Featured Alumna for March – Molly Keener!

Photograph by Ken Bennett. Copyright Wake Forest University.

This month’s featured alumna is Molly Keener! Molly graduated from UNCG in December of 2006 and currently serves as the Scholarly Communication Librarian at Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University. She was also recently recognized as an ALA Emerging Leader for 2011! (Several other UNCG alumni have been recognized as Emerging Leaders, including Lauren Pressley and  Lynda Kellam, to name a couple!) Read on to learn more about Molly and why she is a great example of a UNCG alumna an Emerging Leader!

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

I was a bookseller at Barnes & Noble in Winston-Salem for 18 months before I started graduate school. During that time, I also explored a possible career in residential construction interior design, working part-time for a contracting firm in the Greensboro area. I visited different vendors and showrooms, selecting everything from light fixtures to bath tile, granite countertops to appliances, paint to cabinets. It was fun and challenging, and one of our homes was a Gold Award Winner in the 2004 Greensboro Parade of Homes! However, I realized that my passion was for connecting people with information, and I quit my part-time job when I submitted my application to UNCG.

2. What was your first library job?

I was a student worker in the circulation department of Davis Library while an undergraduate at UNC-Chapel Hill. The summer after my first semester in library school I interned at Coy C. Carpenter Library at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, where I returned as a reference librarian in my first professional position in October 2006.

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

Friendships with classmates and faculty; walking to Tate Street for coffee or sushi; Dr. Kovacs’s special libraries class field trips; Dr. Carmichael’s reference class worksheets that had me camped out in Jackson Library for hours; the beauty of walking through campus on spring evenings; the positive energy of being on campus, solidifying my desire to work in academic libraries; the joy of rediscovering beloved books from childhood while working as a GA in the Teaching Resources Center!

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

I am the Scholarly Communication Librarian at the Z. Smith Reynolds Library, Wake Forest University. I wear a lot of different hats depending on if I’m working with faculty, graduate students or undergraduates, and I love that I never know for certain what my day will hold! I handle questions on copyright, author rights and open access, and manage collections in our institutional repository, administer the open access publication fund and work with the Graduate School’s ETD (electronic theses and dissertations) program. I also teach a 1-credit hour information literacy class for undergraduates, and am the liaison to the Mathematics and Health & Exercise Science departments.

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

Absolutely! At my library, known as ZSR, I am currently in the midst of planning two annual spring events: a dinner honoring faculty authors, editors and artists that is co-sponsored by the Provost’s office, research office, and ZSR; and, the Senior Showcase, an event launched last year to highlight exemplary undergraduate senior thesis or senior project research. Beyond ZSR, as a member of the ALA Emerging Leaders Class of 2011, I am busy working with my team on a project assessing webinar series for the ALA Learning Round Table, the findings of which will be presented at ALA Annual in June. I am also one of the expert presenters for the ACRL Scholarly Communication 101 Road Show program, and I am gearing up for co-presenting two workshops between now and early June.

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

With respect to my area of interest, scholarly communication (SC), the profession has changed dramatically in the four years since I graduated. In 2006, there were few librarians in dedicated SC positions, and when I was asked to evaluate and redesign Carpenter Library’s SC support, my first thought was, “Scholarly communication? What’s that exactly?” Although concerted work in SC began in the early 2000s, the area was itself still burgeoning when I graduated. I am the first person to serve as the Scholarly Communication Librarian at Wake Forest (starting in October 2009), and in the past year, Florida, Syracuse and UNC-Chapel Hill have all posted jobs for new or recently created SC positions. The growing numbers of open access journals, repositories and policies (institutional and funder) is driving hard, honest conversations with faculty and publishers. The demand for training in SC issues has led to the creation of programs such as the ACRL Scholarly Communication 101 workshop, and SC-themed discussion groups and presentations have become conference standards.

Broadening my perspective, trying to note all the ways the profession has changed is almost as futile as trying to count stars. The rise of smartphones, ereaders and tablets is fundamentally changing how we engage with information, as are services such as Twitter and YouTube, and the various ways libraries are creating and customizing services around technological evolutions are exciting. The recent outcry over the HarperCollins 26 lend limit on ebooks is a prime example of how stakeholders are attempting to salvage quickly outmoded models in the face of exponential change. Certainly the economic recession that hit in 2008 has taken its toll on libraries, and the ripple effect has not stopped…and likely won’t for quite some time. I’ve lost count of how many times people have declared that “[insert-whatever-is-flashy-here] will be the death of libraries!” and every time, I laugh. We won’t die, but you can bet that we will evolve. Maybe not as fast as we should, and there will be failures, but libraries will continue to grow and change.

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

Find your passion and make connections!

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