Our first featured alumnus for 2010 is Amanda Click! Amanda graduated from the UNCG LIS program in May 2008, and she has been keeping busy ever since! Currently, Amanda is an Instruction and Reference Librarian at The American University in Cairo. Read on to learn more about her experiences!
- Had you worked in other areas before entering library school?
I worked in customer service for almost three years between undergrad and grad school, which really helped inspire me to go back to school.
- What made you want to go to library school?
I recall that I was almost finished with my Bachelor’s degree when I found out that MLIS programs existed, and the idea caught my interest. Although I decided to go to work for a couple years after graduating, I discovered the LIS program at UNCG soon after I decided it was time for me to begin my graduate studies. Initially, I was going to be in the Asheville distance cohort, but then decided to move to Greensboro and become a fulltime student. I knew that I wanted to be in academia, and enjoyed tracking down information as well as working with the public. I also have a borderline unreasonable need to organize everything within my reach. A career in librarianship just made sense.
What do you remember most about your time in the UNCG LIS program?
The people that I worked and studied with were incredible. My fellow students were so interesting and diverse, and I learned a great deal from them. The faculty members were truly talented people, and always made me feel more like a colleague than an insignificant student. Also, I still often call upon my mentors and friends from Jackson Library to provide guidance as I navigate the first years of my career.
What is your current position and what does it entail?
I came to The American University in Cairo (AUC) as an Instruction and Reference Librarian. The majority of my responsibilities fall under instruction: I teach two sections of LALT 101, a semester long, one hour information literacy course that is required of all AUC students. I also coordinate our one shot instruction sessions, and teach these in a variety of subjects including rhetoric, history, and English. Currently, I am serving as acting head of the instruction department, as we conduct a search for a new department head.
Do you have an accomplishment so far in your library career that you are most proud of?
Last spring, fellow alumna Claire Walker and I gave a presentation at the 2009 LOEX Annual Conference. We’ve been conducting research on the instruction training for new librarians, both in graduate school and on the job. We felt that the presentation was very well received, and were pleased with the paper which will be published in the conference proceedings. In fact, we are currently expanding our work for a presentation at the Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference (LILAC) in Shannon, Ireland next spring.
Do you have any projects coming up that you’re really excited about?
In October, I was fortunate to attend a training session with Nancy Fried Foster, Director of Anthropological Research for the River Campus Libraries at the University of Rochester. She led an undergraduate research project with which you might be familiar, in which several types of studies were conducted in order to find out what exactly students do when they write research papers. I am leading a team from the AUC library that is, along with three other American-style universities, conducting a pilot research project based on this study. We are excited to discover how our students use the library and other campus spaces, and how they conduct academic research. In addition, I am interested to see the similarities and differences between our Arab students and the American students from the original study.
What would you like to accomplish in the next five years?
Although my contract with AUC will be over in the summer of 2010, I’m not ready to leave Egypt yet and will likely extend. I’ve also learned that I love living abroad, and am not likely to come back to the States any time soon. I do, however, make a concerted effort to keep up what’s happening in the world of American librarianship. Last summer, I attended ACRL’s Immersion program in the teacher track, and hope to experience the program track in the next couple of years. In the library, we are also in the process of overhauling the LALT course, and the way information literacy training is provided in general, and I hope these changes can be implemented in the next couple years. Anyone who knew me in graduate school knows that I have a bit of a bossy streak, and I want to allow that to manifest in a positive way by moving into administrative positions – although I could never be happy removed from the public services aspects of librarianship.
Can you share a bit about your experiences living in Cairo?
Cairo is an amazing place. The city is huge and bustling (a nicer word for crowded), and there is much to do whether you want to go horseback riding at the pyramids, catch a performance at the opera house, or just have a beer at an expat bar. Living in a developing country takes getting used to and there are certainly frustrations, mostly related to levels of inefficiency that make Westerners crazy. In general, I love my life here. I’ve met the most wonderful people, from fellow faculty members to journalists to non-profit organization directors. Also, the opportunities for travel are amazing. This semester I’ve been snorkeling in the Red Sea, camping in the Western desert, and hiking through the temples of Luxor. I could not be happier that I chose to embark on this adventure following library school.
Anything else you’d like to say to the UNCG Alumni:
I started grad school with only the vaguest idea of which field of librarianship I wanted to enter. After a year and a half on the job, I am pleased to find that I chose the right route. It’s unlikely that I will remain in instruction for the entirety of my career, but this was the right place for me to start. What I’m trying to say is this: Consider your options and try different things. And don’t be afraid to take a chance and have an adventure if the opportunity presents itself.