Meet the Faculty: Library science professor fosters student success

Meet the Faculty: Library science professor fosters student success

A nyone who has spent time in the library at Georgia College will recognize Kell Carpenter, associate director for access services and assistant professor of library science. He is a fixture at the circulation desk, and can always be found assisting library patrons, from both the Georgia College and Baldwin County communities.

Carpenter, a Milledgeville resident since relocating from north Georgia in 1985, graduated from Georgia College with a major in English and has spent his career in libraries. He served 18 years at the Mary Vinson Memorial Library in Milledgeville before joining the faculty at Georgia College.

It’s sort of appropriate that I gravitated to libraries; I grew up in one, practically. I can remember quite clearly the time that librarian, Mrs. Pitner, devoted to me then. I hope that I have been able to do the same thing for someone along the way.
 
Kell Carpenter
Kell Carpenter

While a career in libraries seemed like an obvious career path for Carpenter, having joined the faculty of his alma mater strikes him as surreal.

“I never in my life expected to have that role, nor that I would teach any kind of college-level course. Life throws you some interesting curves.”

A self-professed Rush superfan, and a lover of comics and crime/mystery novels, Carpenter’s commitment to Georgia College students runs deep, and the most rewarding aspect of his job is working closely with students.

“I love that I get to help them when they have questions, when they need to find a resource, just about everything.”

The library employs a dedicated team of student workers, some of whom stay on with the library for their entire time at GC.

“Those are really special experiences. It’s honestly like seeing your own kid grow up, find their way and set out on their own, “said Carpenter. “Even better is when they end up back at GC and you get to see how they’ve grown, and then continue to grow while working here. I really love it.”

As with any career, librarianship has its rewards and its challenges, and Carpenter champions compassion as a means to overcome any obstacles that may present themselves.

“There are always times when you have conflict or there’s a problem, and I find that sometimes the best response is compassion,” said Carpenter. “It’s easy to get wrapped up in what seems like a non-negotiable set of circumstances and think you have no power outside of that. Sometimes flexing those rigid spaces lets you give grace and opens up opportunities for growth and learning for yourself and others. I need to remember that more often.”

This mindset also informs some of the lessons Carpenter hopes to impart on the students he works with, both in the library and in the classroom. He encourages students to really dive deep to explore their interests and ambitions during their four years at Georgia College.

“I was not really sure I knew who I was in high school, or could even really do a lot about it. At Georgia College, I really found out who I am and how to be myself, and that made quite a difference in my life,” he said. “I was encouraged by some of my teachers back then to ‘find myself,’ and I hope we’re all still doing that.”