JJ Pionke, Applied Health Sciences Librarian & Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), has been named to the 2020 class of Library Journal’s Movers & Shakers. His highlight appears in the May 7 edition of Library Journal.
Each year, Library Journal selects a group of ‘Movers & Shakers’, an award for which they select nominees who are “innovative, creative and making a difference.” Pionke joins the 19th annual cohort, along with 45 other individuals who are all shaping the future of libraries in various ways. Pionke was nominated by Nicole Cooke, Associate Professor in the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina, under the advocate category because of his “ability to understand the needs of people and reach them where they are.”
Pionke’s passion to advocate has resulted in positive outcomes for disability and accessibility on the University of Illinois campus, and he has worked with the University Library Facilities department to improve accessibility in library facilities. He has also created library resource guides on disabilities via the ALA Carnegie Whitney Grant. Recently, he secured a $25,000 University of Illinois grant to survey library and information science graduate students, graduate programs, and library employees nationally about how well they interact with people with disabilities and what kinds of training would help. After he is finished writing up an associated scoping review around various kinds of interventions in patron centered professions, Pionke expects to then “create a training intervention using emotional intelligence to improve how library employees interact with people with disabilities.”
Pionke is motivated to campaign for accessibility in libraries and by “injustice, unfairness, discrimination, and [his] desire to see those things eradicated.” Pionke takes a holistic approach to disability, interviewing people with different kinds of disabilities, and evaluating and comparing their responses in terms of both library spaces and services. He has written numerous papers on disability and improving accessibility in libraries for employees as well as patrons, including one on his experience seeking accommodations for CPTSD. He has also given multiple presentations at national conferences.
Such passion and dedication have resulted in Pionke receiving a variety of grants and awards over the years, including the Illinois Library Association Crosman Memorial Award, 2019; Arnold O. Beckman Research Award, 2017; and American Library Association (ALA) Carnegie Whitney Grant, 2016. Pionke’s recognition as a 2020 Mover & Shaker further acknowledges his tireless work to improve the support of diversity and inclusion in libraries.
When asked about his reaction to the award, Pionke expressed that he was “really touched that Dr. Cooke nominated me and then surprised that I received the award. The congratulations that I have received from colleagues has been overwhelming and I feel really thankful for the recognition of my work. In the face of the current pandemic, having a spot of good news has been a real highlight for me.”
The 2020 Movers & Shakers, along with previous honorees, were expected to be celebrated during the American Library Association annual conference in June. However, due to COVID-19, a joint bash will be held for the 2020 and 2021 Movers in 2021.
Some of this post’s content about the award was adapted from the Library Journal press release.