Tell us a little bit about your professional background and areas of focus.
When I look back, I have spent two-thirds of my life in library services! I began shelving books as a high school student. It was a great environment, so when I was in college and a paraprofessional job became available, I couldn’t resist. We had a rather spirited staff and I eventually met the man who would become my husband there. I received a fellowship to earn my MLS at Kent State so I took a year off and completed the program. I was then hired as a youth services librarian, but teens have always been my favorite age to work with. In addition to working as a librarian, I started teaching part-time for the iSchool in 1995. I took a break from library work in 2000 to focus on my family. In 2006 I was hired as a full-time faculty member for the iSchool focusing on youth services but also teaching courses in public libraries and marketing library services.
Describe recent projects or research that you’ve been working on.
I am constantly trying to improve my courses, so that is always a focus. I am particularly interested in strengthening the teen services course and am working on some exciting opportunities that should allow me to take it to the next level.
What is your favorite part of teaching?
Working with students who are passionate about the possibilities in the field. Every student has some sort of experience or knowledge to bring to the discussion. When I witness students learning from each other in addition to the knowledge gained from the course, it is a good thing to observe. It is also very rewarding to watch students learn new things and apply it to the current issues in the field.
It is also fun when students complete the Engaging Teens class and then tell me how surprised they are at the richness in the quality of teen literature. They can’t wait to use it with teens in a work setting.
Do you have a favorite teaching moment?
I have the opportunity to teach two core classes. Students usually take LIS 60040 Information Institutions and Professions early in their program and explore different types of information institutions and also think about where and how they best fit in the information environment. I also teach LIS 60280 Master’s Portfolio in LIS which is the last required course for MLIS students. It is rewarding to see students’ journeys through the program and how that journey culminates in this last class. Students are able to showcase their progress and highlight their knowledge and skills. It is very cool to see how students grow from their first core courses to their final one.
How have your professional experiences influenced your teaching?
I remain active in professional organizations such as ALA’s Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). I am also connected to professionals working on the front lines (and many are former students of mine). I constantly draw upon my own experiences working in libraries – even though it was a while ago and some things have changed – the core ideas are still present. The assignments in my classes are practical in nature and help to solve questions and issues that current library professionals face.
What issues related to information interest you most?
Advocacy is a big one for me, especially for those who have little or no voice. How can we make sure that those who need access to information get what they need, and better yet, know how to interpret and use it to make decisions? We also have to learn to advocate for ourselves and the profession so that we can make an impact.
Are there any websites, apps, podcasts or other resources you’d recommend students explore?
I had a mentor in a leadership group say something that has stuck with me…one of the first things he read every day was job ads/postings. He was always looking for new challenges, what skills were needed/changing and how and where he could contribute his talents. He typically didn’t stay in one place for a long time but always had an impact.
To further this thinking… complete an inventory of your skills to see what you can improve upon, including soft skills. Don’t just look at traditional institutions for jobs, think about how you can apply your skills and experience across disciplines.
I try to read widely and keep abreast of trends and think about how they can apply to my field. Find the thinkers and doers in this world and read what they have to say.
If you had one superpower:
I would love the ability to be in two places at once! I could get so much more done and finally catch up on things!
How do you like to spend time outside of work?
Ha – I need to be better with the concept of time outside of work. I like to spend time with my husband and since we have been working at home together, we usually go for long walks or watch Netflix. I work out every day. My oldest son is away and my younger son is in college, but we manage to connect somehow every day. I also spend a lot of time with my family, including my siblings and nieces and nephews. We are Italian so there is always food to make and eat and loud conversation to join. I read teen literature to stay up on authors and titles – but mostly because I enjoy it, not because it is work.
Do you have any advice for students?
One of my favorites is “never show up late to a meeting with a fresh cup of coffee in hand!” (In case you haven’t figured it out… make a good impression. The fresh coffee demonstrates that it is more important to you than the job/meeting).
But to be a bit more profound…
Be inquisitive. Be informed. Be present. Be active. Find something that you are passionate about. Join professional organizations to immerse yourself in the field and network. Start with student groups, such as the iSchool’s Graduate Student Advisory Council (GSAC) to meet with other students and make a difference. We need new leaders to energize in the field of Information Science who can problem solve, think creatively, advocate, and continuously push the envelope to try new things. Are you up to the challenge to make a difference?
What class(es) are you teaching for Kent’s iSchool?
This academic year, I will be teaching LIS 60040 Information Institutions and Professions, LIS 60609 Marketing the Library, LIS 60626 Engaging Teens, and LIS 60280 Master’s Portfolio in LIS.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Be good to yourself. It is hard to carve out time for yourself when you are going to school and working and have other life responsibilities. Stress affects you in more ways than you know, so be careful to take an appropriate course load that you can handle. Learn to manage stress.
Be good to others….even when you don’t agree with them.