Name: Karen Wikoff
Education Background: 
BA in German, Wells College, 1986. MA in German Studies (literature), Cornell, 1995. MLS, Syracuse University, 2002. I also have a Conservation/Preservation Technician certificate from Cornell.

What was your professional background before your current position?
I started as a student assistant and then a library assistant in cataloging at Wells College, where we did a little of everything. I handled retrospective conversion and later did all the electronic resources and back-up to the systems librarian before moving to Ithaca College.

At IC, I started as the Electronic Resources Librarian in 2004. Then I moved up to department head, Electronic and Technical Services Librarian, overseeing acquisitions, bindery, cataloging, e-resources, serials, the materials budget, and personnel for the department.

I also did one season of women's professional football (NFL rules tackle football).

Describe your current position:
I have just stepped up to Interim College Librarian and am still learning all that it entails -- though, in a nutshell, it means leadership for the whole library.

What do you like best about your work?
The people with whom I work, at my library, at my institution, and colleagues from other places as well.

What has been your biggest professional challenge?
When I have been forced to let people go, whether for cause or for financial reasons, but especially when it's been someone I have known a long time.

How are you seeing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion play a more prominent role in your work environment?
To be honest, I feel it is a little unclear right now. It felt like we were on the right track for a few years, and then the economic impact of the pandemic hit. In the Library, we have lost about 25% of our staff, and are going to be covering 2 vacancies for a while as well. We are not hiring any time soon, which means we have no opportunities to even the balance.

But, of course, DEI is not just about counting the number of persons of color in your workforce. It's also about supporting the people you have, and making sure everyone is included, has opportunities, and is treated equitably. It's about examining our own biases and learning how to change and grow and be better people. All of this goes into creating a work environment where every person can contribute, feel welcome, and be valued.

What other organizations are you involved with?
I am the Chair of Our Revolution Cayuga County (formerly Cayuga County for Bernie Sanders), a member of the NYPAN Board of Directors, and involved with the CNY Poor People's Campaign. With my step up to the interim director position, I have had to put some of that on the back burner a bit.

What advice would you give to someone new to the field?
Learn everything you can, and go into your work with an open mind and an open heart. Value relationships with other people. Pay it forward when you can -- because good comes back to you eventually, one way and another. Take care of yourself, but be kind as well. Nothing good comes of being mean.

Are there any tips you would like to share that have helped you get things done particularly over the last year?
Finding little ways to connect with co-workers on a personal level really helped me get through the relative isolation of working from remote. I also made a point of sticking as close to my former routine as possible -- getting up and working out before work, dressing as if I were going in to the office, keeping the same lunch break -- all these things helped.

Favorite blog or website:
Facebook is my go-to site for personal, professional, and political interactions. I find stuff mentioned there that interests me, and then I go look up more details.

What are you most proud of?
Achievements due to perseverance. I grew up in a single-parent low-income family, and then I married and spent all those years on and off social services, but I never gave up. With a lot of hard work and a stroke of luck, I pulled myself up into a successful career. Many people work really hard their whole lives and never have the luck. I am grateful for mine. I think a fair share of my accomplishments have come about due to truly caring about other people.

What would you like to learn?
How to resolve interpersonal conflict which impacts teamwork in groups in a way that is positive and transformative for everyone involved. This is a sort of "magic fairy" wish, I suppose. ;-)

What are you most looking forward to doing as things start to reopen more widely?
I look forward to the day when the Ithaca College Library is once again packed with lively students, studying and socializing together in our space.

Thanks for sharin' Karin!
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