IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Inside CU's faculty profile series
Our faculty are a source of great pride and bring a world of expertise, experimentation and excellence to our students and our community. Meet Deborah Fink, senior instructor and outreach librarian for the University Libraries.
Deborah joined the libraries faculty in 1980 as an instructional services librarian. Her responsibilities shifted to public information in 1990 and then to campus relations and outreach in 2002. She earned her Master of Library Science from UCLA. Deborah has published and presented widely in her field. She is also a certified advanced reading and learning skills trainer and an independent facilitator and author.
What drew you to your field of expertise, and keeps you passionate about your work?
Since my passions arise from learning, the opportunities I have had here to explore, create and continuously recreate myself have kept me in the same place, if not in the same intellectual space, for almost three decades. I have always been attracted to books (my mother claims I was reading at two years old!) and to libraries, where I experience a sense of awe and ease. However, I didn’t consider librarianship as a career until I worked in my undergraduate library and began learning that the field is far richer than I realized. Early on in library school I knew that I wanted to remain in academia, where I could teach and write along with providing reference services. My enjoyment of teaching and my love of learning led me to an exploration of learning styles and accelerated approaches for creating learning environments distinct from lectures. I also began to view libraries and information in a broader context that mirrors social issues rather than transcending or even neutralizing them. I recreated the library skills course from those perspectives and wrote a book published by the American Library Association as a national model. I created the concept of meta-learning with a colleague at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and presented workshops for librarians nationally. After my daughter was born in 1990 (she’s a freshman here now), I recreated my role in the libraries to focus on communications and later outreach via exhibits and events. So even though all my career moves have been lateral, I have advanced personally and professionally by following my passions.
What do you most enjoy and what is the most challenging aspect of your profession?
I still love being on a campus and in a library (even though there’s so little time to actually read the books) and contributing to learning environments. I enjoy supporting students and faculty as well as being a participant in “the life of the mind.” I appreciate the opportunity to add some heart to that equation by featuring aspects of our diverse culture in exhibits and events. I especially enjoy collaborating with my Net Gen assistant (now an avid library school student himself) and others on campus and in the community.
Librarianship today is not the same field I happily embraced in the late 1970s, and I am not a digital native. I would never deny or diminish the value and enormous advances in the field as a result of computer technologies, yet it is not the aspect of the profession I most resonate with. I am very grateful for succeeding generations of librarians who strive to transform what we do and who we are. I embrace the challenge of supporting and making way for them because those of us who entered the field before computers were ubiquitous and the Web was a way of life did, in fact, make the way for them to succeed and recreate us all.
As a result of designing and presenting workshops for teaching librarians, I discovered that I’m as ready to put on a workshop as early musical film stars were to put on a show! Having independently facilitated and developed dozens of interactive workshops in advanced reading and learning skills, I am now creating intra-active books and workshops for women who are experiencing the mature prime of their life as an adventure in the richness of aging. I cofounded Over the Moon Ovations, a monthly gathering of women in the second half of life sponsored by the Boulder Public Library. I just completed a manuscript, Harvest the Bounty of Your Career, which expands a tree metaphor to explore one’s roots, branches, fruits and seeds in order to appreciate and extend the benefits of a professional career. My husband, who self-published his multiple award winning book about end-of-life hospitalization, will be the publisher and the book integrates throughout original art that a local artist is now creating. I recently coined the term “meta-liminal” to describe conscious life stage transitioning and I am creating workshops and a book, Cultivate Your Inner Wise Woman, intended for other metaliminal women willing to live from their inner knowing and an acceptance of death as an honoring of life. I’m also looking forward to collaborating with a California artist on an anthology of women’s writings and art. I expect to learn, create and recreate for decades to come.
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