I have been a Reference & Instruction Librarian at Oberlin College Libraries (OCL) since 2009, with expanded responsibilities for Outreach and Programming since 2017. While outreach and programming have always been a part of OCL's mission, my primary role is to ensure that they are done in a more formal and intentional way. I am
 most surprised by the fact that I've been able to forge close relationships with students that transcend the research-specific needs that bring them to the library in the first place.  As a generalist in Humanities and Social Sciences, I really enjoy the mental agility that's needed to bounce between many different subject areas. I especially love demystifying the research process for students, and empowering them to be savvy information seekers, consumers, and producers.  The "outreach-y" part of my job is going in a whole new direction, too, and extending far beyond the boundaries of Oberlin.
My research interests include the importance of mentoring in  information professions; diversity and social justice in libraries; improving access and preservation through digitization; and creating frameworks to help underrepresented people be more visible in library and archival collections, a topic on which I have also presented at professional conferences.
I am the editor of the book, Librarian As Mentor: Grow, Discover, Inspire (Mission Bell Media, 2017), and a contributor to Steven Bell’s edited volume, Crucible Moments: Inspiring Library Leadership (Mission Bell Media, 2016).

My path to librarianship was a bit of a winding road, but I know for sure that I could not have made a better career choice and honestly cannot imagine doing anything else.  My work as a librarian truly brings me joy. 
  • Mentoring and leadership development in academic libraries, particularly among librarians of color
  • Recruitment and retention of academic librarians of color, as well as their association participation and membership
  • Diversity and social justice in libraries
  • Blacks in American Agriculture since 1974
  • African American genealogy research techniques
  • Improving access and preservation through digitization
  • Creating frameworks to help underrepresented people be more visible in library and archival collections


I am currently investigating the hidden/unseen labor of outreach work in libraries.
        Johnson, E. A., & Vasudev, S. (2020). I cannot be the only one: Creating a community of
                practice for outreach librarians. Public Services Quarterly, 16(2), 124-129.
Johnson, E.A., ed. (2017). Librarian As Mentor: Grow, Discover, Inspire. Santa Barbara: Mission Bell Media.
Johnson, E.A. Blacks in American agriculture since 1974. Manuscript in preparation.
Johnson, E.A. (2015). Navigating choppy waters: Catalysts for smooth leadership sailing. In Steven J. Bell (Ed.), Crucible moments: Inspiring library leadership (183-192). Santa Barbara: Mission Bell Media.
Mitchell, M. S., C. H. Comer, J. M. Starkey, and E. A. Francis. (2011). Paradigm shift in reference services at the Oberlin College Library: A case study. Journal of Library Administration 51(4),  359-374.
Hooker, N. H., C. J. Shanahan, V. Rake, E. Francis, C. Popovich, & J. Dehoney. (2009). A technology-enhanced teaching tool: Tracking student adoption and performance. Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, 31(4), 963-983.
Francis, E. (2001, November 21). Chess yields valuable life lessons. The Columbus Dispatch, p. 6C.
Francis, E. (2001, July 4). Happy birthday to us! The Columbus Dispatch, p. 1G.
Francis, E. (2002, February 6). Librarian found career by accident. The Columbus Dispatch, p. 12F.
Presentations and invited talks:
Johnson, E.A. (2018, November). Librarian As Archivist in Africatown: A Grassroots Experiment. Conference presentation for Academic Library Association of Ohio’s 44th annual conference, Columbus, OH.

Johnson, E.A. (2018, March). Librarian As Archivist in Africatown: A Grassroots Experiment. Opening keynote address for Ohio Library Council Technical Services Retreat, Columbus, OH.

Johnson, E.A. (2018, February). Librarian As Archivist in Africatown: A Case Study. Presented at the monthly meeting of the Oberlin African American Genealogy and History Group.

Johnson, E.A. (2017, November).  Librarian As Mentor, Or: Why You Should Listen to Your Mother. Book talk sponsored by the Oberlin College Friends of the Libraries.

Francis, E. A. (2009, April). Reaping Benefits in the Digital Landscape: Ornamental Horticulture at The Ohio State University, Or: An Exercise in Overcoming Obstacles Along the Way. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Agriculture Network Information Collaborative, Beltsville, MD.