kYmberly Keeton | Movers & Shakers 2020–Innovators

Her job description involves curating and preserving African American history in the Austin area, but kYmberly Keeton goes well beyond that. She leads genealogy workshops to help African Americans trace their roots and organizes public forums that bring African American history to life for area residents and connect them with a sense of identity.

Sidsel Bech-Petersen

CURRENT POSITION

African American Community Archivist and Librarian, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, TX

DEGREE

MLS, University of North Texas, 2014

HONORS

Civic Futures Award, Central Texas, 2019; AT&T Aspire to Tech Scholarship Recipient, 2017

FOLLOW

kymizsofly (Instagram); library.austintexas.gov/ahc/growingy
ourroots
; artlibrarydeco.space; kreativeyoungmillionaire.net

Photo by Gene Smirnov

Rooted in Community

Her job description involves curating and preserving African American history in the Austin area, but kYmberly Keeton goes well beyond that. She leads genealogy workshops to help African Americans trace their roots and organizes public forums that bring African American history to life for area residents and connect them with a sense of identity.

"Archivists were traditionally behind the scenes, but a 21st century librarian is in front of the scenes," she says. "We’re more embedded within our community."

When she arrived in Austin in 2018, Keeton learned about the impact gentrification has had on the city’s demographics, forcing many African American families out to surrounding communities. She has made it her mission to preserve the legacy of these families and their contributions to Austin’s history.

As founder and curator of ART | library deco, an online African American digital art library, Keeton brings an entrepreneurial spirit to her work. With small grants from area organizations, she organized an inaugural statewide genealogy conference at Austin Central Library. This free event, Growing Your Roots, was held in early 2020, and had more than 500 participants.

Keeton draws inspiration from Martin Luther King’s "Drum Major Instinct" speech and its call to service: "I want you to be first in love. I want you to be first in moral excellence. I want you to be first in generosity."

"I hope to be thought of as a person who is unselfish and always thinks about others," says Keeton. 

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Carolyn Thibodeaux

This article creates an abundance of joy in my heart, it's unexplainable. I can truly say the very first time I met MS Keeton @ a TLA conference hosting a meeting for Dr Cleveland, of TLA our spirits connected. She was so enthusiastic about life/her career it was tangible, and I knew I needed her young vibrant personality in my life and I would attempt to share nuggets of wisdom. The view I've observerd her from, success would be obvious and I'm looking forward to continue to watch her soar and take others with her, if you can keep up with her fierce energy. I'm hoping to introduce her to the Southeast TX area in the near future.
Thanks to all who made this article a reality.
CT

Posted : Jul 13, 2020 05:03


Eva Vanbeek

You are gifted and talented and I admire your passion for what you do. Your work is a credit to the Austin community and recognized for its value. Be blessed.

Posted : May 05, 2020 05:02


RELATED 

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

Get access to 8000+ annual reviews of books, ebooks, and more

As low as $13.50/month