The Alternative Voices Feature is brought to you by the NMRT’s Membership, Diversity, Promotion, and Recruitment committee. It is meant to give a platform to the voices of librarians from underrepresented communities in the library field. The format of the feature is a journalistic question and answer format. It provides information that the librarian wants people to know about them, plus their thoughts on the current state of the field of librarianship.
Name – kYmberly Keeton, M.L.S.
Contact Information – firstname.lastname@example.org | (512) 974-7390
City & State – Austin, Texas
Position Title – African American Community Archivist & Librarian
Length of time in the library field – 4 years
Tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you attend college? What degrees do you have? What programs (undergraduate or graduate) prepared you for your current position? Tell us about your position and what you do? What is your definition of diversity, or equity or inclusion?
My name is kYmberly Keeton and I am a native of Fort Worth, Texas. I remember when I was an undergraduate my college professor told me that it was okay to have many facets to my professional repertoire including being an African American writer, artist, librarian, archivist, curator, and cultural activist. I graduated from the University of Houston in 2005 with a BA degree in English-Creative Writing with a minor in African American Studies. I also received a Baccalaureate degree in my major and an African Americans Studies Graduate Certificate from my alma mater. I began my professional career quickly as the graduate student coordinator for the UNT-Masters of Library and Information Science, Houston, Texas-Cohort. In 2014, I received my Masters of Library Science degree and Digital Content Management Graduate Certificate. A few months later, I began my journey as an academic librarian at a Historically Black College University in the Midwest. Currently, I am the African American Community Archivist & Librarian at the Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, in Texas.
I am unapologetically a Black woman who understands I work in a profession that does not look like me. In November 2018, I gave my first professional speech as the New York Library Association’s Annual Conference Luncheon Speaker. I expressed to those in attendance that my ancestors already paid for my Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion ticket during the Middle Passage, Slavery, Reconstruction, and during the Civil Rights Movement. I take pride in the fact that there are close to 300,000 librarians in this country and I am one 6,000 that represents the African American population in these United States. I believe that my experiences in life as a whole prepared me for such a time as this in my professional career. I will always be a Black woman and I will not pacify anyone’s ignorance or behavior when it comes to my identity. I have come to understand the human condition and my role in ensuring others that my abilities will always help rather and not hinder.
What is your current role?
I am the newly appointed African American Community Archivist & Librarian at the Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, in Austin, Texas (the state capital). I have the opportunity to document and curate the African American narrative through acquiring and processing archival collections, be a cultural fixture in the city through outreach, create programming and form collaborative partnerships, and design and coordinate exhibitions.
I provide public liaison activities including lectures, media appearances and interviews related to African American history. I work in the reading room as a reference archivist/librarian once a week. By the way, one of the cool aspects about my job is that I get to collect oral histories and manage volunteers that are all native Austinites!
How are you becoming or staying in involved with the wider profession?
I believe that for me writing scholarly articles, taking part in professional development, seeking out my mentor, and staying involved as an advocate provides continued growth for my professional journey.
What groups or roundtables are you involved in with ALA?
Currently, I have been nominated to serve as an ALA Councilor-At-Large and would like your vote! In like manner, I am the 2018-2019 ACRL African American Studies Librarians Interest Group Convener. I serve on numerous committees in ALA and ACRL. I take pride in collaborating with my colleagues and helping push the profession to a higher level through committee work.
What knowledge would you like to impart on your colleagues?
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” – Audre Lorde
What advice would you give to new librarians from underrepresented groups?
Be diligent about professional development and attending conferences. Start volunteering on committees early and above all else have two or more mentors.
Is there anything more that you would like to see NMRT or ALA as a whole do as a method to ensure the promotion of diversity and alternative voices?
A digital working-toolkit about the promotion of diversity and alternative voices based on the NMRT roundtable/section would be nice! Remember to give me credit whenever this happens. 🙂
Do you feel that you experience microaggressions or microinvalidations in the workplace (whether from colleagues or patrons) and how do you respond to them?
Keeton, k. (2018). Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in Librarianship & Archives: Creating Professional Narratives through Autobiography, Documentation, and Image. The New York Library Association 2018 Annual Conference. Keynote Luncheon Address. Rochester, New York. https://tinyurl.com/kKeetonspeech
What suggestions do you have to help other librarians make sure that their library is open and accessible to everyone?
Outreach is a major part of what we should be doing as librarians in the community. It has helped a lot in my current appointment and a part of my job description. Building relationships with community leaders, cultural leaders, and residents are the first approach to having a successful library, program, or department.
As it pertains to archives, I believe that you have a plethora of digital tools to get the word out about your collections and all mediums should be used in this case and partnering with other like-minded institutions to host interactive events, talks, and workshops are key.
What trends are most impacting the field right now?
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion | Digital Libraries | Archives | Libraries as Spaces | Information Literacy in the Digital Age
If you had to attribute your success to one skill or trait, what would it be?
I am a confident woman that knows who she is and what she wants.
Do you have a blog/website?
My Digital Platform:
Professional Website: www.kreativeyoungmillionaire.met
Digital African American Art Library: www.artlibrarydeco.space
Online Hip Hop Lib Guide: www.hiphoplibguide.xyz
- Keeton, k. (2019). Creating African American G.L.A.M. Space with Collaborative Support from the Friends of the Missouri Governor’s Mansion. Libraries and Nonprofits: Collaboration for the Public Good, (pp. 1-4). Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press/Litwin Books, LLC.
- Keeton, k. (2018). Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in Librarianship & Archives: Creating Professional Narratives through Autobiography, Documentation, and Image. The New York Library Association 2018 Annual Conference. Rochester, New York. Keynote Luncheon Address. https://tinyurl.com/kKeetonspeech
- Keeton, k. (2018). African American Glam in Missouri: Creating a Successful Art Programming – Incubator Space at a Historically Black College Academic Library. The Relevant Library Essays on Adapting to Changing Needs, (pp. 119 -125). Jefferson: McFarland.
- Keeton, k. (2018). Biographical Sketch of Josephine Beall Willson Bruce, 1853-1923, forthcoming online in Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000, at http://wass.alexanderstreet.com.
- Keeton, k. (2018). Biographical Sketch of Fannie Hagen Emanuel, 1871-1934, forthcoming online in Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000, at http://wass.alexanderstreet.com.
- Keeton, k. (2017). The Electric Life of Prince Rogers Nelson. Journal of African American Studies, 21(3), pp.528-532. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12111-017-9378-0
- Keeton, k. (2017). The remix: Hip Hop Information Literacy Pedagogy in the 21st Century. Librarians with spines: information agitators in an age of stagnation, (pp. 111-119). Los Angeles, CA: HINCHAS Press.
- Keeton, k. (2016). Hip Hop Librarianship: Leaders of the New School, A Comprehensive Bibliography. https://hiphoplibrarianship.wordpress.com/