Thursday, April 7, 2011

Interview with Lisa Huang

This week we’re talking with Lisa Huang, who is the Health Sciences Reference Librarian at Central Park Campus Library, of the Collin County Community College District in McKinney. Lisa is the liaison to all health science programs, Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Psychology. Her professional interests include health literacy, uses of technology in the classroom, distance learning, medical applications (apps), library outreach, and health promotion. Let’s get to the interview!

What is your educational/professional background?
BA in English and History from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, AR
MLS and MS in Health Studies from TWU (Denton)
I've worked and/or interned at a children's library, academic health sciences center, dual academic/public library, and academic libraries.

When you graduated college/graduate school what were your career goals/have they changed since?
When I graduated from college, I was undecided and burned out so I took a year off and worked. I thought about everything -- law school, business school, Peace Corps, etc.. -- but my positive experience as a student assistant in an academic library turned me towards librarianship. I enjoyed the librarians that I worked with; the things or themes (i.e., digitalization, technological changes, access to information, providing information solutions to users) they were working on resonated with me.

Plus, I've always had a special fondness for libraries. As a first generation immigrant, the concept of going to a place and being able to check out all these books and videos for free was certainly a revelation for me. I think most people take libraries for granted.

What does a typical work day look like for you?
Our community college library serves our students and the county residents (i.e., the public) so a typical work day is hard to define. Just earlier today, I had questions about how to find peer reviewed research articles for a sociology paper to where's the closest Immigration Office and the processing fee for naturalization papers.

I can say that I do staff our Information Desk every day and providing information solutions to faculty (i.e., literature searches) every day as well as answering lots of emails. (Email will be the death of me!!!) Some days it's putting out the little fires, instruction sessions, department meetings, one-on-one meetings, staffing the desk, collection development, etc.. it varies based on the staffing and requests.

Any interesting anecdotes you care to tell?
Hmm... This gave us a chuckle. One of our staff members found a set of handcuffs left behind in the medical journals.

What is your favorite thing about your job?
The A to Z aspect of the questions. I like the fact that I am helping someone accomplish something, whether it’s helping a student find resources for their research paper or finding information for a dental hygiene student on how to communicate with her deaf patient.

How do you think your education prepared you/didn't prepare you for your current career?
My education provided me with a solid foundation for my career; however, I think all those library experiences were extremely beneficial in terms of networking and experience.

What advice do you have for current/graduating library and information science students?
Be flexible. Life's an adventure! Be open to different fields of librarianship and employers. In today's world, it's unlikely that you will be doing the same type/field of work or be at the same position for the rest of your life. In every library that I've worked, I've acquired new skills that I use today.

As a student, get some library experience so you can get your foot in the door and network. If you can't get a library job, consider volunteering to build your resume. You can volunteer for public libraries or digital libraries.

Be informed of library trends and technological changes.

Be sure to thoroughly research the employer before your interview. Find out the role of the library within the institution.

Be active in student and professional organizations. They're extremely resourceful and offer scholarships.

What changes do you foresee for the field of Library and Information Science in the next five to ten years?
1) Major technological changes. What are the roles/implications for apps in libraries? Will academic libraries move to only e-books? How will libraries harness all their electronic resources to their users in various formats?

2) Budget
For those in Texas, we're waiting for the Texas Legislature results so we'll more about our funding. I think most libraries will have to reallocate priorities with scarce resources.

And finally, what are you reading right now (what would an interview be without this question!)?
I'm reading "The Heretic's Daughter" by Kathleen Kent. It's the "Read Across McKinney" book selection. I think it's important to support library events and promote the value of libraries if at all possible. : )

I also enjoy reading the newspaper daily and Esquire. ; )

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