The Fiat Lux is proud to introduce a new faculty member to the Alfred University family. Kevin Adams is a new librarian at Herrick Library and would absolutely love for someone to finally come in and ask for help with a project. We had an opportunity to ask him a few questions about his experience so far and what he's looking forward to working on.
Can you tell us a little background about yourself?
I studied Philosophy and History at Purdue University [as an] undergraduate. I received an honors degree in history after writing an undergraduate thesis on the Women’s March in Iran on International Women’s Day immediately following the Iranian Revolution in 1979. I then spent a few years working as a delivery driver and a server in a variety of different restaurants, which I really enjoyed. Unfortunately, the hours, pay, and benefits in the food service industry were not sustainable for me. After encouragement from peers and my family, I decided to get a degree as a Master of Science in Library and Information Science. In library school I focused on archives and special collections, marginalized voices and materials, and instruction and reference. While I did not write a thesis, I did an extensive amount of research on Soviet punk zines from the late ‘70s through the early ‘90s. Unfortunately, I don’t understand Russian, so my research could only go so far.
How do you like Alfred since starting your position?
I like Alfred! The university and the village are both quite charming. I found the summer to be super pleasant and quiet. Moving during a pandemic sucks, but it has sort of made the social elements of transitioning to a quieter and smaller area a little bit more natural.
What was your path to becoming a librarian?
I have always spent my time in libraries. From the time I was a kid, I was always eager to go. I even met my fiancée in the library. And, I really enjoy the academic research that happens here.
When thinking about the phrases "Fiat Lux" or "Outside of Ordinary" what do they mean to you, both in a broad university scope as well as functions of the library?
I cringe a bit at this type of branding, to be honest. But, the freedom and independence that I have as a faculty member really reflects the “Outside of Ordinary” phrase. With that, I have found the critical thinking and openness that already exists in the University Libraries to be fantastically welcoming.
What are some of your thoughts on Alfred University's archival assets?
To be honest, I haven’t had the opportunity to delve into the archives, yet! From the brief time I have spent there, I am impressed with the spaces and organization. One day I am hoping to learn more about the history of the land on which Alfred was settled and to learn more about the settlers’ relationships with the Seneca people.
What are some other alternative approaches to research, especially during pandemic conditions?
I am not sure I would call this an alternative approach, but many researchers have been using online databases for a while, and the pandemic has reinforced that pattern. I really like your use of alternative here though; something that I have been really interested in learning more about is how we can rethink research methodologies. There is a lot of great work being done on queering and/or decolonizing research methods. This work is so vital to undermining white supremacy and other backwards norms in academia, and I am really looking forward to learning more.
What are some things the library can do to help students that you feel like they're missing out on, or not noticing?
The pandemic is really wreaking havoc on what is supposed to be an exciting and inspiring time for students. I think a lot of students don’t realize that the libraries are open for them to come and hang out. We have our spaces arranged for safe, socially distanced use. I know it’s simple, and the libraries have had to change some of our services, but I want students to know that they can come and use the spaces!
By Andrew Wiechert