Featured Alumna: Ginny Lewis

Ginny Lewis, UNCG LIS Alumna

Photo courtesy of Ginny Lewis

This month’s featured alumna is Ginny Lewis! Ginny graduated from the UNCG LIS program in May of 2003 and currently works as the Division Manager for Research Services at High Point Public Library. Read on to learn more about Ginny!

  • Had you worked in other areas before entering library school?

I am a registered radiologic technologist  and worked in healthcare for 20+ years prior to  obtaining  my LIS degree at UNCG.

  • What was your first library job?

I worked as an Information Desk assistant at Jackson Library at UNCG while obtaining my graduate degree.  That was a wonderful experience and I thoroughly enjoyed working in an academic library.

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

I absolutely loved working at Jackson Library. I learned so much and enjoyed working with staff,  students and the general public.  I also  enjoyed the amount of access I had to professors. They were generous with their time and expertise in teaching me throughout  my time as a grad student at UNCG.

  • What is your current position and what does it entail?

I am the division manager for Research Services at High Point Public Library in High Point , NC.  I manage five professional staff members and five paraprofessional staff members in my division. I am responsible for collection development  for nonfiction in print and e-content.  I produce and manage line item budgeting for my division, procure electronic database subscriptions for the library, procurement of periodicals for the library’s periodicals collection, oversee management for the library’s public computing center and I also oversee stacks management for both reference and circulating nonfiction collections.

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

I am a member of the library’s leadership team so I  participate in  some of  decision making processes for our library’s initiatives and action plans. I am also involved as a team member in e-content procurement  for our library. I am learning lots of new things pertaining to e-content. I enjoy learning  about new technologies and computer equipment. I am also involved in  a project  that encourages LIS students to volunteer in our library  to gain experience. I volunteered  at Greensboro Public Library for several months after I graduated in 2003.  My volunteerism at the Reference Desk at Central Branch  of GPL  enabled me to obtain my first library position at GPL.  That investment paid off with a professional position at HPPL.  I learned so much, and was mentored by wonderful staff members at GPL through the years.  I participate as a mentor for NCLA as a result.  I love talking to and working with librarians and LIS students.

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

Trends  in mobile smart phone technology, e-content, and cloud computing  are keeping me busy learning  new ways to provide services and resources to the community our library serves. I am having  lots of fun learning   about all these new ways to deliver services and content  to the people we serve in High Point.  I also  have noticed  that we  are using more  technology to do outreach in our community.  We are making connections in the community in order to advocate for our public library as well as  educate the community  about what we can provide.  We are  having an impact on the quality of life for the general public as well as enhancing small  business interests, entrepreneurs, and  non-profit agencies. Connecting with interested stakeholders in our community has opened my eyes  to how valuable public libraries can be.  I am very excited about the changes I have seen in  my profession since I graduated in 2003.

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First Featured Alumna of 2010: Amanda Click

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!

  1. 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.

  1. 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.