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Naomi House’s interview with success story Ann.
Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Ann Marie: My answer is a bit more complicated than most. My story is more about how I arrived at the idea of exploring career paths outside of the traditional library setting.
Currently I have two jobs. By day, I tackle reference and general library operations at ASU’s Architecture and Environmental Design Library. By night, don a different disguise as an instructor of introductory composition (ENG 102) at a local community college.
Upon graduation, my goal was to pursue something that incorporated what I fundamentally enjoyed about library work: helping others, and engaging in the research process. I had previously interned for the university’s undergraduate library instruction department and thoroughly enjoyed this hands-on experience with students. Working with the composition instructors on assignment lesson plans was invigorating and I wished for some way I could do that even more. I found that the research skills we learn in library school translate well to an ENG 102 context which encourages students to learn how to find, analyze, and best incorporate outside sources into their essays.
So I took the road less traveled and diverged from the library path into academia. I started sending my resume out to the English Department Heads of community colleges in my area, requesting adjunct work teaching ENG 102.
I was lucky to receive a response right away from an encouraging department head that was willing to give me a chance. She saw potential in my literacy instruction background, and let me begin the process by shadowing and assisting an ENG 102 course. One semester later, I am currently teaching my own course in which I developed my own syllabus, curriculum, and lesson plan. I am still astonished to have my name on the course catalog. So by day, I continue to help students find the sources that their instructors require; by night, I am that instructor requiring a variety of carefully selected source types.
Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Ann Marie: Well, not to be biased, but the library where I work is, hands down, the most gorgeous library on the Arizona State University campus.
Additionally, one of my closest friends attends the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and I really enjoyed roaming the halls of the Irving K. Barber Learning Center during my visits. (Or perhaps I was most entranced by their ASRS!)
Lastly, here in my hometown of Phoenix, we have a beautiful public library branch called Burton Barr Central Library, designed by acclaimed architect Will Bruder. (Working at an architecture themed library has really increased my awareness of design!)
Naomi: Favorite book?
Ann Marie: Right now I am hopelessly in love with Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, but in general you can put anything by Kurt Vonnegut or Mark Twain in my hands and I am sure to be happy.
Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Ann Marie: Growing up in the digital/Web 2.0/Google age has created a generation of users that not only want information, but have grown to expect it in an easy to find and readily available format. I love that libraries help users to easily find all that they need. A researcher’s mental energy should be reserved for generating unique and innovative ideas; not wasted spending hours searching for statistics.
I’m odd in that I actually find those hours of searching for statistics to be fun. J
Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Ann Marie: I find http://agoogleaday.com to be the quintessential librarian time waster.
In general, I am very big on staying up to date with online search tools. I teach Google search literacy to all my ENG 102 students: http://www.google.com/
Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Ann Marie: Well, if one is interested in pursuing the adjunct teaching path, here are a couple of tidbits:
1) While county and state requirements can vary, in my particular district all one needs to teach at the community college level is a Master’s Degree (in the subject discipline), OR a Master’s degree in any discipline, plus upper division credit hours in the discipline being taught. Did you get your Masters in Library Science, but have a Bachelor’s in History? You’re eligible to teach history courses! Additionally, many community colleges are now offering certificates in Library Information Technology. Perhaps you can teach Library Science!
2) Again, policies can vary by location, but generally applying to teach as an adjunct is easier than one thinks. Don’t wait for a job ad to post, just write the department head of the discipline of interest and sell yourself!
Ann Marie Leonard currently works as a Library Information Specialist Lead at the Architecture and Environmental Design Library and as an Adjunct Instructor for Scottsdale Community College. She received her Bachelor’s in English Literature from ASU and her Master’s in Library Science from UofA online. Her specialties include instruction and reference services. Her research interests include digital ethnography and the role libraries have in an online culture. She enjoys art, local music, comedy, reading, and cats. She can be found online here: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/