January Member Spotlight

Darlene Johnson-Bignotti
Library Faculty
Oakland Community College

2019-2020 Community College IG Chair
What are you currently reading?
I usually keep two books by my bed: one that makes me think, and one that doesn’t. Right now I’m reading “Me” by Elton John, and re-reading “What The Eyes Don’t See” by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha (about the Flint water crisis). I think you can guess which book fills which role.

What are your research interests?
I am interested in instruction practices and active learning pedagogy, particularly in working with non-traditional students. Not all community college students become scholars; the challenge is to convince them that information literacy is a life skill they can use whether seeking information about a medical condition or buying a mattress. I am always looking for ideas to make content relevant and approachable, and keep students awake (and myself as well, I’m not a morning person!).

Do you have hobbies or interests outside of the library?
After fighting and losing a battle with Bermuda Grass we converted most of our backyard into a small scale farm and organically grow most of what we eat. It’s a LOT of work but the benefits are many (and tasty). When I’m not weeding or harvesting I volunteer at community events for my public library (Ferndale) and other non-profits. I also love reading, cooking, Marvel movies, and am an aspiring gym rat.

What drew you to the library profession?
My path to the profession began in 6th grade as a "helper” in my school’s library, but it wasn’t straight. I have a B.S. degree in Arts and Media/ Journalism (from GVSC before they became GVSU). After a forgettable career in the Detroit media I wanted out and applied to and was rejected by WSU's graduate school of English. Meanwhile, I took a sales position at a small company called Gale Research. Through my clients I connected with librarians of color who convinced me to pursue a MSLS. I started WSU’s Library Science program in 1990 where I found both my true calling and true love; my husband Ken Bignotti was also a MSLS student and is a public librarian.

What do you value about MiALA?
MiALA is not yet big enough to be intimidating, but not too small or new enough to feel like it’s not on solid footing. Looking at its growth in just five years, it's clear that MiALA was wanted and needed! There are many opportunities for leadership and engagement and you don’t have to have an “ in” to get involved. So, get involved!