Curious to know what life is like as an academic librarian? Read these profiles of early career librarians to get an insider's peak into the career paths, interests, and experiences of librarians currently on the job.
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Name: Hannah Bowser
Job Title: Virtual Services Librarian
Institution: New Hanover County Public Library - Wilmington, NC
What library school program did you attend? University of Alabama M.L.I.S.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in libraries? I moved quite a lot as a child, and everywhere we went, the first thing we did was go to the public library. I appreciated the structure, the sameness, something that translated easily wherever I was. The more I learned about libraries, and as I got into school, I was inspired by the library's role in disseminating free and accurate information where and when it is needed.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to current MLS students? ASK FOR HELP. You never know who will be able to help you get that grant, or write that paper, or learn a new skill. The worst they can say is no, and librarians are historically terrible at saying no.
What excites you most about the future of academic libraries? As libraries seem to be facing a never-ending stream of people questioning its necessity, it is exciting to see the push back, librarians stepping up and proving what we have to offer. Libraries will never be irrelevant, as long as they remain flexible to change.
Please share the last thing you read (or are reading) for work and/or for fun? The last thing I read for work was an article on a day in the life of astronauts to prep for summer reading; for fun, I read multiple articles about Frances Glessner Lee, the mother of modern forensic science.
What is your favorite library association and why? I really enjoy the community of the GLBTRT and look forward to a long term of participation.
Name: Kalan Knudson Davis
Job Title: Special Collections Metadata Librarian
Institution: University of Minnesota Libraries - Minneapolis, MN
What library school program did you attend? San Jose State University
Why did you decide to pursue a career in libraries? I started out as an undergraduate in Acquisitions and Bibliographic Control. I fell in love with cataloging early on and had excellent mentors that helped me on the path to becoming a professional cataloger and librarian.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to current MLS students? Learn as much about cataloging and metadata management as you can. These are skills that will serve you no matter what branch of librarianship you end up serving in. Learn to integrate your personal passions with your library work. Special collections and rare materials cataloging draws on a wide variety of skill sets and disciplines. I constantly synthesize and actively grow my knowledge of book history, codicology, paleography, bibliographical description, bookbinding, and provenance as these areas inform and enrich my daily work.
What excites you most about the future of academic libraries? Right now there is so much churn and opportunity in cataloging and metadata practices. With the ongoing 3R Project to reconcile RDA with the IFLA-LRM model, many catalogers are planning on retiring. I am one of the youngest catalogers in our department and many others are planning on retiring soon.
Please share the last thing you read (or are reading) for work and/or for fun? The last thing i read for work was the revised RDA toolkit stabilized text. We are reconciling the RBMS Policy Statements (the cataloging guidelines for rare materials) with the new RDA text. I don't read for fun.
What is your favorite library association and why? I really enjoy being apart of the Association of College and Research Libraries' (ACRL) Rare Book and Manuscripts Section (RBMS). I currently serve on the RBMS Bibliographic Standards Committee (BSC) and the RBMS Controlled Vocabularies Committee (BSC).
Name: Natalie Ornat
Job Title: Humanities Librarian
Institution: University of North Carolina-Charlotte - Charlotte, NC
What library school program did you attend? University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Social Media: https://twitter.com/nornat
Why did you decide to pursue a career in libraries? I am one of the many who made the jump from classroom teacher to librarian. I was drawn to libraries by the opportunity to work with students and faculty on their research and connecting them to collections, people, or resources they may need. It's a perfect job for curious-minded folks! You never stop learning something new. I also appreciate working in a field that upholds such values as lifelong learning, access, and diversity.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to current MLS students? Have you worked on or will you work on any original research projects or papers during your master's program? Write up an abstract of your project and submit it to present at a conference or have published in a journal. If accepted, you'll already be ahead of the game!
What excites you most about the future of academic libraries? As the nature of student study habits change and university curriculum evolves, I think academic libraries have done an excellent job so far in adapting themselves to continually provide excellent services, spaces, and collections to users. If we can continue to be forward-thinking, actively inclusive in our hiring and workplace practices, and firm in our values, then I think we have a great future ahead.
Please share the last thing you read (or are reading) for work and/or for fun? I recently read a conference paper from ACRL 2019 titled, "Challenging the 'Good Fit' Narrative: Creating Inclusive Recruitment Practices in Academic Libraries" by Sojourna Cunningham, Samantha Guss, and Jennifer Stout. I am always reading something for fun. This week it is Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips.
What is your favorite library association and why? I really enjoy being a part of the Literatures in English section of ACRL. During my first year I was matched up with a mentor who was incredibly supportive and helpful.