Alumni Librarians: Natalie Hall ’05

Editor’s note: We invited Lawrence alumni who have gone into library work to share with us what they do and how they got there.  Here’s another in a series. 

From the time I was a little kid, I’ve always said I wanted to be a cellist and if I wasn’t a cellist, I would be a librarian, but it wasn’t until much later that I realized I could do both. Starting at Lawrence, I knew I wanted to do the dual degree program and I wanted to work in the library. On my second day on campus, I went to the library to ask about a job and inquired politely every day until they hired me. I worked at the circulation desk all five years and loved it, particularly the late night closing shifts. I graduated from Lawrence with a B.M. in cello performance and a B.A. in English.
After Lawrence, I went on to Roosevelt University to get a M.M. in cello performance and again found myself working in the library. I had a part-time job in the music library and also a graduate assistantship that turned out to be mostly an orchestra librarian position. I spent hundreds of hours making practice parts and copying bowings, but I found it was a lovely respite from the stress of preparing for my lessons and performances each week.
Over the next 5 years, I built a successful music career, primarily teaching at the Music Institute of Chicago and in the Naperville school districts. I worked my way up to a full teaching load of 40-50 students per week and had enough freelance performance opportunities to keep me satisfied. I was proud of what I’d accomplished, but I was also not entirely happy with where my life was headed. I was spending 15-20 hours a week in my car and the pressure to be “on” all the time was exhausting. It didn’t feel like a sustainable way to live, but I had spent 20 years working toward this goal, so it was hard to imagine a life that didn’t have cello at the center of it. As I considered my options, I kept coming back to how much I’d loved working in the library at Lawrence and then later at Roosevelt.
I reached out to Antoinette Powell and Cindy Patterson at Lawrence, since I’d been close with them while working at the library and we had stayed in touch. They were both very supportive and just the boost I needed to make the decision to go back to school for a second masters and become a librarian. I enrolled at UW-Milwaukee’s School of Information Studies in 2010 and finished my Master of Library and Information Science degree in 2012.
Even with all of my prior library experience, it took some time to get my first post-MLIS job. After years of hearing I needed a backup plan if I was going to be a musician, the irony of having cello as my contingency plan was pretty funny. Eventually, I got my first job as a music cataloger at Roosevelt University. It was just a three month temporary position, but it helped me decide that my interests as a librarian were not so much music librarianship as I’d assumed, but cataloging, metadata, and technical services. From there, I got a job as part-time cataloger at Moraine Valley Community College.
Initially, I hadn’t planned on staying at Moraine Valley for very long given that it was a part-time position, but I quickly realized that it was a wonderful place to work. When a full-time position managing Technical Services opened up, I was thrilled and fortunate to get the job. I’ve been the Technical Services Coordinator there for about 2 ½ years and it is such a good fit for my skills and interests. As a department manager, I get to do a little bit of everything and have a lot of autonomy. It’s never boring, there’s always database clean-up work to do, and new problems to solve.
I’ve also been putting my former teaching skills to work by teaching two college courses: a graduate cataloging course, Organization of Knowledge at Dominican University’s School of Information Studies and Introduction to Cataloging for LTA students at the College of DuPage. I also regularly teach some short term continuing education courses for librarians on cataloging topics through Library Juice Academy, a professional development site for library staff. And, of course, I still play the cello, but now it’s mostly for fun.
It may have taken me a while to figure out this is the career for me, but it’s really the process to get here that made it possible. I think many of the skills that have helped me to be a successful librarian, manager, and college instructor are directly attributable to skills I developed and honed as a musician. For any Lawrentian considering pursuing a career in librarianship, I would encourage them to try to get some library experience before completing their degree. I’d also recommend while in library school to take classes in both reference and cataloging, even if you’re sure you only want to work in one area or the other. Some schools no longer require students to take them, but even if you don’t end up in a position where you use either routinely, they will still help you be a better librarian. And finally, be flexible and open to the opportunities that come your way as you may be surprised at where your interests and experiences will lead.

By Natalie Hall, Class of 2005

5 Things I Wish I Knew About the Mudd Library as a Freshman

Mudd buildingIn this entry from 2014, Lawrence student (now alumnus) and library fan William Gislason took the time to write another excellent post for our blog. Here, he imparted some wisdom he’d gained about the Mudd Library after he had spent much of his summer here in a student office.

5 Things I Wish I Knew About the Mudd Library as a Freshman by William Gislason Class of 2015

The summer before my senior year, I got to know Lawrence University’s Mudd Library on a whole new level. Amazingly, Lawrence hired me to build an iPad app for the trails of Björklunden— that’s right, sometimes Lawrence actually pays you! Along with the job, I got an office of my very own in the Seeley G. Mudd Library. After spending day after day in it, I’ve learned a thing or two about this building and I’ve come to realize that our library is actually one of the best places on campus! Here’s a list of 5 things I wish I knew about our library when I was a freshman.

1. There is a place for any mood
Whether you want to hang out with friends surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the first floor or have some peace and quiet on the fourth floor — there’s a spot for you. When serious work needs to be done on a paper, check out the study carrels along the windows of the silent third and fourth floors. When you need to meet with a group, try reserving the meeting rooms on the second and third floors (fully equipped with all you need to practice a presentation or write out a complex differential equation). Of course, if you just want to meet up with some friends while getting this week’s Italian homework out of the way, there are plenty of large group tables throughout the first and second floors always littered with groups of laughing students.

2. Movies and Music?
Anyone who thinks the Mudd Library is only filled with books is missing out. Every student has access to thousands of albums – new and old. You want The Beatles? They’ve got The Beatles. You’ll graduate long before you have a chance to listen to half the free music you’ve checked out. Of course, you can’t forget about the movies. When you and your “LUMOS” friends (Lawrence University’s Magical Organization of Students) decide you need to watch all 8 Harry Potter movies over Reading Period, you know where to go. And did I mention the viewing rooms? Let’s say you need to watch 2001, A Space Odyssey for your Film Studies class. You can actually check it out from the library and watch it away from the distractions of campus on a big screen TV!

3. Themed (Curated) Rooms
I’ll bet you didn’t know that Lawrence University has an Abraham Lincoln themed room where anyone can go to study and keep a bronze bust of Honest Abe company. How about an antique room devoted to the legacy of Milwaukee-Downer College that is filled with ancient books that bears an eerie resemblance to the library in Hogwarts (particularly after your Reading Period binge). And did you know about a small bare white room called the Mudd Gallery that serves as a pop-up gallery for a diverse array of art student’s projects. Within a week, the room will switch from delightful exhibit on typography to a grungy cavern showing beautiful, yet slightly disturbing, music videos for some of our campus’s rock bands on repeat. All of these room exist in Mudd Library and are open to students for study, contemplation, or artistic expression.

4. The Best Book Recommendations
The library is always filled with a plethora of librarians and student workers who love books. Each worker is surrounded by all genres of books and is bursting with recommendations about any subject. Looking for a collection of short stories? They just read a great one! How about a World War Two memoir? Their friend just recommended one. A book on how to write html/css code? They can show you exactly where all your options are.

5. The best part of the Mudd Library: FREE BOOKS!
Do you realize that throughout your four years at Lawrence you will never have to pay for a book? Aside from some classes’ mandatory textbooks, any book you want is free! Think of the possibilities! Even if the unthinkable happens and they don’t have the exact book you want, you can easily order it through Interlibrary Loan. Currently, I have checked out a book on the ecology of Door County, a book on Wisconsin’s geography, the film Wild Strawberries by Ingmar Bergman, and the novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (if you are also a Joyce fan, don’t worry, they have 3 more copies).

The Mudd Library can easily become anything you need it to be: a quiet study carrel, a meeting spot for friends, the hub of your cultural pursuits, or a home away from home. My best advice is to make full use of our library during your time at Lawrence. You’ll quickly understand why we all love it so much.

Are you interested in writing a guest post? Contact Angela Vanden Elzen with ideas.

Prepare for the Solar Eclipse!

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Simulation of the eclipse view from Appleton in NASA’s interactive web app.

If you’re as excited about the upcoming solar eclipse as we are, you’re probably interested in learning more. We’ve found a few awesome resources that will help you to not just enjoy the eclipse, but understand more about the science that’s making it happen.

NASA has put together an excellent website devoted to the eclipse of 2017 with all kinds of cool stuff. Here are a few of our favorites:

In anticipation of the eclipse, the Appleton Public Library is hosting NASA Ambassador, Bob Schmall, to talk about the significance of this event.

Want even more information? Gale, one of our database vendors, has opened access to three of their science databases from August 1st to September 15th in anticipation of the eclipse. The databases available are, Science In Context, Student Resources In Context, and Research In Context. In addition to these databases, they’ve also assembled some fun experiments, scavenger hunts, and more to help “empower you to participate in this rare event through engaging activities and up-to-date content.”

The eclipse will happen on Monday, August, 21, 2017. Remember- make sure to be safe when viewing the solar eclipse, and never look directly at it without approved eye protection!

Lux Reaches 300,000 Downloads!

People all over the world have accessed honors projects, issues of The Lawrentian, and convocations in the six years since Lux was implemented through the library.

We have now reached 300,000 downloads!

What is this Lux? Lux is the Lawrence University institutional repository, digital home to over 4000 scholarly and creative works of our students, faculty, and staff, as well as select historical documents.

If you are looking for interesting stories from student newspapers or alumni magazines, check Lux! You will find a rich and fascinating history.

Want to peruse recent honors projects? Lux is the place for you.

Interested in reading a Harrison Award paper? Studio Art senior exhibition artwork? Look in Lux. You will find these things and many more.

We hope you enjoy and are enriched by what you find in Lux! Let us know what you think.

Enjoying the Mudd from Afar

Are you a current student, faculty, or staff member of Lawrence University?

Are you away from campus for the summer?

Do you miss us?

No worries, friends, the Mudd Library is still here for you!

Whether you’re relaxing at a cottage up north, working hard at an internship across the country, or furthering your research in another country, we’re here to support you.

Here are a few ways you can use our resources, no matter where you are in the world:

You may not be here, but we are! Andrew explains our new ILL system at a recent staff meeting.
Login to our video resources with your LU ID to access thousands of streaming videos.

If you need help or have any questions, a reference librarian is on call throughout the summer, from 9 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday. Feel free to ask a librarian if you’re having trouble accessing our resources or if you have questions about using them.

No matter where you are in the world, you can still enjoy the Mudd!

Save

Summertime Mudd!

Summer is here and it’s time to enjoy the Mudd in a whole new way. The Library transforms over summer break, as most of our students are away and the busy bustle of the academic year has subsided.

Cool down and take a load off in the Kruse Room on the fourth floor.

Of course, you’ll find an industrious student or professor or two huddled around a laptop, but for the most part, it’s fairly quiet around here.

This peaceful, settled atmosphere allows our resources and spaces to appear in a whole new light.

Here are some ideas to help you make the most of summer in the Mudd:

Relax with our popular magazines.
  • Come to our coffeehouse sessions! This is a summertime Mudd must!
  • Enjoy the air conditioning while catching up on local, national, and international news with our large selection of newspapers or popular magazines.
  • It’s finally time to binge watch your favorite TV series! Or, some popular or classic movies. We’ve got a ton of documentaries and musicals, too. Browse the DVDs in the media center, or check out our streaming resources (You’ll need to log in).
  • Make an appointment to FINALLY check out the Archives.

    Board games are on the 2nd floor. We have video games, too!
  • Challenge your family or your nemesis to a game night! We have both video and board games for check-out, or, stay and play!
  • Wander around the building to appreciate our art. Pay homage to The Katie while you’re at it.
  • Find a fabulous summer read! Stop by our coffeehouse on Wednesday, July 12 for our recommendations. Or, peruse the third floor for the latest and greatest in popular fiction and young adult or graphic novels. Of course we have poetry and classic literature, too, as well as some really compelling nonfiction.
  • Contact a reference librarian and ask for a peek at some of the rare books in our special collections.
  • Soak up the scholarly atmosphere while developing historical perspective and appreciation in the Lincoln Reading Room.
  • Come and introduce yourself to the staff and faculty who call the Mudd home. We enjoy getting to know members of the campus community and this is a great time of year to catch us with a few moments to talk about our work, the library’s offerings, and how we can best serve our community.
Lovely art, natural light, and cozy chairs.

Summer is here and so are we! We strive to make this library a welcoming, comfortable, peaceful, productive space, and we encourage you to make the most of it, regardless of the time of year.

Whether you’re reading, researching, or relaxing, we’d love to hear how you’re using the Mudd this summer!

See you soon.

New Interlibrary Loan Software

New to Interlibrary Loan
As of June 30, 2017, the interlibrary loan department began using new software! What does this mean for you?

  • All in-process requests have transferred over to the new system- don’t worry!
  • Completed request history did not transfer from our old system. If you would like a list of your old requests,
    • contact the ILL office to have a spreadsheet generated and sent to you
    • or, log in to your ILLiad account (old system) by July 30th to copy your history from the All Requests option on the left side menu.
  • The new software makes it much easier for you to track your requests and request renewals. It also has a more modern look and navigation.

Contact our interlibrary loan department with any questions!

2017 Summer Coffeehouse Series!

Engage with YOUR library this summer! Enjoy coffee and treats while you learn about resources, Lawrence, and other topics to enhance your personal and professional development. All staff and faculty are welcome. We’ll gather on the first floor of the Mudd Library; sessions begin promptly 10 a.m. and last no longer than an hour.

Find resources and books discussed at our coffeehouses on our handy Coffeehouse Guide.

July 12: Summer Reading

Books are our friends! Introduce yours and prepare to meet new ones at this ever-popular and fun Summer Reading Coffeehouse.

July 26: Streaming Media Sources

Can you step into the same river twice? You can with streaming media. The library provides access to a number of sources for streaming audio and video; come learn about resources from our subscribed databases like Academic Video Online and from Lux, the digital home for the scholarly and creative works of Lawrence University.

August 9: Lawrence and World War I

The United States entered the first World War, which had started in Europe almost three years earlier, in April 1917. The war had profound and lasting effects at Lawrence. Enrollment plummeted as students enlisted; anti-German sentiment took hold; students were quarantined with Spanish influenza; and the college contracted with the government to host a unit of the Student Army Training Corps. Join Archivist Erin Dix for a discussion of this often-overlooked period of our history, featuring documents from the LU Archives.

August 23: Movement and Mindfulness in the Mudd

You’ve heard about mindfulness and the scientifically-proven benefits that practitioners enjoy, including increased productivity, improved concentration and mental clarity, heightened compassion and self-awareness, better sleep, and deeper relaxation. Join us to learn some simple mindfulness techniques and gentle yoga stretches you can do at your desk. The practice is simple. Showing up is the challenge!

Alumni Librarians: Evan Meszaros ’07

Editor’s note: We invited Lawrence alumni who have gone into library work to share with us what they do and how they got there.  Just in time for reunion, here’s another in a series. 

Libraries and librarian interests, responsibilities, and compulsions have been present throughout my life, from the weekends I’d volunteer for the Friends of the Library booksale in my hometown to the Borders Books job I held following my time at Lawrence. It was during that formative interim at LU, however, where I learned firsthand what an academic library is all about.

The first time I set foot in the Mudd was during freshman orientation. There was a tour being offered and, unbeknownst to me, the handful of first years who actually attended the tour were entered into a drawing for a prize. I remember how surprised I was to have won a gift certificate to Lombardi’s Steakhouse—the first (and one of the few) times I’ve won anything substantial in a drawing! The real prize, though, turned out to have been the work-study position at the Mudd I secured shortly thereafter and which would last four years, expose me to all manner of library operations responsibilities, and introduce me to a lot of great coworkers.

While my job at the Mudd was stable and abiding throughout my LU career, my academic pursuits were all over the map. I entered LU having done well in an AP Biology course, but decided to explore other disciplines (e.g. philosophy, history, anthropology, etc.) that I’d otherwise had little or no exposure to in high school. The mad dash in my junior and senior years to pull-off a biology major didn’t quite work out, so I switched to a “natural science interdisciplinary” major—a decision I’d happily make again. With the rich variety of science courses I ended up taking, I was able to sample from a fuller menu of academic disciplines while still ultimately getting accepted into a graduate program in biology.

Another work-study position I held—this one during grad school at Case Western Reserve University—was one that required me to organize and manage medical records, microscope slides, and patients’ tissue biopsies for a dermatopathology lab at a university-affiliated hospital. It was only when looking back on the commonalities of these library and librarian-like experiences I’d had, in addition to my penchant for “academic tourism,” that, after completing an MS and working for three years in a molecular biology lab, I decided to switch things up and enter the academic library world.

I couldn’t have done this alone, and I thankfully didn’t have to. Friends and fellow Lawrence alumni Steve and Emily Flynn stayed in contact with me throughout their time at the University of Michigan’s School of Information and beyond, providing me with much guidance during my transition. In the spring of 2014—and with the help and advice of the Flynns and other Lawrentian librarians—I was accepted into UW–Madison’s School of Library and Information Studies.

Fast-forward almost three years, and, while I’m still working on my library degree, I’ve had the tremendously good fortune to hold a full-time librarian position at my (other) alma mater, Case Western, where I’m a Research Services Librarian at the university’s Kelvin Smith Library (also since 2014). In this position, I support the Department of Biology, along with two other science departments and the Institute for the Science of Origins. My responsibilities range from academic subject liaising and collection management to reference and classroom instruction.

Learning the ropes of the academic library profession on the job while simultaneously taking courses in library science has been very illuminating. It also has its perks: when you’re a student, you get opportunities to apply for scholarships and student pricing on most professional development offerings, so conferences, workshops, and memberships are more affordable during this period than they’ll ever be. To any LU students who are planning on entering the library profession: take advantage of these! Even if you’re not working while you’re in school, you’ll still set the foundation of your library career through the networking and volunteering you’ll do. The people you meet meet may be your future bosses, coworkers, friends… or even significant others! (It’s true—I met my librarian-fiancée at the very first library conference I attended!)

As I write this, I’m a week out from attending my 10-year LU reunion. And after those ten years since leaving LU, I’d say I’ve finally found my calling—even if the message didn’t come across distinctly or coherently sooner. While I’d hesitate to discourage any Lawrentians from following their own path of self-discovery after graduating, I would urge them, if they’re even remotely inclined to the profession, to at least consider a future in librarianship. For those who have found themselves similarly drawn to libraries, learning, and helping others learn, the profession has a great deal to offer you.

By Evan Meszaros, Class of 2007

In the Mudd Gallery: A Fine Specimen

Currently on display in the Mudd Gallery,  A Fine Specimen, a show by Lawrence University student and artist scientist Lexi Ames. This exhibit features documents, illustrations, and bird skins. The origins of this fascinating assemblage are described in Ames’ exhibition description:

The Lawrence University Vertebrate Collection is a rarely seen archive of natural history, spanning over 200 years and housing some 300 birds. In the Fall of 2016, senior biology/studio art major Lexi Ames began learning the traditional art of specimen skin preparation under the tutelage of Jodi Sedlock, Associate Professor of Biology, and has since added skins of birds collected on campus, as well as digitizing and cataloguing the antique collection.

A Fine Specimen will remain on exhibit through April 2, 2017.

Update: The exhibit will now remain in the Mudd Gallery through April 4, 2017.