Tell us a little bit about your professional background and areas of focus.
I’ve worked in the LIS field for 32 years now–that’s hard to believe! My first professional library job was as a Children’s Librarian in the Harris Co. Public Library in Houston. In the early 90s I was the director of a small community library in a town just east of Austin, and in 1993 I landed my “dream job” as a Continuing Education Consultant with the Texas State Library & Archives Commission. I was at TSLAC for 10 years, and served as the Manager of Continuing Education & Consulting for the last two. I earned my doctorate in 2006 and was offered a position as Assistant Professor at the Kent State Columbus program with a focus in Children’s Services. This became my new “dream job”! In 2015 I moved to the Kent campus. My areas of expertise and teaching are public libraries, collection management, reference services and children’s services.
Describe recent projects or research that you’ve been working on.
Over the past few months I’ve been building an online course for undergraduates called “Information Fluency in the Workplace & Beyond”. I taught the course face-to-face for the first time in fall 2019 and really enjoyed working with undergraduate students. Translating it into the online environment has been a challenge but it’s also been very gratifying.
What is your favorite part of teaching?
I’ve always wanted to make a difference in my work and teaching has been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done! I love getting to know students and helping them achieve their professional goals.
Do you have a favorite teaching moment?
This is kind of like asking what my favorite book is! (The answer is of course, whatever I’m reading at the time. : ) My favorite teaching moment is always getting feedback from students about what they learned and how they’ll use this knowledge in their work. It makes my instructor’s heart soar to know my teaching has a positive impact on their life and work!
How have your professional experiences influenced your teaching?
Even though I haven’t worked in a library for almost 30 years, I still think of myself as a librarian. Over the years I’ve also tried to stay active in professional organizations, especially at the state level, and read widely to keep up with what’s happening in the field. My library work experiences still inform my teaching but I’m always learning something new and try to incorporate this into my classes.
What issues related to information interest you most?
The ability of librarians to change lives and empower people from all walks of life is the core of what I believe and teach. Librarianship is about service, and libraries have a powerful role to play in ensuring social justice through their programs, collections and services. But we also have a responsibility to become aware of how our organizations have participated in and sustained institutional racism over the years, and take steps to change the status quo. This is an important period for our society, and libraries are more essential than ever in ensuring everyone has free and equitable access to information.
Are there any websites, apps, podcasts or other resources you’d recommend students explore?
There are dozens! WebJunction (https://www.webjunction.org) is the first that leaps to mind. The free webinars listed in the Course Catalog and the professional tools in the Topic Areas section are fantastic resources. Also, visiting your professional association’s (ALA, PLA, MLA, ALSC, etc.) website and social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, is a great way to keep abreast of trends in the field.
If you had one superpower:
I feel like I already do! The power of the spoken and written word is tremendous and far-reaching, especially in teaching. My constant goal is to always use this power to make a positive difference in the world.
How do you like to spend time outside of work?
Is this a trick question? : ) Work and life are so intertwined it’s hard to separate the two! Even when I’m browsing social media I’m constantly encountering articles and professional tools to share with my classes. Of course I LOVE reading, but I also enjoy just being outside in nature. There is so much beauty all around us and every day is a blessing. I try to spend time every day noticing and being thankful for it.
Do you have any advice for students?
Stay connected with others in your field and NEVER stop learning. Also, join your state professional association and participate in continuing education opportunities (like webinars) whenever possible. Read widely and stay in touch with the folks you went to school with through social media. And be sure to practice self-care at all times. Working with the public is demanding and stressful so make sure to nurture yourself. And above all, follow your bliss–engage in work that makes you feel happy and useful because our joy feeds the soul of the world.
What class(es) are you teaching next semester for Kent’s iSchool?
I usually teach four different classes and over 100 students every semester. (This is why I don’t always know what you’re asking about when you email me. : ) In fall 2020, I’ll be teaching Information Fluency for undergrads, along with The Public Library (LIS 60608), Information Sources & Reference Services (LIS 60601) and the Master’s Portfolio course (LIS 60280).
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Yes! I’d like to take this opportunity to rave about the fantastic students we have in the Kent State MLIS program. I’m so in awe of your dedication and enthusiasm, and the knowledge and experience you bring to the table. It’s a privilege to learn from all of you!