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On Tuesday, February 7th, SLIS almuni James L. Mullins, Ph.D., Purdue University, Dean of Libraries and Sara S. Lowman, Ph.D., Rice University, Vice Provost and University Librarian, paid a visit to SLIS students in an informal Q&A session over lunch. Mullins shared stories about his career at various universities from Villanova to MIT. Lowman, who has spent her entire professional career at Rice University, observed, "It is not ideal to go to one school and stay there … but you can still make a career path in one place."
Both alumni stressed how rapidly the field of librarianship is changing. "This is the most exciting time to be a librarian," according to Mullins. The role of librarian has been expanding beyond cataloging books to managing employees, over-seeing the making of commercials to promote library resources, implementing and carrying out research about library patrons and library use, statistical analysis and much, much more. Lowman emphasized the importance of obtaining a diverse set of skills to make yourself marketable. "Find a niche with your skills to help sell yourself." She mentioned qualifications such as an emphasis or minor in journalism or marketing, experience with community out-reach, and familiarity with making and posting YouTube videos as skills that can help increase a candidate's desirability.
With regard to schooling Mullins urged to take a statistics course, pointing out that librarians must frequently provide a rationale for services to their superiors. In academia, these are often scientists and engineers, who are data-driven professionalss.. The better you can present and interpret compelling data, the better your case will be made. He also noted that a firm grasp on statistics will help students better understand LIS literature written by academics in the discipline. Being able to understand the scholarly literature positions the librarian to critique it rather than accepting it unquestioningly.