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Staff Spotlight - Ken Irwin

photo of Ken Irwin

Ken originally joined the University Libraries as web services librarian in October 2019

Where are you originally from? What’s your educational background?

I’m originally from Maryland, but I identify as being from Kalamazoo, Michigan. I started out as an English and theater major, but I got out of theater because I was enjoying the research aspect of theater more. My mother was in library school, and I got a job at the library. I was interested in it as a profession, so they put me in a few different positions. Then I went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to pursue a master’s degree in library studies.

What’s your title? How would you describe your position at the Miami Libraries?

My title is Web Services Librarian. I have always been a front-of-the-house librarian but in my last position, I also did web development. Informed by my experience as a researcher, teacher, and collection development librarian, the problems that I want to solve are fundamentally library problems. My hope is that I get to bring my experience as a teaching and public service librarian to the website project. Currently, we are working in the design phase of the new website, but once we get beyond that we can get into more interesting problems. I am thinking of how we can personalize web services for the individual user.

What drew you to work in a library environment? Why did you choose the Miami Libraries?

I spent a lot of time in libraries. I have been working in Ohio for 21 years — most recently at Wittenberg University. Miami University is a place where a lot of great things are happening. Between OhioLINK and Academic Library Association of Ohio (ALAO), I have had a lot of exposure to what is happening at Miami University. I think there is a lot of good work here, and it’s the type of place I’d like to be at.

What’s the best part of working in a library?

Librarians are pretty great. I like working in an environment where people are friendly, inquisitive and excited about learning new things.

What’s one thing you wish college students knew about using a library?

Not only can you ask questions, but it’s also a really good idea to find out who the librarian is for the area you are excited about and ask them how to go deeper. Even if you are doing alright, find your librarian and ask, “What can I do to make this better?”

What are you most excited about tackling in your new role?

I am looking forward to working on a dashboard project to personalize the user experience.

What’s your favorite book? What book character would you most like to be?

If I had to pick just one, I’m going to say, “Prodigal Summer” by Barbara Kingsolver. It is a fictional story of three rural characters who are in their own way connected to the biology around them.

Any hobbies?

Mushroom hunting. I love any excuse to get out and take a walk. I also like contra dancing — which is like square dancing —and board games.

What’s something people don’t know about you that might surprise them?

I still have a baby tooth.