Welcome, Jimmy McKee, Entrepreneurship Librarian

Jimmy McKee

Please join us in welcoming Jimmy McKee to the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries as the Entrepreneurship Librarian. Prior to joining the Libraries, Jimmy was an Emerging Literacies Instructional Support Specialist at Cornell University’s Mann Library.

We asked Jimmy, who uses he/they pronouns, a few questions about himself and his plans for his new role.

What are your goals for this year as our new Entrepreneurship Librarian?
CMU and the Pittsburgh area are entirely new to me. So, perhaps at the top of my list is to explore. I want to engage with my new communities and learn more about the local cultures. Getting a sense for the area, its resources, and listening to folks talk about their passions (and difficulties) is crucial to me. I believe that being informed by the local community will, ideally, allow me to be a more effective facilitator.

Another goal is to become acquainted with the Swartz Center and Tepper School. To my understanding, a swath of entrepreneurial activities are happening across campus, across all sorts of academic disciplines and personal interests. (Very exciting!) I hope to begin tapping into the campus’ entrepreneurial spirit and building networks from the people I meet there.

In short, though, I like to say my aims are to help folks move closer towards accomplishing their goals, empowering people with tools and strategies to achieve success!

How has your prior experience prepared you for this role at the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries?
The bulk of my prior experiences were based in Access Services. I was in the heart of the library, directly interacting with our users on the daily. I spent several years as our Makerspace Operations Manager, assisting in launching and growing Mann Library’s newest public service point (at that time).

Open access to emerging technologies like 3D printers, virtual reality, and laser cutting drew so many people through our doors! I guided a team through its growth phases, expanding our staffing, equipment, expertise, and services. Our mission was to create a space that anybody on campus could have entry-level access to making equipment. We partnered with faculty for instruction, hosted workshops, and helped people, well, make things! This ranged the gamut from classroom assignments to people working on sewing projects, to startups doing rapid prototyping, and most anything in-between.

Perhaps analogous to launching a small business, I gained a strong understanding of what the process is to transform a vision from early inception into a sustainable reality. Arguably most important, years of working alongside peoples’ passion projects only reaffirmed my belief that any person can harbor an entrepreneurial spirit and the drive to bring their idea into the world.

What projects are you excited to tackle in your first few months?
In the first few months, I’m most excited to undertake my own ‘customer discovery’ process for campus. This encompasses things like researching departments, meeting people, listening to their ideas, hearing what struggles they encounter, and gaining insight to the campus community’s needs. I want to chat with and learn from my colleagues – what are they working on? How can I potentially lend a hand?

For example, stemming from that customer discovery process, one idea I contemplate is a podcast series which interviews CMU’s entrepreneurs! With so many different startups, project teams, and people, perhaps there’s an opportunity to capture and share snapshots of people’s unique entrepreneurial journeys. Or maybe this discovery process sheds light on a potential new library service that would be useful for entrepreneurs.

This discovery project is somewhat broad and open-ended, as it’s intended to help inform and position subsequent projects. But I do have some more tangible projects I’m excited to tackle. This includes developing a stronger familiarity with the swath of business resources available through Carnegie Mellon University Libraries, getting involved with our reference services, learning about collection development, and perhaps joining a committee. There are so many things to rapidly get involved with, which is a good problem to have when trying to pick what I want to prioritize!

What do you like to do outside of work?
My Top 3 hobbies would classify me as an avid baker, an outdoors enthusiast, and a gamer.

Several days of the week, I can be found baking bread or a cake of some sort. I’ve maintained my current sourdough starter for nearly eight months now and its name is “Doughnatella.” Maybe unsurprising, but The Great British Bake Off is one of my favorite shows to watch… I get enraptured in the realm of culinary adventures. I get excited trying new recipes.

I love hiking and camping! Since I’m new to this region, I’m super eager to start exploring the parks and surrounding forests. I used to enjoy canoeing on Cayuga Lake, so I hope to find new rivers and lakes suitable for casually paddling around. And locally to town, I’ll probably be biking most places, learning to navigate the paths and streets. As the weather warms, I’m excited to use my apartment’s outdoor space to build a small garden. My previous apartment had no outdoor area, so I miss being able to dig around with plants. (But I do have a sizable houseplant collection which I care for.)

Otherwise, there’s a decent chance you’ll find me at my computer playing some sort of videogame or drawing with my Wacom tablet. My lifelong favorite franchise is Final Fantasy, which with the very recent launch of FFXIV’s “Endwalker” expansion, has been consuming a lot of my free time, hahah. This also branches into role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. Essentially, I love the community aspects of gaming – collaborative world-building and storytelling, excitement from the adventure, and the inclusive, mutual support that many groups have! For me, it’s also a great way to keep in touch with old friends, now that we’ve spread apart and moved to so many different cities.

I enjoy other crafty projects like tinkering with electronics, making cosplay, and 3D printing, but those come and go based on access to equipment and how much spare room have in my apartment to take on a new project.