I am a 4th generation Washingtonian whose roots in the field of information science run deep. My father, a retired archivist whose career spanned 37 years at the National Archives and Record Administration and mother, a retired Technical Specialist at the American Library Association, Washington Office, provided the foundation for my interest in archival and library science.
As a young teen, I never consciously considered that I would be a librarian, archivist or member of the federal workforce. Even interning during my senior year in high school as a work-study student assigned to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), Government Division did nothing to persuade me that my professional future laid with this institution. No, I dreamed of being a drummer for the R&B group “Earth, Wind and Fire”(EWF). Although I never drummed for EWF, I enjoyed a successful career as a professional drummer working with Jazz greats such as Benny Golson, Buck Hill, Barry Harris and Larry Willis.
Growing my interest in Librarianship…
My first serious interest in librarianship began with reading about the life of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, a writer, historian and bibliophile. I was fascinated with his life as a bibliophile and culture keeper. I wanted to be a bibliophile collecting and providing access to information for all. Schomburg provided a service for many scholars and researchers, guiding them to solve their information needs. I began to understand that librarians collect and provide access to information, and help solve information needs.
While working as a drummer, I earned a B.A. in History from Howard University and later earned an M.L.S. from the University of Maryland with a concentration in Museums and Archival studies. I selected librarianship as a profession because it allowed me to embrace my passion for knowledge, research and creativity and help others achieve their information needs. I can remember the the letter I received from a student I helped research for a term paper. The student wrote that I had made a difference in their learning experience. It resonated with me that librarians make a difference in lives of the communities they serve.
Serving Congress through Librarianship…
Today, I serve as Acting Chief of Research & Reference Services at the Library of Congress. I was previously a section head in the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division of the Congressional Research Service (CRS), leading librarians who provide public policy research assistance exclusively to Members of Congress, Congressional Committees and Staffers. My career at the Library of Congress has included stints as a deck attendant, reference librarian in the Humanities and Social Sciences Division and an Information Research Specialist in CRS.
One of the most rewarding experiences of my career was being elected to serve as the Vice President of Dispute Policy and Chief Steward of the Congressional Research Employees Association (CREA) for six years. In this role I represented librarians and library workers on an array of workplace issues ranging from complaints of discrimination and harassment, to issues of performance and promotion. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been an advocate for my colleagues at the Congressional Research Service.
Engagement with the field of Librarianship…
As I continued to engage in librarianship, I began to develop a passion about core issues in our profession.
• Intellectual Freedom – My advocacy for IF issues began in high school when I realized that a summer reading book I chose, the Invisible man by Ralph Ellison, was consider to be a banned book. I became concerned because I was familiar with the Bill of Rights. I was also curious and began reading the banned books first. I understood we had rights to print and speak but I did not know someone could tell me what I could or could not read. I had read so much about how Slave Codes had restricted African Americans from reading and writing and began to understand how important it was be able to exercise my right to speak and read freely and protect the rights of others. I have been an advocate for intellectual freedom ever since.
• Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – When I began my career as a librarian, I noticed there were so few librarians that looked like me and eventually, I was the only male librarian of color where I worked. The realization that my work environment did not reflect the contributions people of color had made to this field, fueled my passion for diversity advocacy.
• Mentoring the next generation – Value for the continual growth of our profession is the mentoring and growing of the next generation of librarians. There are those that believe that students and new professionals are our future. I believe that students and new professionals are our present. We must engage, coach, champion and mentor students and new professionals to prepare them to move our profession forward.
Find out more about my previous and current experience serving and representing you: