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Kenlee Ray Fellows Ann MacNamara '14 and Colin Andrews '14 pause by the Lilly Library stacks.

Hands-on library career exploration

March 06, 2014

With the Kenlee Ray Library and Archives Fellows program, Earlham’s library is once again leading the way.

Each spring two students are selected for the fellowship program, which combines a 135-hour practicum, a one-credit tutorial, and upon completion, a $1,500 stipend less taxes.

“This is hands-on career exploration that goes along with the liberal arts education,” says Amy Bryant, associate library director. “Earlham has a long history of having an extraordinarily large number of graduates going into library science. Each year students would ask us for this type of opportunity, and each year we had to reimagine a program. We were seeing this so often that we needed a more regular way of handling it.”

For nine hours for 15 weeks, students have an experiential immersion with units in archives, research and information literacy instruction, technical services, the science library, and library administration. For one hour each week, students have a text-based, one-credit conversation with a librarian or archivist. Other components of the program include job-seeker training, self-reflection, and engagement with alumni working in the field.

“We wanted to break it up into modules, so students get a general overview of all the different sides of librarianship,” Bryant says. “They also talk to and develop relationships with the librarians to see how we came to our careers.”

Learning by doing

Already, Fellows Ann MacNamara ’14 and Colin Andrews ’14 have researched and recommended book purchases. In addition, they are collaborating in a semester-long project to evaluate the use of space in the libraries. They are gathering information from students and will make recommendations for ways to improve library spaces for research and creating projects.

“I like helping people find information, which is a very important part of a librarian’s job, and I am interested in the technical side,” MacNamara explains.

Andrews says the program is comprehensive.

“It’s not a simulation,” he says. “We are put in real tasks in almost every department. I feel like this is a beacon for Earlham as far as career development that brings together both the practicum and tutorial side. This is a well-integrated program in terms of taking learning into vocation.”

Bryant says that one of the reasons for the large number of Earlham graduates pursuing library careers is the strength of the College’s library instruction program.

“Bibliographic instruction was born at Earlham College,” Bryant says. “Evan Farber was a pioneer in the current model of librarians and faculty working together to make sure students have the resources they need to do the research the faculty member wants. Earlham students are exposed so often and so well to our library instruction program.” Farber was Earlham’s College Librarian from 1962 to 1994.

The fellowship program is funded by a generous donation from Kenlee Ray, who attended Earlham in 1967 and went on to a distinguished career at the World Bank, where she retired as Senior Information Officer.

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