Thursday, September 13, 2012

Alumni Interview: Technology Initiatives Librarian Carol

 This week's alumni interview is with Carol Smith, who attended Drexel from 2004-2006. She enjoyed 17 years of corporate experience prior to commencing her studies at Drexel, including 8 years inj commodity futures trading and 9 years as Vice President for Operations for a highly successful information service firm. In 2006, she graduated from Drexel with dual MS/MSIS degrees.

After graduation, Carol's first served as the Business Librarian/ Assistant Professor of Library Services as the James C. Kirkpatrick Library as the University of Central Missouri (UCM), from 2006-2009. In 2009, she became the Technology Initiatives Librarian at UCM. In 2008, Carol obtained a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Systems (UCM). In 2009, she obtained a professional certificate in Competitive Intelligence for LIS Professionals (Special Libraries Association, 2009). She is currently in the dissertation phase of her doctoral studies in Information Science and Learning Technologies (Ph.D. program at University of Missouri- Columbia). Her dissertation research centers on the opportunistic discovery of information in geospatial information environments. 

Carol was named the 2009 Missouri Outstanding New Librarian and a 2009 American Library Association Emerging Leader. She was recently elected at the 2013 President o the Missouri Library Association. 

What is your current job? Technology Initiatives Librarian/ Assistant Professor of Library Services, James C. Krikpatrick Library, University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO. I have successfully applied for promotion and tenure to the rank of Associate Professor as of July 1, 2012.

How did you find your job? I learned of the position via the ALA JobList. It was one of 36 academic librarian positions I applied for, so my advice to current students is to hang in there and be persistent! I began as a Business Librarian for UCM. After the departure of our systems librarian in 2010, I transitioned into my new role as Technology Initiatives Librarian.

What does your typical day look like? Is this what you expected when you took the job? There is no typical day! I enjoy a variety of activities ranging from staffing the reference desk and computer commons desk, conducting web design, continuous web development, institutional repository management, and faculty education initiatives. As an academic librarian, I am also highly engaged with the student body. I advice two student organizations and mentor 2-3 undergraduate research projects each year. I also raise volunteers each year for my library's amazing annual children's literature festival. I teach courses in geospatial business analysis, competitive intelligence, and library research skills. I am highly engaged in library, university, and state and national committees. Academic librarianship offers an incredible variety of responsibilities and opportunities.

What do you enjoy most about your job?The variety as well as the opportunity to learn new things and tackle new challenges every day. I particularly enjoy the opportunity to mentor others who are pursing their library degree or considering it. Mentoring is essential to the future of librarianship, and we should all take the opportunity to encourage and guide others. It's a noble profession!

What are some of the common misconceptions about your job/area of librarianship? I think there is a misconception that technology librarians know everything about all things technology. Like reference librarians, we don't know it all- we just know how to figure it out. And we enjoy working through a challenging issue.

What was the most valuable thing you did or learned while in library school? I gained so many valuable experiences at Drexel, but the most gratifying and inspiring was probably having my first research paper published with the encouragement and support of Dean Fenske.

What inspired you to choose this career? I'd been thinking and talking about becoming a librarian since the age of 6. My local community library branch was my favorite place in the universe and the branch librarian was my personal hero. My life took a few interesting detours, and I was 39 years old before beginning my studies at Drexel. Hey, it's never too late to follow your dreams!

What do you wish you had learned more about? I somehow completely missed out on learning about library instruction. I didn't even realize that academic librarians taught until beginning my first position. How did I miss that?! I love teaching, but I do wish I'd learned about about it during my studies. there are so many areas of specialization for librarians, tough- it's difficult for any program of study to cover them all!

Any tips for current students? Manage your time, exercise steady discipline, and put your very best into every course project. Your academic output serves as evidence of your learning and ability, and you never know- a course project or paper you can show to future employer may be what lands you that crucial first job. Support and engage your colleagues via the Drexel graduate community discussion boards. Set at least one ambitious goal for your studies (e.g. publishing or presenting). Identify a possible area of specialization. Librarians need to be both generalists and specialists- what special something will you bring to the table? Most of all, realize that learning doesn't end when you have your Drexel degree in hand. Embrace opportunities for both formal and informal skill development after you graduate. We're all in a permanent state of learning.

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