"Even ten years after the fact, I still use the education I gleaned from LIS classes. From the knowledge gained from two classes in cataloguing, I can build relational databases and describe almost anything in most forms of metadata."
What is your job title? Who do you work for?
My title is “Director of Library Services”. I work for Brown Mackie College – South Bend. Brown Mackie College (BMC) is a “brand” of the Education Management Corporation for-profit institutions along with The Art Institutes, South University, and Argosy University. There are over 25 Brown Mackie College branches across the country. I also chair the BMC “Librarian Review Committee” – a group of ten librarians from across the branches that work together to discuss promoting good library practice on each campus. In my spare time, I also adjunct instruct an Information Literacy class at Indiana University – South Bend.
How did you get the job?
I found the job listing at a local newspaper want-ads web site and applied. Literally ten minutes later, I got an offer for an interview over email. The interview offer occurred three months after moving to South Bend and applying to at least eight other library positions around the city. The Dean advertising for the position did not know about the different library job sites; if he had, I don’t think I would have been quite as lucky securing this position.
What does your typical day look like?
There is no such thing as a typical day. The library I run is more akin to a “Learning Resource Center”, so we have a lot of people running in and out asking all sorts of questions. On a regular weekday when school is in session, our door count is about a quarter of our student body – right now, over 200 patrons a day, though when our student body topped 1200, we would get over 450 students a day. Many of the students I see are coming back to school after years of working in factories, so I spend a lot of time helping them get up to speed with computer applications. In between reference and computer questions, I sneak in time to catalogue resources, build LibGuides sites, teach, develop instructional materials for other teachers, write policy and self-studies, perform collection development, update computers, etc.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The “Aha” moment. Watching a student who has been struggling with a concept finally master and apply that knowledge.
What are you most proud of in terms of accomplishments related to your career?
Taking a space with a minimal working library and making it better than it was. At Ave Maria College, I built up a 100,000+ volume liberal arts library from scratch; at Brown Mackie College, I retro-conned the library from catalogue cards, moved the holdings to a new building five miles across town, and passed five different program accreditation processes with commendations.
How do specific LIS classes or your concentration/certificate relate to your job? Is there anything in particular that you’re reminded of regularly?
Even ten years after the fact, I still use the education I gleaned from LIS classes. From the knowledge gained from two classes in cataloguing, I can build relational databases and describe almost anything in most forms of metadata. I have also been teaching seminars on MARC and authority control to other librarians who did not get cataloguing as part of their master’s degrees. I use the knowledge I gained in collection development class to pick the most relevant resources possible on a limited budget. My one regret is not taking a course in instructional resources – I spend a great deal of time helping other teachers pull together presentations and instructional aids for classes.
What extracurricular groups and volunteer opportunities did you participate in while you were at WSU SLIS?
I was vice president of the student chapter of the ALA. I also took advantage of as many local library tours that the student groups made possible – these tours are great for learning how different libraries are run, and for networking with established professionals. Locally, I volunteered at my children’s grade school, helping to select materials for classroom use at the best prices possible (they didn’t have a school library, per se). A lot of school learning resource centers need as much help as they can get; volunteering time to work with teachers helps you gain valuable customer service skills.
Who were your mentors or had an effect on you as an MLIS Student?
Ken Cory, who retired from the program by the time I enrolled, was a great mentor. Most of the instructors I had at Wayne were great: Hermina Anghelscu was awesome for both reference and indexing; Gordon Neavill’s History of the Book class was a terrific background for working with rare books; Judy Field terrified me during the Introduction to the Information Profession, however, her experience and advice are priceless; I use the knowledge gained from Cindy Krolikowski’s Collection Development class on a daily basis; and, of course, Jennifer Moldwin Gustafson’s Humanities Reference Seminar was probably the liveliest college seminar I’ve ever taken, but then again, Jennifer & I grew up together in Lafayette Park, so I would not have expected anything less from her as a teacher.
What’s your favorite website related to the LIS field?
Probably Awful Library Books. When I need a good laugh, I’ll visit Awful Library Books, which displays a wonderful sense of humor often missing from members of our profession. Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner drive home the importance of relevant collection development. Most libraries have limited budgets and physical space; judicious weeding and prudent collection planning are crucial strategies to help maximize these limited resources. They also have a great “Will Weed For Food” page that highlights useful SlideShare presentations on collection development, professional development, technical support as part of reference, and promoting library services. Mary & Holly are both Wayne LISP grads who have become pop-culture icons: they’ve been featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live, All Things Considered, and in Time Magazine. Awful Library Books is definitely worth a visit and extremely addicting.