and engagement of the college, the faculty, the curriculum, the students, and her team. Since supporting these groups are her priorities, she hopes the plan will be a product of many brains.
Especially those of her colleagues. Emily stresses how inspired she is by their talents, how she is “constantly in awe” at all their hard work. She is captivated by learning in detail how the library functions holistically, and also about the individual roles each colleague fills with their own expertise.
Emily sees power in having room to grow. She does not see herself as an expert in her field just yet, but she’s stepping into the leadership role anyway. The key, Emily believes, is learning and listening.
“It’s easy to say I’m not ready or qualified,” Emily said. “I’m proud of taking risks and saying yes to the unknown.” Studies show that it’s common for women to be less confident in the workplace, or won’t apply for a position unless they meet every nit-picky qualification. It’s imposter syndrome’s ugly cousin, and it’s a huge obstacle. As a young, female administrator, Emily’s embracing her new challenge with a fearless heart and an eager mind.
And in that, Emily is beginning her Educational Leadership doctorship at the University of Vermont. She’s exploring her own leadership style, one that celebrates and values love, care, and community. As she continues to learn and grow as a leader, she’ll bring these skills into her target resolve of “building a library and a team that focuses on community, access, inclusivity, and justice.”
By Riley Earle
Riley Earle ‘22 is a professional writing major specializing in editing and publishing, a writing tutor at the Champlain College SMART Space, and the Marketing & Media Production Assistant at Champlain College Library.