Introducing Alexandra Solodkaya, Food Studies Librarian

Alexandra Solodkaya has assumed an exciting new role as the Library's first-ever Rothman Family Food Studies Librarian, as well as its liaison to the Fielding School of Public Health. We asked Alexandra a few questions about herself and her aspirations for this position.Alexandra Soldokaya in front of a bookshelf

What goals do you have for this year as our new food studies librarian?

I am so excited to join the Biomedical Library as the Rothman Family Food Studies Librarian and liaison to Public Health. I am most excited about getting to know the students and scholars in my disciplinary support areas. With the launch of the Rothman Family Institute for Food Studies (IFS), food will have a centralized home on campus. I will be working closely with the new IFS to support food studies researchers and scholars. The same is true of the Fielding School of Public Health. I can’t wait to get to know Fielding students and faculty better and to help connect them to library resources.

How has your prior experience prepared you for this role at the UCLA Library?
I have an academic background in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. I’ve worked in academic and public libraries in various roles. My most recent role, prior to the Biomedical Library, was as the lead for access services in UCLA’s Arts Library. In this role I helped students and faculty visiting the Arts Library navigate our resources. I also helped design tools to train students staffing our service points to better direct library users to needed resources. I am quite proud of the Understanding Misinformation Toolkit which is a collaborative project that I helped create while at the Arts Library. This toolkit helps anyone interested in teaching a lesson on misinformation design that lesson and customize it to the needs of their discipline/class.

What projects will you be tackling first? 
My first projects will largely be information gathering. Food studies is an emerging discipline at UCLA, and I am responsible for helping build collections of resources to support it. As such, I need to know what our researchers are studying and what their resource needs are. This is also true for Public Health. I’m planning some strategic outreach initiatives to help gather this info and implement it in our collections development efforts.

What are you currently reading/watching/listening to? What do you like to do outside of work?
Oh man, so many things! I just finished an epic binge of the Maintenance Phase Podcast. It was a really fascinating deep dive into America’s obsession with diet culture and how harmful it is. I’m currently reading Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss, which explores the food industry’s role in promoting unhealthy eating habits for Americans. I am also finishing up RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars. I rewatched the original Drag Race during the height of the pandemic and switched to All Stars when I ran out of OG episodes. Both shows helped keep me (mostly) sane. The last movie I saw in a theater was Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, which was just absolute genius. My current breakfast item of choice is an everything bagel in its honor.

We are elated to have Alexandra serving in this important dual role! You can contact her at asolodkaya@library.ucla.edu.