SLIS alumna Cara Stone (MLS ‘11) is the Faculty Development and Instruction Librarian at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa. While at SLIS, Cara was President of the American Library Association-Student Chapter at SLIS. The ALA-SC won national chapter of the year (2011) for accomplishments during her tenure in 2010.
In a recent email interview Cara told us about her job and shared tips for current students. Her responses:
Main Job Duties:
I work with the faculty and staff to support learning in a variety of ways. As an instruction librarian, I partner with faculty as their embedded librarian, collaboratively designing instruction sessions and assignments to meet University standards and benchmarks for student learning. I work with students both in class and provide online support through their CMS (Blackboard). Several times throughout the semester, faculty members bring their students to the library for library instruction or research days. In addition to the embedded work I am doing, we also have instructors interested in general orientation sessions (one-shots); these are usually sprinkled throughout the semester, depending on assignments and course structure. As the faculty development part of my title indicates, I design and deliver instruction to faculty members in the form of workshops or classes throughout each semester. These workshops focus on current topics in academia and ways the library can help support faculty instruction. As is the nature of smaller, private institutions, I also serve as the liaison to the Nursing Department, spend time working at the reference desk, and do anything else that happens to come up during the course of the day.
Favorite Aspects of your Job:
One of my favorite aspects of this position is that I am able to work directly with the students, both in class and at the reference desk, to help them be more successful; it is very rewarding and I enjoy being able to draw from my "past life" as an educator in the public schools and continue to apply those skills to the teaching I am doing now. I am also excited about the opportunity to work with faculty, both in their courses and to support their professional growth through library programming.
What you took away from SLIS:
When I was applying for positions (and even before I began the job search process) I knew there were several factors that would come into play for me to find position that was a good fit. It was important for me to find an institution that aligned with my philosophy as an educator and as a librarian. Also, I was interested in returning to my home state (Iowa) to be closer to family and friends. In my second semester at SLIS, I knew finding a position (especially one that met the criteria listed above), was going to be tricky given the economic climate. I worked hard to gain a wide range of professional experiences, engaged with those around me by being involved in student groups (eventually assuming leadership roles), and I began to build bridges back to Iowa. I sought out mentors in libraries around Iowa, attended regional conferences (which meant juggling classes and work with a few long road trips), and eventually was offered an internship at an academic library in Iowa as part of my last semester's coursework through IU. While completing my internship, my top priorities were to gain as much real-world experience as possible and to make applying for jobs my "full-time job." I subscribed to as many different listservs as possible and my RSS feed was bursting with job posting notifications. From there I worked to narrow which positions I applied for by matching my experience with the job descriptions. I also researched each institution to learn more about their students, faculty, and goals and incorporated that information into my cover letters and resume. One of the most important things I kept in mind when sending out job application materials was not to say why the job was a good fit for me, but to craft my materials to show the search committee why I was a good fit for them. I would advise current students to be as active as possible, gain as much professional experience as they can while at SLIS, to take advantage of the many opportunities SLIS and Bloomington have to offer, and to seek out opportunities outside of SLIS to get as well-rounded of an experience as possible.
Posted October 18, 2011