Lauren Pressley, author of So You Want to be a Librarian

This interview is over 1 year old and may no longer be up to date or reflect the interviewee/interviewees’ positions

 My interview with the multi-talented Lauren Pressley, author of So You Want to be a Librarian

Naomi:  How did you come to work with
Lauren:  I’ve been a fan of since I first learned of it, and even pledged to support it’s first successful campaign, Oral Literature in Africa. I thought the extent of my involvement would be contributing to books as they began campaigns, which I was glad to do. As a librarian, I’m really interested in open access to information and simplifying the ereading experience. As an avid ereader, I’m really interested in encouraging publishers to provide ways to access DRM free files that will work on whichever ebook reader I will use in the future. It bothers me to no end that every time I purchase an ebook it’s only going to work on the device I’ve purchased it for, and not a reader from another company. is a solution to all of this!

So, when my publisher, Rory Litwin of Library Juice Press, approached me about starting a campaign with, I was thrilled. Rory is the rights holder for the book, so he worked with to set up the campaign, and I’ve actively worked with both Rory and with the folks at to help get the word out.

Naomi:  How can librarians get involved in
Lauren:  Librarians can get involved with in a number of ways! There are several campaigns going on, so anyone can donate to those or help get the word out about them.  Once you’ve signed up for an account with the service, you can put any book on a wishlist to become Unglued. And any librarian interested in open access, alternative copyright models, or simplifying the ebook experience might like to help spread the word.  Professionally, of course, librarians can make sure that Unglued books make it into their collections.

If a librarian happens to be an author, they could talk with the rights holder(s) for their work to see if they’d be willing to try an campaign. There is more information on the website for those who are interested.

Naomi:  Tell us more about your experiences with ALA and LITA?
Lauren:  I believe strongly in the importance and value of a professional organization. ALA is the organization we have that encompasses the entire profession. It is going to be the place to be if you’re interested in the work of the field as a whole. I got involved with LITA when my job was much more technology-centric. I still work with technology, and understanding technology gives me an edge in my work, but it’s less central to my day-to-day work. Even so, I still find LITA to be a good professional home. LITA is the place within ALA that is focused on technology and how it impacts what we do. That’s a conversation I like being part of.

I have been involved with ALA and LITA since library school, where I threw my hat in the ring in for anything I could be considered for for a number of years in order to learn as much as I could about the organization. Over time I’ve become more intentional about what I volunteer with, hopefully using what I’ve learned to find the positions that make the most sense given my background and skill set. I’m an ALA Counselor, which means I’m part of the governing body for ALA. I felt this made sense, and was thrilled to be elected, because I’m very interested in a systemic approach, looking at the field from the largest views. Council is an excellent place for that type of work. I also ran for, and was again thrilled to be elected to, the LITA Board of Directors. The Board of Directors governs the work of LITA. I’m becoming more interested in policy over time, and my involvement has moved in that direction.

Naomi:  Can you speak a little about your blog?
Lauren:  I’ve been blogging in some form or another since 2002, but the blog that I currently maintain is the library-themed one that I’ve been keeping up since 2005. The topics have moved around a bit over time. In library school, it was focused on whatever I was studying or learning about at the time. As I developed a bit more professionally, and began to specialize, it’s become a bit more focused. I write a lot about ideas surrounding future of libraries, education, and information, but I also write practical posts about instruction, technology, and academic librarianship.

Naomi:  Favorite book(s)?
Lauren:  I really like to read. Professionally, I think anyone considering academic librarianship should read The Innovative University, by Clayton M. Christensen and Henry J. Eyring. I also finally got around to Tom Rath’s StrengthsFinder 2.0, which I found very useful. As like many of my library friends, I really enjoyed Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life–so many interesting facts in one book! And as for literature, I recently loved Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot and Dave Egger’s Zeitoun.

Naomi:  Are there any blogs or websites we should be following?
Lauren:  For those interested in higher ed, I’d always recommend The Chronicle, Inside Higher Ed, and reading from EDUCAUSE. I also regularly read ACRLog for a more library-centric perspective. As for the field, I follow a lot of ALA publications, as well as In The Library With A Lead Pipe and Hack Library School. And I still use an RSS reader for a large number of personal, library focused blogs, and follow a lot of people on Twitter and in Facebook.

Lauren Pressley is the Associate Director for Learning & Outreach at Virginia Tech, a new position for her.  Previously she was the Head of Instruction and an Associate Librarian at the Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University. In this role, Lauren collaboratively managed the library’s instruction program, planned and managed professional development for librarians who teach, administers the LIB100/200 program, represented library instruction to various audiences, and serveed as library representative on teaching-related committees including the Teaching and Learning Center advisory board.

Lauren’s professional interests include strategic thinking, advocacy, the library’s role in the teaching and research missions of the university, and mentoring new and emerging professionals in the field. She particularly likes helping people think about the changing information landscape and what it means for them as consumers and producers of information.

Lauren earned her MLIS from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and BAs in Philosophy and Small Group and Interpersonal Communication from North Carolina State University. She’s published the books So You Want To Be a Librarian and Wikis for Libraries, serves in elected positions on the American Library Association Council and the Library and Information Technology Association Board of Directors, and is a member of the Horizon Project Advisory Board. She has been recognized as an ALA Emerging Leader, a Library Journal Mover & Shaker, and with a UNCG School of Education Distinguished Alumni Early Career award. She frequently writes and presents on education, instruction, technology, and the future of libraries. Lauren blogs at Lauren’s Library Blog, tweets as @laurenpressley, and can be reached at


reposted from 10/23/12 and 4/18/13 and formerly titled Lauren Pressley, author of So You Want to be a Librarian  …In Six