When I started at Penn State Harrisburg in 2004, there were relatively few tenured females in the library system outside of University Park. While I received good mentorship (both formal and informal), I also took cues from science-fiction TV shows of the time that were beginning to cast women in commanding roles. In my limited off-hours between sprinting on the promotion track and rehabbing an 1830s side-by-side my father and I had bought, I collapsed on my living room couch and absorbed inspiration from the “small screen.”

Among my favorite characters were Kathryn Janeway of Star Trek: Voyager (played by Kate Mulgrew, 1995–2001) and Laura Roslin of Battlestar Galactica (played by Mary McDonnell, 2004–9). In the pilot episode of Voyager, a displacement wave hurls Janeway and her ship into the Delta Quadrant, more than 70,000 light-years (or 75 human years) away from Earth. While searching for a shorter route...

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