Drake University welcomed a new member to the Cowles library staff on Aug. 1.
Samantha Becker, a lover of literature and her nine-year-old dachshund Naomi, grew up in Downers Grove, Illinois.
She was first introduced to Drake University when a friend sent her information regarding the university’s recent diversity and inclusion efforts—a topic that falls right into Becker’s comfort zone.
“It seemed like a place that was actually trying to make some real efforts in terms of inclusion rather than just paying lip service,” Becker said. “I think diversity is really fashionable in higher education and everyone wants to talk about it, but I don’t think that many universities are actually trying to make strides toward it.”
She earned her undergraduate degree at a social justice school deeply focused on inclusion, equity and looking critically at social issues. Her experiences there greatly shaped the way she views her job today.
“I got brainwashed by a social justice school when I was 18 and just drank the Kool-Aid and never looked back,” Becker said.
As an undergraduate, Becker studied English and philosophy.
She was initially unsure about how she wanted to progress her professional career, but after speaking with her academic advisor, she began a librarian-related internship at the Art Institute of Chicago.
This internship led her to attend graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she completed her degree to become a librarian.
“I like to tell people that one day, I just found myself in library school so I decided I should keep going, and that’s sort of how I got there,” Becker laughed. “But I definitely think that I stayed because I got to meet and talk to librarians who looked very different from what I thought librarians generally looked like.
“I got to meet librarians who believed very much in librarianship as a form of activism and as a form of advocacy, and I think that they’re probably the reason why I stayed in library school, even if the way that I got there was by just showing up one day,” Becker said.
As the campus engagement librarian, she’s enjoying the opportunity to work closely with Drake students and talk with members of various student organizations.
Becker hopes to delve further into her passion for social justice and campus inclusion in this new position. Librarianship, she said, is crucial to upholding a university’s equity standards.
“I really view librarianship as working toward information agency and giving students
the ability to find and use information,” Becker said. “If you can’t find information, there are a lot of aspects of life that you can’t really participate in as fully.”
She wants to be the librarian that leads students into the incredible world of knowledge and curiosity—in other words, the library.
This world of knowledge, she believes, can equip one with magnificent life skills. She wants to open that door to Drake students.
Of course, a conversation with a librarian wouldn’t be complete without talking about favorite novels. Becker’s is “Nightwood” by Djuna Barnes.