Welcome Ashley Peterson, Research and Instruction Librarian

Joining us from Tufts University, Ashley Peterson is a new research and instruction librarian based in Powell Library. Ashley graciously answered a few questions about coming to UCLA.

What goals/hopes do you have for this year as our new research and instruction librarian?
I've never worked for such a large institution, so honestly? A major goal for the first year is getting my bearings! I'm really looking forward to learning about UCLA -- its students, staff, faculty, campus, history, weird little insider-y cultural quirks. Concurrently I will be figuring out what I have to offer to this rich and vast landscape. My focus area within research and instruction/user engagement is data literacy and digital scholarship, which will give me the opportunity to meet and work with people from across the libraries and campus departments -- a good thing, since I'm a big fan of the Voltron approach to getting stuff done (many great people with different skills form one unstoppable super-entity).

How has your prior experience prepared you for this role at the UCLA Library?
I worked for five years as an access services manager, and then for six years as a research librarian at an art school. Working in access services gave me a deep appreciation for the often-invisible machinery of libraries, all the labor it takes to keep the doors open and get patrons what they need. I also supervised a student staff, which kept me in touch with the exciting and complicated reality of being in college/grad school.

Working with artists was an incredible experience, and it permanently shifted my perception of what research is, what counts as scholarship, and the kinds of things libraries should collect. In the past couple of years I've become very interested in alternative and technology-enhanced formats of scholarly output, with an eye toward making this body of knowledge more accessible to both researchers and contributors. I also take an expansive view of information literacy education, and believe that library resources are just one of many information environments we need to critically engage (hello internet!). This view will inform my approach to data literacy, which in my role I see less as wrestling with data sets (though I'm sure that's part of it) as helping patrons learn about how Big Data/machine learning/whatever the latest buzzword is deeply informs our understanding and experience of the world. Finally, I am enthusiastic about the role of unique/special collections in user engagement. I'd love to explore how access to these collections -- whether via encounters with physical objects or technologically enhanced methods -- might help researchers engage with the material aspects of knowledge creation.

What things will you be tackling first?
Meeting people, learning about research support and the digital scholarship/data literacy landscape at UCLA, and discovering good lunch spots.

What are you currently reading/watching/listening to? What do you like to do outside of work?
Recent book crushes: Ben Lerner's novel The Topeka School, Brian Blomerth's incredibly gorgeous graphic novel Bicycle Day (about Albert Hofmann, the inventor of LSD), Eve Babitz's Slow Days, Fast Company (definitely read this to get into the moving-to-LA spirit), Durga Chew-Bose's essay collection Too Much and Not the Mood, and Teju Cole's essay collection Known and Strange Things. I'm also a total sucker for autofiction by smart, neurotic women (Rachel Cusk, Sheila Heti, Renata Adler, etc.)

Recent movie/TV crushes: The Lighthouse, Female Trouble, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Los Espookys (a hilarious and deeply absurd show about horror-obsessed friends who form a business staging paranormal events), and Hip Hop Evolution (a FANTASTIC documentary series on Netflix about the history of the genre).

Recent music crushes: 75 Dollar Bill's I Was Real and Khun Narin's II have been on heavy repeat. I recently watched a documentary about the Blue Note record label and I've been listening to a lot of their mid-20th century jazz albums (also, that cover art!). I'm also a big fan of the vinyl compilations put out by The Numero Group -- it's hard to sum up what they do but one recent release is called Visible and Invisible Persons Distributed in Space: Speculations in Sci-Fi Soul. It's incredible, and the packaging folds out into a big golden pyramid...yeah, stuff like that.

When I'm not consuming media I like to go see art, make food, knit stuff, try to turn journal ramblings into personal essays, take walks that sometimes count as hikes, do yoga, and travel. I'd also like to eat my way around LA and am always taking suggestions. 

We are delighted to have Ashley working in the UCLA Library. You can contact her at ashleypeterson@library.ucla.edu.