Featured Alumna: Summer Selz

Our Featured Alumni Profiles are back!
October’s Featured Alumna is Summer (Batton) Selz! Summer received her MLIS from UNCG in December 2008 and went on to join Visionary Technology in Library Solutions in Virginia as a Quality Assurance Librarian. Read on to learn more about Summer!

1. Had you worked in other areas before entering library school?

Yes, I worked for a year as a paralegal for a criminal defense attorney. It was a great way to save money for grad school, and the side bonus was a great behind-the-scenes look at all the criminals in my hometown. That made it quite easy to leave and move to Greensboro.

2. What do you remember most about your time in the UNCG LIS program?

I remember a feeling of belonging in the LIS program such as I have never experienced in any other academic setting. Fellow students and my professors, I knew each of them and they knew me, and we all loved being a part of the LIS career path with each other. We would talk about current issues in library technology or the latest episode of How I Met Your Mother, not because we were stuck in a class together, but because we were energetic about life and our future. I consider the faculty and students of class 2008 and 2009 some of my heroes.

3. What was your first library job?

I worked as a technical services grunt for 3 years at Virginia Tech during my undergrad in English; however, my first “big girl” library job after graduating with my MLIS was and is as a Quality Assurance Librarian for VTLS, Inc. (Visionary Technology in Library Solutions). VTLS is an international ILS developer and marketer with a customer base of more than 900 libraries in 37 countries. We are the ONLY ILS vendor that already supports FRBR and RDA scenarios 1 and 2.

4. What is your current position and what does it entail?

I specialize in testing and certifying our circulation and serials functionality according to MARC21 and ISO 9001:2000 standards. It involves a lot of rigorous, anal-retentive testing of our software, reporting bugs and re-designing any badly designed or overly complex software.

My job is to make librarian software easy to use and current. When software is created from the mind of a developer, it often works the way a developer thinks. As you might imagine, that is almost never the easiest or most appropriate way for libraries to use it. My job is to use, revise, reuse and eventually approve the final product for release to libraries.

5. Do you have any projects going on that you’re particularly excited about?

Absolutely! The Hong Kong Public Library is one of the largest in the world and goes live with our software in June 2011! Many improvements are being added to the ILS at their request, especially in the area of circulation, so I am very busy making sure all their requests get implemented into the software correctly.  There are at least 60 designs being written and developed, so that keeps me busy!

6. How do you feel the profession has changed since you graduated from UNCG?

The buzz technology from when I was at UNCG has changed. Second Life, Twitter, Facebook, web 2.0 technologies have either blossomed in libraries or faded. New buzzwords like RDA getting their chance to shine. I think the recession has hit libraries very hard, so profession hasn’t advanced quite as much as in times of economic growth, but I do think there is an evolution going on in the profession. Libraries are looking less and less for traditional, classically trained librarians and looking for librarian/computer analyst hybrids. People who can maintain networks, databases, configure servers AND perform library tasks are a valuable commodity today and even more so in the future.

7. Anything else you’d like to say to the UNCG Alumni:

When I look at technology today, I feel old. Like someone who’s seen decades and decades go by. Did I really live 20 years without a cell phone? How did my family NOT have a computer when I was 10? Technology is changing fast. Not just fast, but exponentially faster than it did when we were in school. It’s hard to keep up, but I truly believe that librarians who want to stay relevant must make the effort to be a part of relevant and emerging technology. In this economy, that’s one of the fastest ways to improve job security.

 

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