Category: alumni post

Alumni Librarians: Sarah Slaughter ’13

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. 

Like many people who’ve found their career in libraries, I didn’t start out thinking I was going to be a librarian. I was a typical Lawrentian in that I had many interests, but I wasn’t sure where they would take me after graduation. As my senior year loomed I was getting anxious about what to do next – I majored in philosophy and German, which while both fascinating, didn’t point me toward a definite career path. Then one day, I was working an afternoon shift at the circulation desk, and I distinctly remember looking around the first floor at all the books and the people studying and thinking, “Hmm, I really like it here.” I decided to follow up on that instinct and started researching librarianship. After reading about grad programs I was still intrigued, so I decided to talk to some real life librarians to find out more.

Hearing the stories of the librarians at the Mudd was what sealed the deal for me. As I listened, I noticed we had a lot in common. They were all multi-interested people with a love for learning and a passion for helping students. They sounded like my kind of people.

The next year, I submitted my application to the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) and was ecstatic when I found out I’d been accepted. I graduated from Lawrence in 2013 and started at Madison in the fall. Madison’s program turned out to be a great fit for me, and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities I had there to get some hands on experience both in my student jobs, and the credit-bearing practicums I completed.

I had the good fortune to work at the Wisconsin Historical Society, as well as at the SLIS Library (that’s right, they have an entire library about libraries). These two jobs were very different, but they taught me just as much about working in libraries as I learned in my classes. At the Historical Society I worked in the periodicals department, checking in magazines and newspapers, and helping with a long-term storage project for their extensive newspaper collection. At the SLIS Library, I worked at the circulation desk, checking out materials, putting things on reserve, and teaching occasional technology workshops for my fellow students as well as those in the distance cohort.

Before grad school I didn’t realize that librarians could also be teachers, but now it’s one of the primary aspects of my job. I learned about teaching in libraries by taking classes on information literacy pedagogy and through an instruction practicum in which I co-taught an online course. I would strongly recommend to any student interested in libraries take advantage of whatever opportunities you can to get some hands on experience. The skills I learned in my practicums and in my student jobs gave me the edge that helped me land my first real library job after graduation.

I now work as the Humanities and Education Librarian at the University of Dubuque, a small private school, only slightly larger than Lawrence. My time is usually spent teaching information literacy in the core curriculum as well as other courses in my liaison areas, helping students one-on-one at the reference desk, and buying materials for the library. I’ve also had the chance at UD to nurture the curiosity I cultivated at Lawrence by doing my own research. Last year I worked on a paper for UD’s character education journal, Character And… about online privacy and character formation. This was especially exciting for me, because it gave me a chance to use the ethics background I gained as a philosophy major.

I’ve been at the University of Dubuque for two years now and I feel extremely lucky to be here. The small college atmosphere is where I feel most at home and I work on a library staff of ten wonderful people who all share the same enthusiasm for their work as I saw in the librarians at the Mudd. My job is different every day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I didn’t start out thinking I’d be a librarian, but now that I’m here I can’t believe the idea didn’t occur to me sooner. Librarians are curious about myriad subjects, adept at solving problems, and passionate about helping others. All of these characteristics can also describe Lawrence graduates. In conclusion, for any Lawrentians looking for an enriching career, give libraries a chance. I found my people here, and perhaps you will too.

By Sarah Slaughter, Class of 2013

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

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

Alumni Librarians: Emily Alinder Flynn ’09

EmilyEditor’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.

I got hooked on libraries while working in technical (tech) services at the Mudd Library freshman year at LU and haven’t looked back since. Besides labeling new print books and DVDs, I corrected errors in the online catalog to ensure people could find what they looked for and also shelved rare and special books in the Lincoln Reading Room and Milwaukee-Downer Room. I enjoyed organizing the library but truly loved making sure people could find what they needed with everything being where it should be. In my current job, part of it includes correcting errors and fixing links for eResources which are essential since eBooks and eJournals cannot be stumbled upon like a physical book that is misshelved.

As I neared graduation, I researched graduate programs in library science and ended up at the University of Michigan, a School of Information that offers lots of technology courses in the same degree. Learning coding, database management, heuristic evaluation, etc., in addition to library science has proven to be useful in my career. My first professional job was at ProQuest, cataloging eBooks for Safari Books Online which is mostly computer science and technology related. Cataloging describes the contents of an item and creates a record in an online catalog so that people can find the information and items. LU prepared me as an analytical thinker, furthered my intellectual curiosity, and inspired me to be my best self at all times. All of these traits serve me well as a technology-savvy, detail-oriented librarian.

For current students thinking about a career in libraries, my first piece of advice is to work in one. This sounds basic but it’s the best way to tell not only if you want to work in libraries but to determine what you want to do, and sometimes what you don’t want to do which is also important.  Experience working in libraries will make you a stronger candidate for library jobs. Also, the best part about libraries today is the variety of jobs and areas that are available. I currently work at OhioLINK, which is a consortium of 121 Ohio academic libraries and the State Library of Ohio that share materials and purchase eContent together which allows students and faculty to have access to many more resources. In addition to cataloging, I manage an electronic theses and dissertations submission website for 30 of our member libraries. One of my librarian friends works as a curator of children’s literature. Another is a studio librarian, helping students create research and projects with media and software. There are opportunities in government facilities, corporations, museums, and so much more. There truly is something for everyone, you just have to look.

By Emily Alinder Flynn, Class of 2009

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

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.

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.