Alison Ricker

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Alison Ricker

Interview by:Melissa Cabat

Alison Ricker is a Science Librarian at Oberlin College. She has held this position for 31 years. She has also collaborated with other science librarians in Ohio to present a poster at the 2012 American Association for the Advancement of Science Meeting about digitization projects in the sciences among the Five Colleges of Ohio.

Q: What words or images would you use to describe Oberlin?

A: Friendly. Walkable. My home. Peaceful. Green. Thats all I can think of! I thought of Tappan Square, and thats where the peaceful and green came from. Ive lived here longer than Ive lived anywhere else in my life, so it must be my home. Ive always found it to be very friendly, and when I travel somewhere else and walk by people on the street, if they dont even look at me, Ill think, Wow, if I was in Oberlin, people would at least look at me and smile! I know so many of the people who work in the stores downtown and they know me, so its very friendly.

Q: How is it you came to live and work in Oberlin?

A: I came here for my job at Oberlin College. I was at a protest in 1982 in Washington D.C. and there was this enormous banner that said Oberlin for Peace and Justice and a bunch of students were holding up the bannerthis was when people were calling for a nuclear freeze, and I thought, Wow, thats really cool! So when the job opening came up, I was very interested. It just fits well with my idea of social justice and ecological awareness. Im a science librarian and I come from a biology major background with a strong emphasis in ecology, and I am very interested in making our ecosystem as healthy and sustainable as possible. I feel that Oberlin has that same level of consciousness, generally, and works hard to ensure that other people have that same understanding.

Fair trade products are a good indicator of sustainability.

It would be great to see more people adopting a vegetarian way of life.

Q: What does sustainability mean to you and what does it mean in your life?

A: It means making conscious decisions that dont hurt other people, other living beings, or any part of the world in which we live. For example, sustainable would be not just buying organic products, but also ones that were not sold to you through slave labor or underpaying workers, which means buying fair trade products. I think fair trade products are a good indicator of sustainability so that the whole cycle of production and consumption is done in thinking about how we are living on this planet and to ensure that future generations will also be able to live here and live in balance with all other species.

Q: What is your favorite part about your job?

A: My favorite part would be building collections meaning from print and electronic resources that help to inform and engage people about what I think are some of the most important issues facing us. Those would be understanding climate change, working towards a healthier environment, and understanding why that is important beyond just the economic considerations that some people seem to focus on solely, and taking a more holistic view. Its creating an environment for both learning and study where students, especially, feel that they are supported in whatever theyre doing as theyre studying.

Q: If you could look 20 years into the future, what would you like to see stay the same in Oberlin? What would you like to see change?

A: It would be great to see more people adopting a vegetarian way of life because I believe that our reliance on mass production of livestock is simply unsustainable. It requires so much water, so much land, and so much fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide use, so it would be great if we could all start living lower on the food chain. Also, the Green Belt vision for around Oberlin, I really like. It would be wonderful if that was flourishing and there were all kinds of farmers and other producers that were providing local goods and produce and that we were all taking advantage of that.

Q: Is there anything you would like to tell your fellow community members regarding care for the environment or sustainable living or respect for nature?

A: I think I would encourage us all to be much more mindful about how we eat, what we eat, what we wear, where those things come from, the impact that they have on the environment and on the humans that produce them. Those are the kinds of considerations that I wish everyone could be keep in mind. Not just mindful, but, you know and this is true of myself also able to live with my conscience much more consistently.

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