Category: Alumni

Alumni Librarians: Beth Carpenter ’10

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.

When I arrived at Lawrence in the fall of 2006, I knew that I wanted to work in the campus library – it was one of my first stops during Welcome Week. From that moment on, the Mudd became an integral part of my Lawrence experience.

Attending a small liberal arts college meant that I had the chance to get to know the faculty and staff of the college on a more personal level, outside of the classroom. The library was a place where I feel I took advantage of that most, and I found role models in the reference librarians and circulation staff that I interacted with every day.

I knew I wanted to work in libraries early on, but there was one particular reference librarian (who can remain nameless to avoid embarrassment) who truly cemented the desire to be a college librarian in my mind. She truly embodies what a librarian should be, in my mind – full of a willingness to help anyone, knowledgeable about a wide range of topics (and willing to research anything she didn’t know), and an advocate for the library and its services. Other librarians and staff of the library gave their time an energy to teach me things like basic cataloging, or reserve procedures, things that all helped me on my journey towards librarianship.

Working at the Mudd gave me the direction and focus I needed going into my graduate program at Indiana University Bloomington. It was valuable for me to go to such a large school (about twenty times the size of Lawrence) to be able to compare library environments. In graduate school, I worked at three different libraries across the campus, all giving me a variety of experience in circulation and reference work.

I currently am the Liberal Arts Librarian at Bethany College in West Virginia. As glamorous as it sounds, part of the reason for the title is so that I’m not tied to any particular job within the library, which I actually love. I was hired for my experience in cataloging and working with student employees, but my role has grown to encompass our website maintenance, serials management and event planning. Occasionally I also get the opportunity to do some library instruction. I think the advantage of working at a small liberal arts college (and Bethany is particularly small – we have three full-time librarians and a part-time archivist) is that I get to do different things every day – when I’m tired of one project, I can work on another one (luckily, I also learned time management and prioritizing assignments at Lawrence).

If I have any advice for students looking into going for an MLS/MLIS degree, it’s that they should make sure they find a program with opportunities to learn and practice instruction, because that’s becoming an increasingly important part of academic librarianship. Also while in graduate school, make sure to get as much work experience as possible, because it is those jobs that will help bolster your resume. More often than not, those libraries are used to hiring graduate students and will help you mold the job into what you want or need it to be – I went from a reserves assistant to a circulation supervisor and reserves co-coordinator in one position because that library allowed me to grow the role I was hired for.

The best thing to know about libraries is that working in them is never going to be what you expect, but it will always be rewarding, if you have an open mind about whatever is going to come your way. I never would’ve anticipated living in small-town West Virginia, but after a year and half, I’m not sure there’s another job out there that would suit me quite as well!

By Beth Carpenter, Class of 2010

Alumni Librarians: Wendy Pradt Lougee ’72

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.
Lougee_photo

From liberal arts context to a research institution in 40 years… my career has been an interesting journey, reflecting some of the seismic changes in information, publishing, and technology.  I wish I could convey that I heard a clear call to librarianship when I graduated from Lawrence in 1972 with an English major (and good liberal arts education). Rather, an older sister (also English major) was a librarian with Time Warner in New York, and her experiences helping with research for reporters around the globe sounded appealing. Perhaps, too, the focus on sound skills in inquiry and writing that Lawrence embraced had an impact in selecting a career path. Diploma in hand, I headed to UW-Madison for its library science masters program.

A year later, post-UW grad school, found me working at the University of Minnesota in the South Asian Library, unprepared for the diverse languages and narrow focus.  Since academic librarianship seemed an interesting arena, I returned to graduate school in psychology at the University of Minnesota, considering a future as a psychology specialist within a university library. The next stages of my career took me first to another small liberal arts college (Wheaton College in Massachusetts) and then to Brown University Library, where I developed collections and supported faculty in social science disciplines.

A recruitment call from University of Michigan launched the research university chapter in my career and introduced me to university administration, first as an Assistant to the University Library Director (an intern type role) and later as Director of the Graduate (main) Library.  In the early 1990’s when campuses were wrestling with the early promise of distributed computing, I had the unique opportunity to launch a fledgling digital library program, an endeavor to seize the opportunities that technology afforded for information delivery and for developing digital content and programs.  It was a heady time, and Michigan took an early lead in the international arena of digital information initiatives.  Projects ensued to digitize books and journals, create retrieval systems, address diverse needs ranging from art images to biological specimen collections, and much more — often in partnership with other institutions and fueled by many grants.  Concurrently, the commercial publishing world began to dramatically step up its development of digital publication, and I oversaw the policy, infrastructure, and service dimensions of acquiring and delivering digital content at Michigan.  The experience was expansive and challenging and brought national recognition for our pioneering work.

In 2002, I headed to another U of M, back to University of Minnesota as University Librarian and McKnight Presidential Professor, overseeing a system of 14 libraries, historically rich collections, and a very large distributed staff.  Here, too, the burgeoning digital environment grew dramatically, and we’ve been recognized for innovative technology programs and service models that support digital data intensive research and learning/teaching that employs online digital content and tools.

An increasing imperative for academic libraries is to work collectively with other institutions to realize models to share resources and to gain efficiency in serving our individual campuses.  I’ve been deeply engaged in these trends within the Big 10 academic consortium known as the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and more broadly.  I’ve been privileged, too, to serve on various national boards: the Council on Library and Information Resources, the Digital Library Federation, the HathiTrust, and Association of Research Libraries.   All of these organizations address the knowledge environment writ large – that is, far more than physical collections and place-based services that used to define bricks and mortar libraries.

Back in the 1970’s when I left Lawrence, could I imagine leading a large library organization and working within complex consortia to address mutual interests? The answer is quite simply, no.  Yet, I believe the investments made in those years at Lawrence to nurture a strong liberal arts background, to gain perspective on social issues, and to imagine roles of global citizenship provided an energizing start to a career in the “knowledge business.”   I consider libraries a critical player in the knowledge environment of higher education, and I’ve been fortunate to be engaged in leadership roles within that context.

Wendy Pradt Lougee
University Librarian
McKnight Presidential Professor
University of Minnesota

Remembering the Humor of Fred Sturm

Fred SturmAll of us in the library were sad to hear of the passing of Fred Sturm, Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies and Improvisational Music. What Music Librarian Antoinette Powell remembers most about him is his sense of humor.

“Besides being an educator, composer and arranger, Fred was fun and he wasn’t afraid to display it in any setting.  There was the time he and Mark Urness signed up for the wedding registry on Amazon because they thought it would be a good place to let me know what CDs they wanted the library to buy.”

Professor Sturm was even able to transform something as dull as meeting minutes into something entertaining, in his Old West interpretation of a Conservatory Planning Committee meeting:

Conservatory Sodbusters Meetin’

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Present:  Marshal Black Bart Pertl, Sheriff Wyatt Stannard, “Dances With Wolves” Ament, Sundance Dreher, Hoss Sturm, Calamity Gu, Rowdy Jordheim, Annie Oakley Powell

I. Selection of recording secretary – Ah reckon it’s time fer me to put down the ol’ jug and start doin’ me some writin’

II. Approval of April 21, 2009 minutes – Black Bart threatened to shoot us all dead if we didn’t approve the gol-danged things.

III. Admission report Dances With Wolves Ament and his posse rounded up 87 flea bitten no good mule headed varmints.

IV. Swine Flu update  Black Bart said we gotta stop takin’ baths together on Saturday nights, stop steppin’ in cowpies, an’ quit chewin’ tobacckie or Doc Holliday’s gonna shoot us all dead.

V. Commencement Concert length Wyatt Earp Stannard’s tired of all that catterwallin’ and lollygaggin’ and said he’d hang anybody that dances on stage fer more’n 8 minutes.

VI. Signage on College Avenue You tenderfoots oughta be doin’ what I got planned down in Texas – Ah’m plannin’ to brand little dogies with promo like “Texas Tech’s OK Chorale 2-Night!!” and stampede through downtown Lubbock. Moooo!!

Meeting adjourned at high noon.WEE-HAH!!!, Rooster Cogburn Bjella 5.21.09

To read more stories, or to share your own, the university has set up a webpage dedicated to Professor Sturm remembrances. We’ve also set up a display in the library highlighting some of his accomplishments.

“Strength through Union:” Exploring the Consolidation 50 Years Later

A group of Milwaukee-Downer College students and faculty who transferred to Lawrence with the consolidation in the fall of 1964.
A group of Milwaukee-Downer College students and faculty who transferred to Lawrence with the consolidation in the fall of 1964.

If you know a bit about Lawrence history, surely you know about the consolidation between Milwaukee-Downer College and Lawrence College back in 1964. While the fact that it took place is common knowledge, not many know about the events leading up to the consolidation and why it took place.

Over reunion weekend, our Archivist, Erin Dix ’08, gave an excellent presentation about this consolidation- including how it continues to shape Lawrence University’s present and future.  She will be reprising this presentation on Wednesday, July 23rd at 10 a.m. in the Mudd Library. All are welcome and encouraged to come and learn about this fascinating period in Lawrence’s history. Coffee and snacks will be provided.

Update: Did you miss the presentation or interested to learn more? Take a look at our guide for more information and a video of the presentation from Alumni Weekend.

Collection of Indian Rabari Objects on Display

Currently on display in the library display cases is a beautiful collection of ornate textiles and other handcrafted objects made by the Rabari people of India. This eye-catching display was curated by Beth Zinsli and Leslie Walfish of the Wriston Galleries.

The objects are a selection from the larger Judy Frater, ’74 Collection of Indian Rabari Objects. The collection was assembled by Lawrence alumna Judy Frater during her travels in India, and later curated by her into a traveling exhibit. This exhibit was donated to Lawrence by Ms. Frater and displayed in the Wriston Galleries in 1987.

In her original traveling exhibit notes, Ms. Frater describes the culture from which these objects were created:

The Rabaris are an ancient nomadic people who slowly migrated from Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent around twelve centuries ago… One of these groups, the Kachi Rabaris, lives in the desert Kutch. Kachis are herders of goats and sheep and are semi-nomadic. In their leisure time the women make mirrored embroideries for their childrens’ dress and their daughters’ dowries. Embroidery is a part of their way of life.

Judy Frater is author of the book, Threads of Identity: Embroidery and Adornment of the Nomadic Rabaris and has extensively researched the art of Indian textiles and crafts. She is the founder and former director of Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya, an organization dedicated to preserving traditional crafting by educating artisans about how to promote their goods in today’s markets.

In recognition of her contributions to the preservation of crafting traditions, Ms. Frater will be receiving the George B. Walter ’36 Service to Society Award during this weekend’s Reunion Convocation.

Interested in learning more about Indian artisan designs? Ms. Frater and Kudecha Dayalal Atmaram, a traditional weaver, will be presenting a trunk show and informal talk on Sunday, June 22nd from 2-5 p.m. The show will be held at the office of Peterson, Berk, and Cross, located at 200 E. College Avenue.

The collection will remain on display in the library through June 30th.

Alumni Librarians: Kirstin Jansen Dougan, ’95

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.dougan_photo

Even as a small child, I loved the idea of investigating things—Harriet the Spy and the Hardy Boys were my heroes. By junior high, the idea of collecting information was extremely appealing. Crush on the new boy in school? Research! Where did he come from, what did his parents do, what kind of car did they drive? Silly, yes, but it carried over to school. I loved researching school projects (the writing, not so much). In high school, my youth orchestra director tasked me with being the group’s librarian, since he thought I was responsible and organized. I also started a love affair with technology—computers—especially.

By the time I got to Lawrence as a viola performance major, I was ready for the wonders that awaited me in the Seeley G. Mudd. When I wanted to learn the origins of a word, I went to one of the reference librarians (now director) Pete Gilbert. He showed me how to use the Oxford English Dictionary (just in print at that point). Shortly after that, my sophomore music history class had a session with the music librarian, the great Eunice Schroeder, and was assigned a follow-up scavenger hunt using the DOS based library catalog to find music materials. It was so much fun! The power to know how to search correctly and find what I needed—my investigative and information collecting tendencies were thrilled. If I remember correctly, one of the other students who did well on that assignment was Colleen Rortvedt, now director of the Appleton Public Library.

Sophomore year also saw me taking on the job as librarian for the LUSO. I loved the duties, ordering, marking, and organizing the music for each season. But I didn’t care for the deadlines and eraser bits that permeated my wardrobe. Since I knew I wasn’t likely to make a full-time living as a performer, and I wasn’t interested in teaching, I started wondering what else I could do with a music background and a love for information. I knew I didn’t want a job where I sat at a desk all day (no, librarians don’t do that!). I talked to Eunice, who suggested that working in an academic library would be a good fit. I was already taking German and French in addition to my music history and theory classes, lessons and such), so I kept at it until it was time to think about graduate school. I’m not sure I knew that I would need a second masters in music to be a good candidate for many academic library positions, but I knew I wasn’t ready to stop my viola education. So long story short, I went to grad school for viola performance and paid my way by being the orchestra librarian—still couldn’t get away from the eraser bits! After a year off to work in an office, in which I learned I really didn’t want to do that, I enrolled in UW Madison’s SLIS. Given the different paths my classmates had taken, I felt a bit conspicuous as one who had wanted to be a librarian early on. But I was fortunate to get various GA positions, first in the University Records Office (part of the Archives), then at College Library, and finally with the Digital Content Group, where my love of technology and data structures grew. Throughout I held an hourly position at the music library, working at the reference desk, processing archival collections, and other tasks.  I took several independent studies with the music librarians to supplement my classwork.

After graduating I stayed with the Digital Content group for a year and half, before taking a job as a music librarian at Duke University. I was responsible for reference, instruction, collection development, web site maintenance and staff supervision. After two years my boss retired, so I became the interim head for two years. I then left to take the job I have now as the Music and Performing Arts Librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. We are one of the largest libraries in the country and I love my job. I (along with the head of our branch library) do many of the same things I did at Duke, but in addition, librarians here are on the tenure track. This means that I also research and write articles. I focus on information seeking behavior in music and the tools used in music research, as well as the collections and services that connect these. My love of research and information gathering has come full circle.

by Kirstin (Jansen) Dougan, Class of ’95

Scholarly work of Lawrence Alumni: Joe Siegel ‘01

A bit about me, Joe Siegel (LU class of 2001)Joe Siegel

How do people learn to listen? It’s something that most people don’t even stop to think about. The ability to listen in our first language develops with little effort or explicit attention, but listening competency in a second language can be an arduous task, something that takes significant time and effort.  I’ve been interested in how listening ‘works’ for a long time, particularly in a second language, and I’m amazed by what an incredible ability it is. Biological, psychological, and auditory aspects combine to help us understand the aural messages we receive, and the communicative importance of listening, whether in a first or second language, makes it a fundamental tool.

I’m currently working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages at J. F. Oberlin University in Tokyo, Japan. In the classroom, I teach courses on general English as a foreign language (EFL) with a specific focus on the development of aural abilities in a second language. Such skills include recognizing the beginnings and endings of words, parsing the speech stream into meaningful chunks of language, and confirming or rejecting predictions we make about what we hear. As a researcher in the field of applied linguistics, I’m interested to learn more about teaching methods and learning styles for second language listening. This work has included MA and PhD dissertations and grant-funded research supported by the Ministry of Education in Japan.

The liberal arts education I received at Lawrence was a great preparation for my career, since my particular area of research focuses on the intersection of biology, psychology, education, and foreign language teaching and learning. A number of classes I took at LU have had a great impact on how I go about research and academic writing. Freshman Studies was a wonderful interdisciplinary experience, and I benefitted from the challenges of relating different works, genres, and themes to each other. I remember one Freshman Studies teacher who gave us the autonomy to choose any two works we had covered during the semester and write a paper on any aspect that linked the two. What a fantastic assignment for freshman students! What freedom!

Creativity, analytic thinking, and the need for clarity of expression: all of these have been indispensable in the work that I do now.

I majored in English at Lawrence, and the comparative and close analyses of important works of literature have definitely prepared me to do background reading of academic works and to construct clearly-written yet sophisticated literature reviews for academic publications. The two independent studies classes that I completed at LU gave me the opportunity to set up, plan, resource, and execute small-scale projects on my own. These courses, which I completed in my junior and senior years, were practical bridges that allowed me to transition from work done purely for grades and research done in the ‘real world’ for the benefit of students, colleagues, and the language teaching field in general. Further, at Lawrence, I had chances to interact closely and collaboratively with professors, which gave me much-needed confidence and thick skin that I’d need when dealing with peer reviewers and editors working for journals and publishing companies, who can sometimes be a picky bunch.

Listed below are some of my main and more recent publications, mostly on topics related to second language listening pedagogy:

Siegel, J. (2013). Methodological ingenuity for second language listening. In J.  Schwieter (Ed.), Studies and global perspectives of second language teaching and learning (pp. 113-139). Charlotte: Information Age Publishing.

Siegel, J. (2013). Exploring L2 listening instruction: Examinations of practice.  ELT Journal, 68(1).

Siegel, J. & Siegel, A. (2013). Empirical and attitudinal effects of bottom-up listening activities in the L2 classroom. ELT World Online, 5, 1-25, http://blog.nus.edu.sg/eltwo/.

Siegel, J. (2012). Second language learners’ perceptions of listening strategy instruction. Innovations in language learning and teaching, 7(1), 1-18.

Siegel, J. (2011). Thoughts on L2 listening pedagogy. ELT Journal, 65(3), 318-321.

Siegel, J. (2011). Learner development through listening strategy training. In K. Irie & A. Stewart (Eds.), Realizing autonomy: Practice and reflection in language education contexts (pp. 78-93). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

In the future, I plan to continue investigating current methodologies in language teaching and to develop and trial other alternative ways of teaching second language listening. I’ve also recently become more interested in pragmatic development, especially concerning university students who complete study abroad experiences.

Lux Reaches 100,000 Downloads

The Lux institutional repository is the home for the scholarly and creative output of Lawrence University. What does that mean, exactly? Lux is an electronic database that contains scholarly articles, art projects, honors projects, meeting documentation, and more- all created by Lawrence University students, faculty, and staff.

Here are a few examples of what can be found in Lux:

Recently, Lux reached the exciting milestone of 100,000 downloads of full-text content.

Alumni Librarians: Jennifer Chamberlain, ’96

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.

The Roundabout Road from the Mudd or How I Accidentally Became a Librarian

by Jennifer Chamberlain, ’96

To me, the Seeley G. has always been more than a concrete fortress beckoning to procrastinating Lawrentians. From 1992-1996, it was my second home as an unexceptional English major with disparate interests and a remarkable capacity for getting side-tracked. Armed with a steaming cup of coffee from the Grill (this is commonly referred to as the pre-latte era) and a steeled resolve to hit the books, I spent many hours tackling my homework and papers with an inefficient, yet well-intentioned outlook. I adored the research process, but hated writing papers. I could spend countless hours refining a topic or following an obscure research lead only to find myself pulling out my hair in the final hours before a paper was due trying to synthesize a mountain of citations. Professor Spurgin could likely attest to the fact that my works cited pages always read a lot better than the paper itself.

The Mudd is also the place I spent a fair number of hours studying (ok, shamelessly flirting) with my then-friend and now-husband of 14 years. Who knew that sixteen years post-graduation, I’d sit on the other side of the reference desk helping college students tackle their research projects (while watching them shamelessly flirt with fellow students)? Never underestimate the power of romance in the library.

I graduated from Lawrence in 1996 with a B.A. in English and Certification in Secondary Education ready to tackle a low paying internship as a museum educator at the Illinois State Museum. After a series of jobs in museums morphed into a semi-career in nonprofit fundraising, I found myself unhappy with the direction my professional life was taking. I was an educator that didn’t want to teach in a K-12 school and an English major without the yearning to pursue an MA (all that paper writing). I distinctly remember the day a mentor asked me my career goals. Struggling to appear like a gal with a plan, I quickly revealed a subconscious desire to become a librarian. My mentor laughed, and there’s no motivator quite like laughter. Problem was I didn’t have the first clue how people became librarians. I didn’t know anyone who worked as a librarian. As a kid, the librarians at my public library seemed a mystifying other-worldly folk that rarely stepped foot outside of the library. Even in college, I’d never really gotten to know the librarians on a personal level, despite the fact they bailed me out countless times. It seemed as though librarians were a higher life form, on par with the Elves in Lord of the Rings, who existed beyond the normal realm. Plainly put, librarians knew a whole lot about a whole lot of things. I wasn’t sure I fit the bill.

Fast forward a few years when my husband took a job in the rural Northwoods running a YMCA camp. By some act of luck, I landed a job as the director of the local, rural library. Thanks to some antiquated state statute, librarians at the smallest of public libraries are not required to hold an advanced degree in library science. It only took one day as director of the Boulder Junction Public Library for me to realize I’d found my dream job. I quickly pursued a Master of Library Science from UW-Milwaukee, and for the next ten years I held a variety of reference and administrative positions in southeastern Wisconsin public libraries.
In 2009 I was tapped to serve as the Interim Library director and later appointed Director of Library Services for the University of Wisconsin-Washington County, a freshmen/ sophomore campus of the UW System. Working in the UW System offers me the power of a large academic institution in terms of colleague caliber and strength in resources, yet I get to interact with students in an intimate campus setting a bit smaller than Lawrence. I think about the skills I acquired at the Lawrence library on a daily basis working with students one-on-one. When I educate students on information literacy strategies and watch them wade through the vast information resources at their fingertips, I think about all those hours I culled through books and resources at the Mudd. During formal library instruction sessions, I tell students they arguably have it harder in today’s digital world than I did as an undergrad when it comes to seeking and evaluating information. I share with them my memories of researching in my college library (I can still here the “shunk” sound of the Mudd’s turn style) and how I took for granted the credibility of the information I found there in print. As a small college library director, I get to administer a dynamic student-centered library similar to what I experienced at LU – and I love it.

The switch from public libraries to academic libraries was a great opportunity for my career and personal growth. Not until writing this blog entry did I realize what a homecoming it was for me. As a guide for students in the research process, I relive a bit of those college years and I find myself remembering my days at the Mudd with tremendous fondness. I feel lucky to have a job that appreciates, even encourages me to embrace my generalist-self that still enjoys chasing divergent research leads wherever they take me. And the best part is I don’t have to stay up until 3 a.m. writing that final paper.
I treasure the years I bumbled my way through the Mudd library collection. I reflect on that time frequently as I work with undergraduates learning to navigate the physical and virtual collections in the UW System. From my perspective, a career as a librarian is a glove-like fit for the type of person Lawrence inspires you to be: curious, tenacious, widely-read — a first-class generalist.

Alumni Librarians: Paul Jenkins ’83

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 the first in a series.

Paul Jenkins, '83My acquaintance with the Mudd library began during freshman orientation week. I thought I could just waltz in and get a work study job there. Little did I realize how fierce the competition was for these plum positions. It seemed like everyone wanted to work there. Long story short, I ended up pushing food tray carts in Downer for three years.

Having grown up a faculty brat (my father was a professor of English at Carleton College), I was already familiar with what a good academic library had to offer. I spent my teenage years educating myself about art history and folk songs in the Carleton stacks. After surviving the first few hectic weeks of Freshman year I began to spend lots of time, browsing the Ps and making mental notes to read all the classics that remained on my list.
Once I got the hang of student life and how to study efficiently I would spend a great deal of time during Finals Week in the stacks. This irked my classmates no end. While they crammed, I read Balzac. While they worked furiously to finish final papers, I learned more about Günter Grass.

Yes, this sounds pretty nerdy, I know, but rest assured that I was also on the soccer team and spent my fair share of time in the Viking Room.

As graduation neared my adviser urged me to consider graduate school in German literature. I’d majored in German and spent Fall term junior year in Munich. Part of me had never felt comfortable speaking German, however. Reading it and writing it were no problem, but my natural shyness grew even worse when I spoke “auf Deutsch.”

I considered graduate programs in German, English, and Journalism before finally settling on library science. To be honest, many of my friends seemed disappointed with my choice. My father, the professor, was delighted, though. He found librarianship very useful work and free from much of the nonsense then polluting literary analysis.

I entered “library school” at UW Madison never having worked a day in a library. I knew somehow that I wanted to be there, though. What a great place to earn a living, I remember thinking. I had no idea what librarians actually did all day, of course.

During my studies at UW I quickly realized I wanted to work in academic libraries. The notion of answering questions about snowmobile repair horrified me. I was too much of a snob to consider toiling in a public library. Academic libraries seemed vaguely nobler to me. If I am honest, I will admit that working for a college or university eased my worries about never having become a professor as my father, brother, and sister had. (Despite earning only a BA at Cornell, my mother is the smartest of us all.)

My first job was at the College of Mount St Joseph (Cincinnati OH) in 1988 as the Head of Collection Development. A noble title until I realized that I had no staff. I was a department unto myself. Working with the faculty to choose books, videos, and periodicals came naturally to me. Soon nearly everyone knew me. Within three years I had been elected President of the Faculty. I became director of the library seven years after arriving. My work with the Mount faculty inspired me to write a book for the English publisher Chandos: Faculty-Librarian Relationships. After publishing another book (Richard Dyer-Bennet: The Last Minstrel) through the University Press of Mississippi, I was chosen as Distinguished Scholar of the college in 2011. The faculty liked my work enough to nominate me for the New York Times Academic Librarian award (now called I Love My Librarian) in 2006. One day later that year I was on duty at the Reference Desk when the phone came informing me that I had won. I smiled broadly and then helped a student with yet another ERIC search.

If this reportage smacks of bragging, perhaps it’s because I still feel a bit inferior to my faculty colleagues with their Ph.D.’s. I teach classes here now (History of American Protest Music, and The Beatles: Voice of a Generation) but when my students address me as “Dr. Jenkins” I cringe. I ask them to call me “Mr. Jenkins” and feel better after a few moments.

Still, I find academic librarianship a great profession, and I am grateful to my first boss who took a chance on a newly minted MLS way back in the time when the Internet was still only an idea buzzing around the brain of Al Gore.