SWIM Graduates: Where are They Now?

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In 2010, four states—South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana (SWIM)—collaborated to provide education scholarships for librarians and library media specialists to work in the region’s rural communities through the SWIM Regional Collaborative Library Education Project. The project was funded through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program. Scholarship recipients received financial support and the opportunity to earn an American Library Association-accredited Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS) or a School Library Media Endorsement. After two years of dedication and hard work, the SWIM cohort graduated in August 2012. Here’s a look at what some of these librarians are doing today. Look for more stories in the next Nexus e-newsletter.

Megan Egbert Megan Egbert – Youth Services Manager, Meridian Public Library at Collister, Meridian --oversees eight youth services staff and all youth services programs, oversees the ordering for the youth services collection, and represents the library in the community for opportunities relevant to 0-18 year olds and parents. She’s in the same position as before receiving her MLIS, and “still loving it.”

When asked if she recommends an MLIS, Egbert says, “It depends on a person's reasons for getting one. I think there are valuable things that can be learned during an MLIS program, but I also think if someone is a curious learner they can gain skills and experience in a variety of formats.”

Long-term, Egbert would like to be a director some day or write children’s books, or possibly both.

 

Sonja HumphriesSonja Humphries - School Librarian/Media Specialist, Jerome High School, Jerome—trains and manages kid clerks/volunteers, acquires materials and equipment that support curriculum, manages budget and library materials, collaborates with teachers and administrators as needed, supports students and staff with computers/digital resources, participates in instructional training and school committees, provides counsel and instruction for advisory students (homeroom) in curricular matters, communicates with parents as needed, and assists students in locating online resources for research.

When asked if she recommends an MLIS, Humphries says, “Absolutely YES! An MLIS is such a marketable degree! There are so many options for employment: music industry, museums, special collection libraries, health facilities, technology/software corporations, toy companies, parks & recreation facilities, government offices, schools, public libraries, universities, and other educational facilities."

Long-term, Humphries is looking at retirement in 10-15 years, but in the meantime, is considering a certificate in Education-Literacy, or Early Childhood Studies, or Teacher Consultant.

 

Thomas Ivie Thomas Ivie – Digital Initiatives Librarian, Wyoming State Library—left his library paraprofessional position of over 15 years at the University of Idaho College of Law Library for a professional librarian position at the Wyoming State Library. In his previous position he worked in serials and government documents. Now he manages the Wyoming Newspaper Project. This includes identifying partnerships with individuals and organizations that have historic Wyoming newspapers, contracting the digitization of newspapers, uploading files, metadata, responding to user questions, and marketing the resource. Other responsibilities include participating in planning to deliver continuing quality services, resources, and projects to library workers statewide.

When asked if he recommends an MLIS, Ivie says, “Whether or not to pursue a Master’s degree is a very personal decision. For myself, it was necessary in order to advance my library career. The decision depends on your career goals. You have to want it and be committed to it. Otherwise, it isn’t worth doing. More than that, though, you have to be aware of and weigh the sacrifices involved in pursuing the degree -like less time with family and friends, the financial cost, and the overall stress of it all. For an older, non-traditional student like myself, it requires a complicated balancing act of life, family, work, and school. For me, it was worth it.”

Long-term, Ivie wants to be a sponge and soak up all the knowledge he can and learn as much as he can from other leaders. He aspires to be one of those leaders someday.

 

Beth Swenson Beth Swenson - Outreach Librarian, Twin Falls Public Library, Twin Falls — was previously a reference librarian. Since earning her MLIS, she became the Outreach Librarian for the Twin Falls Public Library, which is an entirely new position for the library. She handles outreach responsibilities for the library, including partnering with any local agencies, and any presentations at service groups or clubs. Currently, her main duties are involved with the library’s bookmobile, scheduling bookmobile stops, driving the bookmobile a majority of the time, and producing any promotional materials. She has also gotten quite good at writing press releases. Since she is the first one to do this particular job, she had to figure a lot of things out and appreciates her six years of experience as a reference librarian and “incredibly patient” coworkers.

When asked if she recommends an MLIS, Swenson says, “Before I had an MLIS, I didn’t see the point of it. I was doing the exact things that my MLIS coworkers were doing, and it seemed like a lot of work (it was). However, after obtaining one, I wholeheartedly encourage getting it. It will open new doors for me and allow me mobility if I choose to look for a different position. Also, it never hurts to have a little more training in my field of choice."

Long-term, Swenson would ultimately love to work in an archive or do research in archives for PBS or History Channel documentaries. Until then, she is very content in providing services to those who may have a hard time getting to the library.

 

Jessica Tueller Jessica Tueller – Reference Librarian, Twin Falls Public Library, Twin Falls— moved from being the Youth Services Assistant to reference in the adult section of the library, where she does reference, collection development, weeding, programming, supervisory duties, patron assistance, and education.

When asked if she recommends an MLIS, Tueller says, “I would recommend getting a MLIS if someone is interested in library work or the information field.”

Long-term, Tueller would like to continue to learn more about different aspects of the library and the information world in general.

Congratulations to these SWIM graduates for all of their hard work and achievements, and many thanks to them for their dedication to improving library services in Idaho, and now Wyoming.