Throughout my career as a librarian, I have had mentors along the way. The first formal mentoring relationship I experienced was during my time in library school. The Illinois Library Association offered a mentoring program, and Jack Hurwitz, who was then the director of the Hinsdale Public Library, became my mentor. He taught me a great deal about public library directorship, and although I have yet to experience that particular position, I have been a director in a large high school library, and in an academic library. Those points that Jack shared with me translated into other types of libraries.
As my career has progressed, I have had the opportunity to work with outstanding people in the profession and have learned a great deal from them as our paths have crossed. I currently have the privilege of working with some outstanding professionals at the State Library of Iowa, and they are both colleagues and role models.
I am now able to mentor other librarians and to develop programs for them that help them to expand and grow professionally. It’s an extremely rewarding component of my work.
As a citizen of the United States, I attended the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. I worked full-time at the American Library Association while I took my library courses in the evening; I also got a certificate qualifying me as a school librarian. This path took 3.5 years, but I was able to complete my MLIS completely debt-free. I came into the program with a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Chicago; while I initially intended to pursue a career as a special librarian, I’ve been a school librarian, an academic librarian, and a museum librarian–and have worked a total of five years as a regional and state-wide consultant in youth services. I’ve been in the profession for 20 years, and I love my work.
Libraries and the services and resources they provide are integral to American culture, and my work is now primarily with public libraries–although some of my work is with school libraries. While I believe digital resources are important offerings libraries can provide to the various communities they serve, libraries as place–with their programs, print resources, computers, and other media remain important. As someone who serves both urban and rural communities, I believe libraries remain as important as ever in maintaining at least an opportunity for an evening playing field to both children and adults who don’t have access to computers in their homes, early literacy programs, summer reading programs, and being a source of information and recreation to all citizens.
I decided to become a librarian after working in several other fields, and it’s a decision I’ve never regretted. It’s a profession that allows me to be of service to others in a meaningful way, throughout the entire human life span, and for that privilege, I’m very appreciate and grateful.
I’ve had an Evernote account for several years–have it on two computers and my iPhone, and I use it occasionally. When I attend conferences, I put the conference schedule in Evernote, referring to it on my iPhone during the day, and planning for my schedule for the following day from my laptop in my hotel room. I generally use Delicious for saving websites, which also has a note-taking capability, but I’m going to practice using Evernote, especially as a possible tool for planning my continuing education sessions–I am beginning to see uses for it for assembling webpages, etc. from which I can make slides for webinars.
I have a Google calendar but haven’t used it because my organization uses Microsoft Outlook, and I have my calendar on my iPhone, which incorporates both home and work. However, I took another look at Google Calendar, and have some upcoming projects with librarians around the State of Iowa, and I can see how we can use Google Calendar to collectively track projects and schedule task forces, etc. I’ve practiced adding an event and have added my Google Calendar to my iPhone (done in Settings). It’s an additional tool to track various projects, and I’m looking forward to using it more frequently.
My experiences with professional organizations have been uniformly positive. I began my career in the library field by seeking out a position at the American Library Association. I started in an administrative assistant’s position with the Association of College and Research Libraries, while I worked on my MLS part-time at Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science in River Forest, Illinois (USA). I completed the degree 3.5 years later, along with the certification to be a school library media specialist. During that time, I also was promoted to managing the publications programs of two of ALA’s youth services divisions, the American Association of School Librarians, and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). While in library school, I joined ALA and also joined the Illinois Library Association, which at the time had an excellent mentoring program. Jack Hurwitz, who was then the director of the Hinsdale, Illinois Public Library, was my mentor and taught me a great deal about public library directorship. I wanted to try school librarianship for a while, though, and worked for two years as a high school librarian in the Chicago Public Schools. I then moved to California and for a year worked at Stanford University, organizing a department library for the Biochemistry Department. For the four years following that, I worked in educational software companies and did not maintain my ALA membership.
However, when I returned to Illinois and accepted a position as youth services consultant with one of the regional library systems, I rejoined ALA and ILA. I’m now the youth services consultant for the State Library of Iowa and am a member of ALA and two of its youth services divisions, YALSA and the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC), as well as the Iowa Library Association.
These organizations’ conferences, regular communications, and other continuing education opportunities (both face-to-face and online) have been and continue to be invaluable. They have enabled me to advance professionally, to continue to be a lifelong learner, and to better serve youth services and school librarians with whom I’ve worked in both Illinois and Iowa. Additionally, they have given me networks of friends with whom I share professional and personal interests.
I’ve recently begun serving on two committees, one in YALSA and one in ALSC, and I work with the Youth Services Section of the Iowa Library Association. I hope to give something back to the organizations that give so much to me.