MLA Logo Membership

MLA Past Featured Members

Barbara Reading, featured November 2013
Jeff Papier, featured September 2013
Lauren Todd, featured July 2013
Dean Hargett, featured May 2013
Dan Brower, featured March 2013
Lucy M. Lockley, featured January 2013
Becky Helbling, featured November 2012
Jill Gordon, featured July 2012
Eric Deatherage, featured May 2012
Nadia Ghasedi, featured March 2012
Sarah Bean Thompson, featured January 2012
Julie Schwartz, featured July 2011
Tracy Stout, featured May 2011

Barbara Reading, Missouri State Librarian

My name is Barbara Reading, and I was appointed State Librarian in July. Prior to that, I was Library Development Director for the State Library. I’m finding that serving as State Librarian involves attending even more meetings! As State Librarian I manage the three divisions of the State Library, Wolfner Talking Book and Braille Library, Reference Services, and Library Development.

So I’m balancing more roles as I look at library service from new angles. I also serve on several boards and advisory committees for MOREnet Council, MOBIUS, and SISLT, for example. I just returned from a meeting of a state librarian’s group, COSLA, the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, where we heard updates from programs including IMLS, the Edge Initiative, and of course the ALA Washington Office, and approved the COSLA Legislative Action Plan for next year. For education, I received my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from MU, and MLS from the University of Wisconsin Madison. I still remember how cold it was in Madison, but it’s a great campus and community.

Q1: When did you decide that you wanted to be a librarian?

I made that decision in high school. It sounds corny, but I joined the ‘library club’ and enjoyed taking part in the back room activities. We had a very personable librarian which also had an effect. Later, as I did other part-time work in public libraries it sealed the deal. I had a broad range of interests and helping people find information or just a good book was very appealing.

Q2: What do you like most about being the Missouri State Librarian?

I enjoy getting to work with many different groups around the state and at the national level. I get to see how the various threads of issues intersect. I also enjoy having a role in seeing libraries succeed, whether through grants that help them develop their programs or through our other projects. I have a very supportive staff who are very good to work with as well. In addition, this position has allowed me to expand my interests beyond Library Development, which tends to focus on public library services, to library service for state employees and persons with visual and physical limitations.

Q3: What do you think are the biggest challenges in working in the state library?

Trying to keep up with all the issues and the concerns of the library community can be challenging. Like every other library, we have limits on funding and staff to devote to our programs, and we aren’t able to address every need. We also face challenges in that there are constraints in the usage of the LSTA funds, and sometimes we are asked to fund projects that are great ideas, but don’t meet the federal criteria. State funding is very limited, but does provide some key help particularly for the REAL Program. I hope that people will continue to share their concerns with us, so that our programs do serve their needs.

Q4: If you were to hire a state librarian what skills and/or qualities would you look for in a candidate?

It depends very much on the job, given the big differences between the work in Library Development, Reference Services, and the Wolfner Talking Book and Braille Library. We consistently look for staff who are team players, flexible, and bring new ideas to our programs. All of our jobs require understanding the technologies used by libraries and keeping up with their field. A certain tolerance for state bureaucracy is also helpful.

Q5: Why are you involved in/ member of the Missouri Library Association?

I started my career as a youth services librarian in a regional library system. I looked to MLA to help provide a community of peers to learn from and to share my concerns and interests. While I participated in other groups as well, I have always felt it important to participate in our state professional association, as a way to keep current, network with colleagues, and work together on library-related issues. I appreciate that new technologies have opened up many new avenues for member participation, particularly given growing constraints on time and budget for travel to meetings.





Jeff Papier, Reference Librarian & Assistant Professor, St. Louis Community College

photo of Jeff PapierBackground: First, please tell us a little bit about yourself: Name, employment & current responsibilities, education, etc.:

My name is Jeff Papier, and I am Reference Librarian/Assistant Professor at the Florissant Valley Campus of St. Louis Community College. My duties are quite varied, and keep me on my toes: at the reference desk, I teach students how to conduct research; in the classroom, I conduct bibliographic instruction sessions. In Spring 2013, teaching a credit-bearing library research course will become part of my duties. This semester I’ll be involved in developing a version of that course for my campus, as the course hasn’t been offered here in a number of years. In addition, I serve as the library liaison to a number of academic departments, and devote a goodly amount of time to collection development. Committee work is a substantive part of my position, too. To round things out, I’m also a faculty co-sponsor of our LGBT student club. I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Harvard University, and my Masters in Library Science from Rutgers University in my home state of New Jersey.

Q1: When did you decide that you wanted to be a librarian?

Languages are a lifelong passion of mine, but I found out after college that teaching French at the high school level was not. Deciding what I wanted to do when I grew up became a real Zen koan for me. That koan was solved in a flash when a librarian friend of mine told me he thought I’d make a good reference librarian. Thinking “I love research, have wide-ranging interests, and am fairly outgoing,” I said “what the heck”, and started the library program at Rutgers in 1993. The honest truth is that I’ve never looked back. I was a reference librarian in public libraries for around 14 years, and have been at St. Louis Community College since 2007. When people ask “If you weren’t a librarian, what would you be?,” I answer “a librarian.”

Q2: What do you like most about being a community college librarian?

The sheer variety of students who come through the library doors is the best part of the job. We help students who are fairly well academically prepared and wish ultimately to transfer to a four-year college. At the same time, we help students who struggled through high school and who need lots of assistance in realizing their goal of receiving a college education. Then there are the returning students - - students in their 30s and 40s on up who, due to layoffs or other personal circumstances – come to us to learn new skills. These students often have great maturity but are fearful of new technologies or of stepping into a classroom for the first time in years. The challenge and the joy in my job is helping all of these students, with their distinct needs, to the best of my abilities.

Q3: What do you think are the biggest challenges in working in a community college library?

See the answer to question 2! It’s a true challenge to teach a classroom full of students who have very basic library skills, if any at all, and to then switch gears and teach a class of more academically prepared individuals. My approach to the material, pacing, depth of explanation, along with lots of pedagogical intangibles have to be appropriate to the “audience.” But the challenges, when met, are themselves the source of great satisfaction – not an uncommon occurrence in other areas of life, too.

Q4: If you were to hire a community college librarian what skills and/or qualities would you look for in a candidate?

Knowledge and library experience can be acquired, as can technology skills. It’s nice to have a fair amount of these in any new hire. However, there are some qualities of character that are perhaps rarer, and for which I’d be especially on the lookout:

  • A commitment to teaching, and to improving as a teacher throughout the course of an entire career. This means the ability to welcome constructive feedback.
  • An abiding desire to help students, no matter what their academic or economic backgrounds.
  • Intellectual curiosity.
  • Respectful, professional regard for others in the workplace.
  • The ability to embrace carefully considered change, and to shake up the status quo when necessary.
  • The ability to keep things in perspective, and to leaven difficult situations with humor.

Q5: Why are you involved in/ member of the Missouri Library Association? I’d say the onus is on those librarians who aren’t MLA members to explain why they haven’t joined. We as librarians, wherever we work, know the value we bring to our patrons. However, there are some disturbing trends across the country in which that value is being called into question, or denied entirely. Thankfully, the Missouri Library Association, along with other library associations throughout the country, are preserving, protecting and promoting the good that we do.

Lauren Todd, Washington University

photo of Lauren ToddFirst, please tell us a little bit about yourself: Name, employment & current responsibilities, education, etc.:

My name is Lauren Todd, and I am an Engineering Subject Librarian at Washington University in St. Louis. In this position, I offer reference services to Engineering faculty, staff and students. I work with several classes and teach library instruction sessions. I further assist with office hours in the Engineering School. I also provide expertise in Article Citation Reports and h-index as well as assist with standards and patents. I’m very active in the library’s social media efforts, as well outreach and service promotion. I also collect for the PopLit Horror collection. I received my master’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2011, and I have my undergraduate degree in journalism from Northwestern University.

Q1: When did you decide that you wanted to be a librarian?

When I graduated from college, I moved to Tucson, Arizona where I worked as a newspaper designer for two years. In 2007, I took a graphic design job at a legal publication in St. Louis, and I happily moved back to the Midwest so I could be closer to my family in Chicago. Within the first month of the job, I knew that it wasn’t a good fit, and I realized I needed to find another job in journalism or find another career path where I could use the communication skills. I thought back to my high school job as a youth services shelver, and when I started researching what it takes to become a librarian, it clicked. I took the steps to get into graduate school, and I decided to take the summer before off to travel and have fun. Leaving journalism was a hard decision, but it was ultimately one of the best decisions I ever made.

Q2: What do you like most about being an engineering librarian?

I like how I can carve out my own path within the school. I’ve only been on the job for a little over a year, but I’ve laid an excellent foundation for the coming ones. I really enjoy the faculty and staff relationships I’ve fostered, and they have ultimately contributed to any outreach successes. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to work with extremely motivated students.

Q3: What do you think are the biggest challenges in working in an academic library as an engineering librarian?

The School of Engineering is HUGE. There are more than 80 faculty members, 1200 undergraduates, and almost 700 masters/Ph.D. students. It’s a challenge navigating this vast landscape and plotting out where the librarian could offer a service, teach a class or meet with a research group.

Q4: If you were to hire an engineering librarian what skills and/or qualities would you look for in a candidate?

Clear communication skills. Wit and humor. Short-term goals but a long-term plan.


Dean Hargett, State Historical Society

Dean HargettFirst, please tell us a little bit about yourself: Name, employment & current responsibilities, education, etc.:

I moved with my family to Columbia in 1996 so my wife and I could attend graduate school. My daughter was born in 1999. I received my library degree in 2000 after four years of part-time school at the University of Missouri.

After starting as a student employee at the State Historical Society in the fall of 1996, I joined the full-time staff in May 1997 working in the Newspaper Library. I moved into the acquisition librarian position in 1999. My job is basically: Get New Stuff. That could be accepting gifts of materials of all kinds, buying new books from university presses and hunting down obscure, short-run titles or other items or Missouri state government documents. I am also responsible for finding periodicals and serials. While the society concentrates on history-based sources, the collection has journals from many of the huge variety of organizations in Missouri; medical societies, environmental groups, accountants etc.

Recently I took over responsibility for cataloging the collections at the society. That has been a great learning experience, and were it not for Peggy Platner, our former staff and current volunteer cataloger, I would be really swamped with that job alone.

Q1: When did you decide that you wanted to be a librarian?

My father was a librarian for a time, and though he wasn't in the profession long, he should have been. His work in the library at Niles College in Illinois made a big impression on me, so the idea of being a librarian has always been in the foreground of my options. In fact the closed stacks room here smells like the library he was in and that always brings back memories.

Q2: What do you like most about being an acquisitions specialist?

Unwrapping new materials. It makes every day a bit like Christmas. Being able to accept donations in person from someone who has written a book, be it a personal or family history, a history of their town or whatever the topic, is also nice. They are always excited to get their work in the State Historical Society and I can tell they are proud of their effort.

Cataloging is very different than the rest of the work I do. Describing and classifying an item can be very interesting. It's often like solving a puzzle which has a logical solution and that is satisfying as well.

Q3: What do you think are the biggest challenges in working in a State Historical Society/ State Historical Society Library or working as an acquisitions specialist?

Saying no to a potential donor is probably the hardest thing. Not everything that comes across my desk, so to speak, is a good fit for the collection. Just because it's old doesn't make it worth keeping in the collection and sometimes that is hard for individuals to understand when they start the conversation with, "I got this old book…" Having a good collection policy makes that easier.

Q5: Why are you involved in the Missouri Library Association?

I thought it would be a good idea to connect with my fellow librarians. Not only does being a member keep me informed of library activities in the state but it feels good to be part of the larger library world. It would be all too easy to sit in my office day after day, in my own little world, and not be exposed to the larger library community.


Brower photoDan Brower, Branch Manager (Red Bridge), Mid-Continent Public Library

Hey, everybody! I'm Dan Brower and I am the Assistant Branch Manager for the Red Bridge Branch of Mid-Continent Public Library, located in Kansas City, MO. I've been with MCPL since 2008, and my job has varied greatly since I started. I started out as a technology trainer for both the public and staff. I've been involved with multiple outreach projects. I have also participated in MALA workshops and webcasts. Now, I make sure that things run smoothly at the branch and stand in when the Branch Manager isn't there. I also make all of the schedules for the branch, and I hire, train, and supervise our pages. I help with the branch's collection development and budgets while still monitoring daily procedures. I've also been known to rummage through and play with the puppets. When I'm not at my desk or at the circulation desk, I'm usually out and about in the community raising people's awareness of the library and everything we have to offer. I strive to change people's opinion of the library from an afterthought to their first thought.

I am currently working toward my Master's Degree in Library Science at Emporia State University.

When/Why did you decide that you wanted to be a librarian?

I received my Bachelor's degree in History from Missouri State University. After that, I decided that I wanted to get into Archives. I love history, and having the opportunity to actually touch it was an exciting prospect for me. After looking around at different schools, though, it became apparent that in order to get into Archives, I would almost certainly need a Master's degree in Library Science, too. As I applied to library schools, I decided to look for jobs in libraries so that I would have experience as well as the education. I never thought of myself as a librarian, but by the end of my second week, I had an epiphany; I just knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I haven't looked back or thought twice since.

What do you like most about being a librarian and what are the biggest challenges in your job?

My favorite thing about being a librarian is working with the public. I always tell people that we are like superheroes, changing lives, and I really do believe that. Working with the public means that I get to go on information adventures, and I get to see, firsthand, the impact of libraries. I love it when children will come into the library and shout (in a library shout, of course), "You were at my school!" Early on in my library career, I helped a customer pick out some Disney children's books. At first, I thought that she wanted them for her children. As it turned out, she wanted the books so that she could learn how to read. It's great to know that you can make that difference in someone's life.

I have found that the biggest challenge in my position is managing. It's weird since that's what I do, but it requires a lot of juggling. It can be difficult to be the person in between the staff and the branch manager, but having a good team definitely helps.

Tell us about the Center School Summer Outreach Program: How did it start, why do you do it, and what kind of response are you getting?

My branch is located in south Kansas City and serves the Center School District. We visited the elementary schools last May to talk about our Summer Reading Program (SRP) and many of the students were excited. One student raised their hand and asked how they could participate if they couldn't get to the library. I was fairly new to this environment, so I quickly said that they could ride with a friend. Well, that wasn't an option either. So, I told them that they can log their minutes online. This, also, wasn't an option.

As it turns out, many families only had one vehicle and most families didn't have internet access. When those students went home for the summer, they had no way to take part in our SRP. The school librarian brought her concerns to me, and I coordinated the effort to bring our library to them during their 4-week summer school. We brought 600 books to the school, along with laptops for circulation, library card sign-ups, SRP logs, and SRP prizes. We also had a themed display each week to entice students to check out books set on a theme. After the dust had settled and we returned to the branch, 508 books had circulated, 104 students signed up for library cards, and 116 students participated in the Summer Reading Program! This is the kind of thing that I love doing. I saw an opportunity for service, worked with my team, and provided something to those students that they may not have had otherwise.

There has been a great response from the kids, parents, and the schools. There's even another area school that wants us to do the same kind of project with them this year because they are in a similar situation!

If you were to hire a public librarian, what skills and/or qualities would you look for in a candidate?

I think that technology skills are invaluable now. Knowing how to use a computer and get on the internet is one thing, but as librarians and information professionals, we need to know how to navigate the sea of endless (and sometimes) useless information. Thatbeing said, I find myself on multiple social media sites often. Ideally, I'd be looking for someone who is not afraid to experiment. Trying new and innovative things is a plus, and I think being able to think outside the box is a great quality to possess. I would also look for someone who has a proven track record of working with others. If you're going to work for me, you're going to have to have a team mindset.

Why are you involved in the Missouri Library Association?

I first joined MLA because of the potential connections that I could make. I went to my first conference without even being a member, and it was worth every penny! Now, I am a full-fledged member, and I go because of the ideas and conversation. Swapping battle scars and life-changing stories has really affected me in a positive way, and there's no way I can replace the friendships I've gained through MLA. I'm looking forward to many more conferences (especially 2015).


LockleyLucy M. Lockley - Collection Development Manager, St. Charles City-County Library District

My name is Lucy Lockley and I am the Collection Development Manager for St. Charles City-County Library District. I manage the selection of all materials (in all formats) for the Adult collection, coordinate my district's readers' advisory training program, and teach collection development and readers' advisory classes for our incoming paraprofessional staff. I have a BA, with a major in History and a minor in Library Science, from Southwest Missouri State University (SMS) in Springfield (now called Missouri State University) and received a Master of Library Service (yes, Service) from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Q1: When/why did you decided that you wanted to be a librarian?

As a child, I was probably what might be called a reluctant reader. Until the age of 13, I really only read for school assignments and the occasional magazine article. I did not spend much time on personal reading for enjoyment before I discovered two books one summer while visiting with my grandparents. One was an illustrated edition of Grimm's Fairy tales and the other told all about the ancient gods and goddess from Greek mythology. I recall that both books had beautiful color pictures which is probably what drew me to them in the first place but it was the stories contained inside which grabbed and held my interest. Once I 'discovered' reading for fun, I never stopped. The topics of these book led me to develop an interest in history which became my favorite subject in high school and was my major when I started college at SMS.

I did not know what I wanted to do but I did know that I was not going to be a teacher or a writer which I understood to be the most common careers for a history major. So for the first two years of college, I was in a quandary as to what I wanted to do when I graduated. At the end of my sophomore year I 'had' to declare a minor which was when I learned that SMS had a Minor in Library Science. I was advised by my mother, my boyfriend (& eventual husband), and my favorite History professor, that I because I liked to read so much I should pick Library Science. I don't think they really knew what it meant to be a librarian but with my very first reference class, I was hooked! In that class, the students were assigned to shadow and assist one of the University library Reference librarians while they worked the desk and I couldn't get enough of helping the students find answers to their questions! I had found my calling and by the beginning of my senior year, had decided I wanted to get my Masters and work in a public library.

Q2: What do you like most about being a Collection Development librarian?

Collection development allows me to select material in a variety of formats and in all topics. This tends to expand my own areas of interest which just makes the job more alluring. The fun part of the job is the 'shopping'; finding new titles to add to the collection. And then, of course, there is the enjoyment to be had from spending everyone's money-- collection development librarians love to shop!. My position also provides me with the chance to continue learning new things and even more importantly, with the opportunity to pass on what I learn to others. I enjoy teaching the collection development class and enthusiastically encourage all of our staff to keep learning about readers' advisory (new authors, titles, genres, tools, and techniques) so they can provide great RA service to our customers.

Q3: What do you think are the biggest challenges in working in a Public library system?

The biggest challenges are the constant and ever-changing technology and, at the present time, the issues presented to libraries and our customers due to the current economy. Keeping up with the demand for material in new formats and trying to maintain a budget can make any job challenging. But those challenges can also make the work interesting as new ideas &/or ways of dealing with things present themselves.

Q4: If you were to hire a Collection Development Office what skills and/or qualities would you look for in a candidate?

A collection development librarian should be: curious, interested in learning about a wide variety of subjects, love reading in all its forms, be committed to serving the customers, and be able to work well with all staff. Good communication skills are essential along with an understanding of budgetary processes and a willingness to keep up with the changing world of libraries, publishing, and vendors. Being able to explain collection development processes, coordinate multiple tasks through to completion, and maintain an attention to detail are also very useful.

Q5: Why are you involved in the Missouri Library Association?

I am a long-term member of MLA and have presented programs on readers' advisory at various conference. MLA is a great way to network with fellow library staff throughout the state and the annual conference offers the chance to meet with staff from other systems and to learn about new ideas, topics, or techniques.



Becky Helbling - Reference Librarian, St. Louis Public Library

Becky HelblingMy name is Becky Helbling and I’m a reference librarian at St. Louis Community College at the Meramec Campus. In the library, my responsibilities include collection development and instruction, both in the classroom and one-on-one at the reference desk. I think instruction is the most important work we do in the reference department at the community college. Each semester, on our campus, we teach well over 100 library instruction sessions for students in courses ranging from English Composition, to Technology for Teachers, to Introduction to World Religions, to Fundamentals of Occupational Therapy, etc. We also offer a one-credit research skills class that’s team- taught by the reference librarians in the department. In addition to teaching research I also serve as a department librarian for a number of academic departments, including Accounting, Behavioral Sciences, Business and Economics, Counseling, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Education.

Q1: When/Why did you decide that you wanted to be a librarian?

Like many librarians I know, it took me quite a while to decide I wanted to be a librarian. In 1989, I graduated from Williams College with a bachelor’s degree in religion. Although the content of the courses and the professors in the department were fascinating, the degree itself did not present an obvious career path to me. Upon graduation, I moved to Vermont and after a few months of searching, secured a position as a circulation specialist at Baker Library of Dartmouth College. I enjoyed my work there, but realized that I would never be eligible for promotion without a degree in library science. It’s puzzling to me now, but pursuing a degree in library science did not occur to me at the time. Instead, I decided to return to school to pursue a degree in teaching. I returned to St. Louis where I earned a master’s of teaching from Washington University. I worked as a middle and high school Spanish teacher for 6 years before it finally dawned on me that I was happiest in my work at the library. So, I returned to school once again to earn a library degree at the University of Missouri and believe I have finally settled in the perfect career.

Q2: What do you like most about being a community college librarian?

I love helping students! I especially love helping those students who may not have been particularly motivated in or well-prepared by their high school experiences, but have made a conscious decision to change their circumstances.

I also appreciate the varied activities that I might undertake on a given day. Here’s how I spent one day last week:

  • 9:30 – 10:45 I taught a class for a teacher education course.

  • 11:00 – 12:15 I taught a class for our college orientation course.

  • 1:00 – 2:45 I finalized some online tutorials available on the college’s web site.

  • 3:00 – 5:00 I attended the campus governance council meeting at which I represent the library faculty.

I love that great balance between spending time with students, spending time working independently, and then spending time with other faculty.

Q3: What do you think are the biggest challenges in working in a community college library?

I’m sure this is not unique to working in a community college library, but one of my biggest challenges is finding enough time to work on all the projects we’ve got going. I would also love more time to reflect. So many days I find myself bouncing from the desk, to a meeting, to a class, without time to reflect and carefully consider the work we are doing.

Q4: If you were to hire a librarian for your institution what skills and/or qualities would you look for in a candidate?

As I said before, I think our most important work happens in the classroom and at the reference desk. I would look for a candidate who loves teaching and who is willing to try out new ideas in the classroom and at the reference desk.

Q5: Why are you involved in the Missouri Library Association?

The Missouri Library Association provides so many venues for professional development, from the fall conference, to access to webinars, to timely information shared over the electronic lists. Also, it offers great cross-pollination among librarians from different types of libraries. We have so much to learn from one another and the Missouri Library Association provides the space for that learning to happen.


Jill Gordon - Librarian, St. Louis Zoo

photo of Jill Gordon, zoo librarianMy name is Jill Gordon and I am the librarian at the Saint Louis Zoo Library and Teacher Resource Center. As Zoo Librarian, I provide information services that support the education, conservation, and research programs of the Saint Louis Zoo. This includes reference, interlibrary loan and collection development. The primary library patrons are Zoo staff members, including animal keepers, curators, veterinarians, research and nutrition staff, instructors, administrators, public relations and marketing staff. In addition, we also provide reference service to the public and have a special collection of loan materials for teachers in the St. Louis metropolitan area. I also manage our digital image collection and serve as the Zoo archivist. I have been a zoo librarian for almost 24 years now. Prior to working at the Zoo, I worked in public libraries in Cape Girardeau and St. Charles, Missouri and spent one year working at the International Library and Museum of Optometry for the American Optometric Association in St. Louis. I have a B.A. in Anthropology from Memphis State University and a Master of Arts in Library Science from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Q1: When/Why did you decide that you wanted to be a librarian?

Like many other librarians, I didn’t know that I wanted to be a librarian right away. I’ve always liked books, but I also like nature and the outdoors a lot, so my first major was Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife. Then I changed my major to English literature, but along the way I was introduced to anthropology and got hooked. After obtaining my B.A. in Anthropology, I soon learned that I would need to continue my education to really be able to make a career of it. I decided to work for a while and ended up getting a job as a reporter/photographer for a daily paper in Arkansas. While there, I went to the library often and it finally occurred to me that I might really enjoy working in a library.

Q2: What do you like most about being a zoo librarian?

I love the variety. There is always something interesting and new to learn about animals. I really like supporting Zoo staff as they work to care for the animals here at the Zoo and also work to make a difference to the future of wild animals. Since we also have a Teacher Resource Center, I have had a lot of fun coordinating the development of Zoocases, our hands-on kits available for loan to teachers and other educators in the St. Louis metropolitan area. We now have about 85 Zoocases on around 30 different topics. And it has definitely been a perk to be able to spend lunch hours out on the Zoo grounds.

Q3: If you were to hire a zoo librarian what skills and/or qualities would you look for in a candidate?

Because zoo librarians are often solo librarians, they need to be able and willing to do a little bit of everything. Budgeting, reference, collection development, cataloging, interlibrary loan, and serving on Zoo-wide committees are among the duties. The ability to work with volunteers is important. A background in zoology, anthropology, conservation biology or related fields would be helpful, but there are lots of opportunities for learning on the job. Flexibility and the desire to keep learning would be important qualities.

Q4: Why are you involved in the Missouri Library Association?

I’ve been a member since 1982 when I began working in public libraries. Being the only professional librarian on the Zoo staff is sometimes a challenge and I do miss working with other librarians every day. Networking is so important and being a member of various professional organizations helps me keep up with what is going on in libraries. I’ve made many connections over the years that have helped me with my job at the Zoo. I work with other zoo librarians and other special librarians, but I’ve also received a lot of help from academic and medical librarians in St. Louis and around the state, and much assistance from the librarians at the Veterinary Library at the University of Missouri-Columbia. I love public libraries and librarians and know how important this organization is to them.

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Eric Deatherage –Public Service Librarian, Crowder College

Eric D photoI'm Eric Deatherage. I am the Public Services Librarian at Crowder College in Neosho, Missouri, one of two librarians, including the director. I am responsible for in-class and one-on-one information literacy instruction, electronic instruction and reference service, library site maintenance, face-to-face reference services, overseeing circulation, and assisting with collection development functions.

I have a MS in Administrative Studies from MSU and a MA in Information Sciences in Learning Technologies from MU.

Q1: When/Why did you decide that you wanted to be a librarian?

I took a bit of time to make the transition to the field, though in hindsight it should have been a "no-brainer" decision. My first experiences in librarianship were at the age of about 10 years old when I would spend my summer breaks helping my mother (a library assistant, at the time) re-shelve books at Cottey College in Nevada, MO (when I wasn't playing hide and go seek in the stacks, that is.)

After doing four years of military service, I got my first library assistant job in Springfield, where I worked in reference services. From there, I worked part-time for a total of 7 years in different libraries, completing my education, and taking a three year break from librarianship somewhere in the middle for full-time employment in another field. Somehow, I always ended up back in librarianship.

I think there were two variables that kept pulling me back to librarianship. The first was the service function of librarianship. Libraries are one of the only places left in society where people who don't know what to do next can show up and say, "I need help" and then somebody helps them, no questions asked, no payment needed. We just help them find the information they need to get through the day, and we do it in a way that empowers them to take control of their situation, whatever that situation may be.

The second variable was the people who work in this field. I have worked in many different libraries. I have tasted what all of those experiences have to offer and have come up with one general truth. Librarians are just nice people. They are fun people to go to work and see every day. When I finally jumped on the librarianship bandwagon, this truth was the deciding factor. I figured that a life where I get to help folks and be in the company of people I like and enjoy being around....well, that's a better life than most people get.

Q2: What do you like most about being a librarian?

I like it when you have a student come in the library scared to death on the first day of classes with a complete inability to find anything or do anything himself. You work with him and help him learn how to teach himself. Then, a couple semesters later, you see him walk past the service desk on a mission, using all the skills you have shown him over his time with you. That feels good.

Q3: What do you think are the biggest challenges in working in a college library?

One of the biggest challenges is doing everything that needs to be done in the most efficient manner possible. At Crowder College, two librarians and two part-time staff members serve a student body population of about 5000 students, depending on the semester. The current economic realities have compounded on the "do more with less" philosophy that has been the mantra of librarianship for decades. In the modern environment, we have to be quicker, more inventive, and just plain smarter about what we do and how we do it. And, as every librarian out there can attest, being smarter is hard work, especially when we were already smart in the first place.

Q4: If you were to hire a public services librarian, what skills and/or qualities would you look for in a candidate?

The ideal public services librarian should have the following character traits: kindness, a desire to serve, inventiveness, natural curiosity, the ability to follow instructions and provide instruction in a clear manner, have a good work ethic, good attention to detail, the ability to effectively listen, and a healthy respect for the needs of others.

Ideal skills set should include: knowledge of all the aspects of library services and the ability to apply that knowledge to real world tasks, have good teaching and public speaking skills, be well read in multiple subjects, and have the ability to coordinate the completion of multiple tasks efficiently and effectively.

Q5: Why are you involved in the Missouri Library Association?

MLA is a great way to keep in touch with your peers across the state. It provides interaction regarding shared issues and concerns that specifically effect librarians. It is also a great outlet to get involved in the activities that impact your profession in a more coordinated way.

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Nadia Ghasedi – Film and Media Archivist

photo of Nadia GhasediMy name is Nadia Ghasedi and I am the Film & Media Archivist at Washington University in St. Louis. As Film & Media Archivist I oversee the activities of the Film & Media Archive, a unit of the Special Collections Department. This includes managing staff, preservation, access, collection development, and outreach. I have been in this position for 2 ½ years. I previously served as the Archive's Cataloging and Preservation Archivist, a position I held for over 3 years. I hold a BA in Communication Arts, Radio-TV-Film and a minor in Classical Humanities from the University of Wisconsin—Madison, a graduate certificate in Film Preservation from the L. Jeffery Selznick School of Film Preservation at the George Eastman House, and will be completing my MA in Information Science & Learning Technologies with an Emphasis in Library Science from University of Missouri—Columbia this spring.

Q1: When/Why did you decide that you wanted to be a librarian?

I actually never thought I would be a librarian. Admittedly, I often played library as a child. The game merely consisted of stamping small pieces of paper and placing them in the backs' of books. Not nearly as thrilling as what actually happens in libraries! Seeing as I was also known to play dog, insisting my mother serve me water in a bowl on the floor, I never read much into it. At some point in my undergraduate career, I recall my sister suggesting I attend library school. Just thought of it panged me. I was one of those undergraduates. The library overwhelmed me and I wanted to avoid it at all costs. I was definitely not an educated library user.

My first experience working in an academic library was at Wash U. I felt like quite the outsider. It my first professional job and I knew very little about libraries. I was completely lost as I sat in meetings knowing that Iliad had to mean something other than what my minor in classics would suggest. With time, I learned a lot, including the value of a library degree. Upon accepting my current position, I felt that I was making a commitment to the library world and with that, I wanted to have a better understanding of the profession as a whole.

Q2: What do you like most about being a film and media archivist?

This is always a tough question to answer as there are so many things I love about my job. My initial interest in film archiving stemmed from my love of film. As an undergraduate, I applied for a job at the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theatre Research, mainly because "film" was in the title. However, my experiences working there throughout college showed me the importance of archives in capturing our cultural and historical heritage. What I particularly like about being a film and media archivist in a library is the focus on the end-user. I am very lucky to work in an extremely supportive environment that values access as much as preservation. I find the focus on access very motivating. It is very rewarding to make inherently restrictive resources accessible.

Q3: What do you think are the biggest challenges in working in a film archives

With the advent of digital technologies, the library world is dealing more and more with challenges that have affected film archives for some time such as funding, copyright, and technological obsolescence.

Q4: If you were to hire a film and media archivist what skills and/or qualities would you look for in a candidate?

Certainly, there are specialized skills and knowledge that are often required for film archivist positions, but, generally speaking, I think it is imperative for a candidate to recognize the need for continual growth and learning. As technology and our users evolve so must we. In order to remain viable we must be flexible and not only expect change, but embrace it. I also think it's extremely important to be a team player in order to ensure that the needs of the organization are met.

Q5: Why are you involved in the Missouri Library Association?

I attended my first MLA conference this fall and was so impressed with panels and the people. Everyone was so welcoming and the opportunities to learn something new were countless. Certainly involvement in professional organizations is essential for professional growth, but MLA is truly a resource. I think we owe it to one another and to those new to the profession to share our knowledge and experiences. It makes us all better.

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Sarah Bean Thompson: Youth Services Manager,
Springfield-Greene County Library District

Sarah Bean Thompson1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself:

My name is Sarah Bean Thompson and I'm the Youth Services Manager at The Library Center in Springfield MO. I oversee both the children’s and teen departments of the library and I have a great staff that supports youth services and provides wonderful programs for kids and teens. I help out with toddler storytime, some teen programs, and my passion is reader's advisory. I’ve been the youth services manager for just a few months (I started in May). Previously I was the Young Adult Librarian at The Library Center for three years. I also worked in children’s for a year before that.   I graduated from the University of North Texas with my Master's in Library Science and my undergrad is in Communications/Radio from Olivet Nazarene University. I wanted to be a radio deejay, then in music business during college. I’m not sure how exactly my path to librarianship came about. After college I came across the ALA’s site called “So You Want To Be A Librarian?” I read the site and thought “this sounds perfect-why didn’t I think of this before?” So when I moved to Springfield in 2006, I immediately applied at the library and was hired to work in the children’s department. Being a librarian is my dream job and it fits me so perfectly. In fact, my first word was “book” so I think I knew I was meant to be a librarian even as a child!   I’m a member of ALA, ALSC and YALSA in addition to MLA. I just finished a term on the Gateway Committee for MASL. I’m currently serving on my second term for YALSA’s Fabulous Films for Young Adults Committee and will start a term on the 2013 Printz Committee in January.

2. What do you like most about being a Youth Manager and what are the biggest challenges in your job?  

I love working with kids and teens. I love reading children’s and YA lit and helping a reader find the next book they’re going to love. I also love seeing the kids and teens come in and build a relationship with the library and the librarians. I get to gush over Harry Potter and geek out to Wizard Rock bands, or read comics and then suggest them to a reader who is looking for a book like Wimpy Kid, or dress up in a prom dress for a Masquerade Ball. Every day I’m amazed at the stuff I get to do-and get to call it work!   The biggest challenge I face is marketing to kids and teens. We serve a busy population and I think very often the library gets overlooked for programs, especially once they’re tweens and teens. They think of us for storytime and that’s it-and we have so much more to offer! Finding the right time to reach busy kids so that they can come to a program or event at the library can be hard. Also, we’re in a location that is very dependent on transportation, so we have to take that into consideration when planning programs. Will the kids be able to get here? Will this be something parents would be willing to drive them to? We have to compete with so much else going on in their lives and we always have to market what the library has to offer.

3. Tell us about your blog (GreenBeanTeenQueen): How did it start, why do you do it, and what kind of response are you getting?  

I started my blog in 2008, but didn’t really start consistently writing on it until 2009. I started the blog because I wanted to review books I was reading and have a place to keep track of everything I’d read. It was also a great place to compile a bunch of books for booktalks. I’d seen other blogs and thought “I could do that!” so I did. I never imagined the response I would get. I have around 1500 followers which amazes me. I never thought people would actually read my blog and I’m still surprised when they do. I get recognized at ALA conferences and at other libraries because of my blog, which is always surprising and makes me laugh a little that people even know who I am-I mean, I’m just me, I’m not that cool! But the response to my blog has been overwhelming and continues to be. It’s been a wonderful way to connect with other readers, librarians, and authors. The blogging community is so fun to be part of it and I love connecting with other readers who are passionate about the same things you are.

3. If you were to hire a Children's or YA Librarian what skills and/or qualities would you look for in a candidate?

First off, I would look for someone who is passionate and excited about children’s and YA services in the library. I also would look for someone who knows children’s & YA lit and keeps up with it-what are they reading? What books would they recommend for various ages and genres? Reader’s advisory is such an important part of youth services and I think it’s important that if you work with that age group, you need to keep up with the literature. I would also ask about their ideas for programs as programming is another key part of youth services. You want someone who is creative and flexible with programs.

5. Why are you involved in the Missouri Library Association?

It’s important for networking and meeting other librarians who are doing what you do. Librarians can’t function alone-we need support from others and it is so important to have that support from other librarians who you can bounce ideas off of and gain new ones. I love meeting other librarians who share my passion for youth services and who don't think you're crazy for the books you read or the programs you plan. Those connections are invaluable!  

Contact Sarah:

Sarah Bean Thompson
Youth Services Manager
The Library Center
882-0714 X 0555

St. Charles City-County Library District
Spencer Road Branch
427 Spencer Road
St. Peters, MO 63376

Posted September 21, 2011

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Julie Schwartz - Children’s & Reference Librarian

Q: First, please tell us a little bit about yourself:  Name, employment & current responsibilities, education, etc.:

Julie SchwartzA:  My name is Julie Schwartz, I'm a Children's/Reference Librarian at the Deer Run Branch of the St.Charles City-County Library District. Ihave a BA in English from St. Louis University and an MLS from the University of Missouri. The Deer Run Branch is our outreach branch, so the children's department (me and two fantastic parapros) does outreach visits to preschools and daycares county-wide. We also have a full-slate of in-branch children's programming for kids from infancy to 5th grade. I personally take care of our 2-year-old story times and school-age programming. Beyond that, I take care of all of the other fun stuff that children's librarians the world over get to do; of which weeding is a particular favorite. Since I work at a smaller "general purpose" branch, where the reference desk is both children's and adult, I get to answer questions about car repair and legal forms in between science fair and Magic Tree House requests, which makes life extra interesting.
I started out in the library world at Kirkwood Public Library as a part-time Children's Library Assistant. I was very fortunate there to work with supportive librarians who allowed me to get a taste of being a "real" children's librarian, including doing programming for all ages, purchasing, weeding, outreach and much, much more. I worked part-time at KPL from 2002 to 2007 and in that time earned my MLS from Mizzou. While still in library school I was appointed to the Caldecott Committee by then-ALSC president Gretchen Wronka of Hennepin County PL, who randomly called to interview me when writing an article about new ALSC members. I felt like I won the lottery! My year on the Caldecott Committee was incredibly rewarding, both personally and professionally. The winning illustrator that year (2006) was Chris Raschka, for "The Hello, Goodbye Window" written by Norton Juster. One of my favorite parts was getting daily visits from the UPS man, bringing me boxes and boxes and boxes of lovely new books to read.
After obtaining my degree, I worked for a year as the Regional Youth Services Librarian at the Carpenter Branch of the St. Louis Public Library, another rewarding experience with a great group of people. From there I moved to my current job in July 2008.
I am a member of ALA, ALSC and MLA. I am currently the Selection Chair of the Missouri Building Block Committee and will be moving on up to Awards Chair in the fall.
Q1: When did you decide that you wanted to be a librarian / children's librarian?
A1: Well, I should have figured it out much earlier than I did. I was always a voracious reader and have always, even as a child loved reading aloud to others. I have fond memories of reading Roald Dahl books to my little brother on lazy Saturday mornings. I never really outgrew children's books. I was still re-reading Betsy-Tacy and Ramona books well into middle and high school. I discovered Jon Scieszka's "The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales" as a teenager and that renewed my love (passion?) for picture books. However, it took being down-sized from a mind-numbing job proofreading medical journals, and some prodding from a high school friend who was in library school before I finally realized that I was a children's librarian, and that I might as well make it official.
Q2: What do you like most about being a Children's librarian?

A2:   Oh, there are so many things I love about being a Children's Librarian. I think my favorite part is programming--both in the library and out. I love reading stories, telling stories, singing songs, and getting kids of all ages excited about books.
Q3:  What do you think are the biggest challenges in working in a Public Library or working as a Children's Librarian?
A3:   The part of my job that I've always had the most trouble with is when I encounter those kids who are falling, or in danger of falling, through the cracks. Sometimes these are the toddlers whose parents let them roam the library free while they're on Facebook, or lonely tweens who show up to stay all day without a lunch, or the teen-aged dropouts who come to the library instead of going to school. I've encountered versions of these kids at every library I've worked at, and it never gets easier. I sometimes wonder if I need to go back to school for a social work degree.

Q4: If you were to hire a Children's Librarian what skills and/or qualities would you look for in a candidate?

A4:  Here's what comes to mind first: creativity, enthusiasm, energy, storytelling ability, the ability to multi-task, and patience, patience, patience to start. Another incredibly important skill a children's librarian absolutely must have is flexibility. You have to be able to improvise and think quickly on your feet, for the many occasions when things don't go as planned...when your paid performer doesn't show up, when a bus-full of preschool kids show up on the wrong day, or simply when the average age of kids that show up for your program is 4 years younger than what you planned. The show must always go on!

Q5: Why are you involved in the Missouri Library Association?

A5:   I'm a member of the Missouri Library Association because I think it's crucial to not lose sight of the fact that that we're not in our own little library bubble--there are people across the state and across the country that are running into the same problems, planning the same kinds of programs, etc. Why not pool our resources? Being a member of the Building Block committee and going to conferences and trainings are great ways to do that.

Posted August 9, 2011

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Tracy Stout: Missouri Millennial Librarian and
Future Face of the Missouri Library Association

Tracy StoutAfter attending a panel session of contributed papers about Millennial Librarians at the 2011 Annual Conference of the American College & Research Libraries (ACRL) in Philadelphia in April, I went on a search to find an archetypical Missouri Millennial Librarian. I wanted to know if that person would express similar perspectives as those attributed to Millennial Librarians that were discussed during the ACRL Contribute Papers panel session. In particular, I was looking for a Missouri Millennial Librarian who was a member of the Missouri Library Association (MLA), and willing to share insights into what Missouri Millennial Librarians might uniquely contribute to the librarian profession in the state of Missouri.

I quickly found a representative Millennial Librarian and MLA member at the academic institution where I am employed, Missouri State University (MSU) in Springfield. Her name is Tracy Stout. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll report that I’m a “Baby Boomer” librarian who made a mid-life career change and moved from Indiana to Missouri about four years ago. Tracy is a native Missourian from Ava, who has part Cherokee tribal heritage. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from the College of the Ozarks, a Master’s Degree in industrial/organizational psychology from Missouri State University, and a Master’s Degree in Library Science from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Tracy currently holds the position of Assistant Professor, Reference and Instruction Librarian at Missouri State University, Meyer Library, where she started in January 2008.

Nancy Pearl and Tracy StoutTracy is a three years veteran member of MLA. She said, “I joined MLA so I can stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the region and with state issues. Librarians on the east coast can have completely different experiences from here in the Midwest.” She enjoys the “local networking,” and has found that when she attends national American Library Association (ALA) conferences that MLA often has gatherings there for MLA members. Tracy said she’s attended several MLA Fall Conferences. And, one of her favorite memories of MLA conferences was when she stood in a long line to get an autographed action figure from librarian and author Nancy Pearl, only to find that the last action figure was given away to the person in line immediately in front of her. Tracy lamented that she missed out on getting an autographed doll, but she asked Nancy Peal to join her in a photograph that was taken, and she was happy to receive that instead.

Tracy is also actively involved in ALA. She is a member of the ALA, ACRL Division and the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of ALA. She is presently chairperson for the New Members Round-Table (NMRT), Membership Pavilion Committee. In 2009, she was one of 107 librarians with less than five years of experience chosen nationwide to participate in ALA’s Emerging Leaders Program. This program enables newer librarians from across the country to participate in problem-solving working groups; to gain an inside look into ALA structure, and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity. Tracy is currently a part of ALA’s Discovering Librarianship Recruitment Program, an initiative to recruit ethnically diverse persons into the field of librarianship.

AvatarTracy finds time for hobbies in addition to having an active professional life. These hobbies are reflected by the avatars that she has used in designing and maintaining more than a dozen subject LibGuides as part of her responsibilities for the MSU Meyer Library, Reference and Government Information Services Department. Her two hobbies are race car driving (in the semi-professional sport of drag car racing) and ballroom dancing. Tracy’s librarian responsibilities include answering reference questions at the reference desk, instructing in “one-shot” library presentations, serving as collaborator with faculty and students in Learning Communities, and teaching a one-credit information literacy course.

Tracy in her work life sees only “a slight difference” between herself and her older colleagues. As a “digital native” her natural inclination is to seek databases and internet websites or resources first, although regardless of age she says “a good librarian will know which resources to start with to find information.” At work, she can also be seen “multi-tasking” with three different databases open at the same time plus Goggle Scholar and maybe something else, as well.

Tracy is excited about the changes that she sees in the future for libraries. “Libraries will have to change with the changing technology…and I see this as opportunities.” According to Tracy, “Librarians can be at the forefront of the changes, which will give them opportunities to be more connected with students.” She said students still need librarians because “they are tech savvy, but they’re not always critical thinkers, and librarians can help them think critically about the information that they’re bombarded with all the time.”

In conclusion, I found Tracy to have many of the perspectives and traits of the Millennial Librarians that were a hot topic at the ACRL Conference. But Tracy has a uniqueness all her own, and she represents a future face of MLA.

submitted by Grace Jackson-Brown, Member, MLA Membership Committee,
Assistant Professor of Library Science at Missouri State University

Posted May 24, 2011

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