Ken Burhanna

iSchool Graduation Date


Professional Organizations/Affiliations

Association of Research Libraries, Academic Library Association of Ohio, Association of College and Research Libraries, American Library Association 

Current responsibilities/How are you using your information skills?

I oversee the University Libraries of Kent State as Dean. I also oversee Kent State LaunchNET (entrepreneurial firm focusing on innovative mindset development and student-startups) and the Kent State University Press.  

What is the best professional advice you can give?

Cultivate a growth, learner mindset. Always ask questions and know you are likely more wrong than you are right.  

How do you encourage innovative ideas?

Ask questions and encourage experiments. Put resources behind the experiments if you can.   

Do you have a mentor? How have they influenced you?

 I have had several mentors filling several different roles. It takes a village and it’s an active process. Mentorship doesn’t just happen to you. My mentors have influenced me by supporting me, showing me the way and listening to me.  

What do you wish you had done earlier or more often?

Forgive myself for my mistakes.  

How and where do you find inspiration?

Reading, writing and exercising outside — anything that helps me stop and reflect.  

To what values are you committed?

To be open, inclusive and innovative.  

How do you balance your work and home life?

Wow, this is not a question that can be easily answered in a few lines. It takes a type of selfish discipline that I have yet to entirely master. The pandemic has really blurred the lines too. At this point, the best start for me is not to check email after I stop work for the day and not on Friday nights and Saturdays.  

What are some challenges that today’s information professionals will face? And tomorrow’s?

Privacy of user information. The spiraling costs of information resources. Equitable access to information (Internet) for all. Educating users to apply critical thinking to the information they encounter. These all, by the way, are connected in an almost perverse way.    

How can the library remain important to the community?

By constantly responding to their users’ needs while maintaining the values of our profession.  

What websites, apps, podcasts, or other resources would you recommend to explore?

Scholarly Kitchen, Fast Company, Charleston Hub, and any number of library-related podcasts. You can easily find many on Google. A good starter list can be found here:  

What is a book you like that you have to defend liking and what is a book you dislike that you have to defend disliking?

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – liking 

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation – disliking 

Special thanks to the Kent State University iSchool Alumni Network for coordinating these profiles. Learn more about the Alumni Network on their Facebook page and group. Students are welcome to join and participate.

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