Cari Didion: Making Information Accessible for all Students
Governors State University Librarian Cari Didion has devoted her life to removing obstacles to students accessing information.
Her interests are rooted in science, having studied pre-med in college and taught elementary earth science, biology, chemistry, and physics, before becoming the principal of a K-8 school in Fort Meyers, Florida. When returning to higher education to earn her Master in Library Science in Librarianship and Information Science, Didion chose San Jose State for its location in the heart of Silicon Valley with the hope of bringing the most up to date technology back to students in her hometown in the Southland.
Looking to the future, she hopes to start a doctorate program in interdisciplinary leadership. For Didion, education and information are powerful and personal.
GSU Newsroom: What inspired your career change to becoming a librarian, and why Governors State?
Didion: I believe in and am committed to providing access to information for all. I came to this awareness when I was a student in the Southland. My father was a high school drop-out who was drafted to the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era. When he came back, he was able to take advantage of the GI Bill and studied education at our sister school, Chicago State University. He became an art teacher of students K-8 and taught over 700 students a year in Calumet City.
I saw what the power of that education gave him and wanted to be able to do the same. I came to GSU from Joliet Junior College. I heard all good things from our students who transitioned to GSU, so I decided to follow in their path.
GSU Newsroom: Why is the library key to a student’s success?
Didion: The library is a bridge to the content that can help students succeed in the classroom and ultimately in their careers. Being able to utilize all that is available through the library will help students connect the dots between what is learned in the classroom and the knowledge and research needed for work that is assigned outside of the classroom.
I would encourage students to not be hesitant or afraid to come to the library or to ask about what you don’t know. Librarians are information professionals who are trained to find information and are willing to help you. All that you have to do is come into the library and ask for help or assistance in finding what you need.
GSU Newsroom: Earth Day is right around the corner. How do climate issues and equity intersect?
Didion: Earth Day has certainly grown in importance over the years. Students have helped to bring attention to issues caused by big business and environmental sustainability. We also need to keep in mind that Earth Day needs to place a focus upon equity and diversity. Let’s look at what happened to people in Flint, Michigan or let’s look at what happened in our own back yard recently in East Chicago, Indiana. A low-income housing complex was built on environmentally tainted land where people were getting sick and ultimately had to be relocated. This should never be allowed to happen anywhere ever again.
For more information, I have created a guide devoted entirely to Environmental Biology.