Agents of Social Justice: Carolyn Gallmeyer '20MS on Her Passion for Libraries
Dean’s Fellow Carolyn shares how her career in nonprofits lead her to the School of Library and Information Science.
What sparked your interest in librarianship?
I was not only a bookworm but also a lover of organization as a kid—I had my own rotary stamp and would try to check out my books to my (uninterested) siblings. And maybe because of my early interest, librarianship felt like an unattainable dream as I grew up—right up there with being a ballet dancer or an astronaut. At some point I realized that not only was being a librarian attainable (I could go to school for this!), it was also a good match with my love of books, my organizational tendencies, my administrative experience, and my belief in the importance of community spaces that foster equity. It was more of a gradual realization than a turning point.
What lead you to Simmons School of Library and Information Science (SLIS)?
I’m coming to SLIS seven years after graduating from Bates College in Lewiston, ME, where I studied English. I’ve spent the intervening years in a variety of nonprofit settings: an extended learning day program, a community health organization, a public media station, and a regional orchestra. The past four years I’ve spent in nonprofit fundraising. After spending some time trying to strengthen institutions that I think make the world a better place, I realized that the setting in which I truly wanted to do this work, the place that combined my strengths and my passions, was the public library. So to library school I applied! I landed at Simmons because I read through the course descriptions and wanted to take every class offered. I’m in the Design Your Own concentration, which gives me broad latitude to select courses that align with my professional interests.
Tell us about your Fellowship.
As the Dean’s Fellow for Events and International Programs Coordination, I work with faculty and staff across the College of Organizational, Computational, and Information Sciences (COCIS) to plan and execute key events, like the annual Allen Smith Visiting Scholars Program, which brings visiting scholars in the information science field to Simmons; the event format is reimagined by a different faculty member each year.
I also support some of the programming around international SLIS initiatives and courses, like our partnership with Yonsei University in South Korea. Programming and events are key ways that public libraries connect with and serve their communities, and I look forward to using the skills I gain over the course of the Fellowship to plan great events in the library where I will work.
What are some of the biggest issues you're facing currently in this role?
With SLIS now a part of COCIS, which also includes the School of Business and the Division of Mathematics, Computing, and Statistics, there are more opportunities for all of us Fellows to be involved with a wider swath of the Simmons community than in years past. I supported the School of Business’ Health Care Forum last fall — not something I had expected when I started library school! But I think that the interdisciplinary nature of COCIS is reflective of the kind of librarian I hope to be: one who cultivates strong partnerships beyond the library in order to best serve the diverse needs of its patrons. This cohort of Fellows represent important roles that work well together — communications, events, diversity, media, and technology. I look forward to working with them and seeing what we can accomplish.
What’s your favorite thing about living in Boston?
As someone who grew up in the suburbs in the Midwest, I found public transportation such a delight when I first moved to Boston. My enthusiasm may be a bit tempered when walking onto campus after an hour on the T, but I’m still so grateful to live in a city that allows me to get around without a car. Public transit also allows me to live in Somerville, which is a wonderful place to be!
What is your favorite thing about libraries?
I love that libraries, particularly public libraries, can be agents for social justice, and hope to see the field continue to advocate for intellectual freedom and to combat systems of oppression. I aspire to work in a public library in order to promote literacy and access to information, and to continue learning over the course of my career.