Diversity Resident finds her niche working with students

In August 2013, the University Libraries appointed Rachel Smith and Mohamed Berray as  resident librarians under a new two-year Diversity Residency Program, designed to help  prepare recent graduates for leadership positions in the field of librarianship. This week, Smith talks about her experience at Penn State.

Smith has an MLIS  from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and a bachelor’s degree in theatre performance from North Carolina Central University. She was an Academic and Cultural Enrichment Scholar from 2011 to 2013 and an ARL Career Enhancement Program Fellow in 2013.

Rachel Smith

Smith restoring old issues of Penn State Froth in Digitization and Preservation. — photo by Ann Passmore

Please talk about some of the initiatives and activities that you have been working on in the past year.
Over the past year, I have worked via rotations in various departments within the Libraries. I have worked in the University Research Hub providing advanced research help for upper-level students and faculty researchers in business and the behavioral and social sciences. I have led two specialized library instruction sessions for courses in the African American Studies department as well as four specialized library instruction sessions for the SAIL program (Student Athletes in Libraries). I have and continue to create video tutorials for databases such as ThomsonONE and Hoover’s Online as well as tutorials for library tools, such as the Research Project Calculator. I have also completed a rotation in Adaptive Technology Services, during which I translated textbooks into accessible formats for blind Penn State students and facilitated library visits from visually impaired Pennsylvania high school students.

What responsibilities are you currently assigned to?
Currently in the department of Digitization and Preservation, I am managing a digitization project for The Penn State Froth , a student-led magazine published from 1910 to 1982 that will soon be loaded and accessible for the public online. I am also heavily involved with library instruction within the department of Library Learning Services, I have taught over 30 sessions this year alone.

What have you learned about yourself during this appointment? Has it changed you, and if so, how?
I have learned so much about myself during this residency. I came to Penn State in August of 2013, only three months after graduating from library school. I knew then that I wanted to pursue academic librarianship, but I had no idea of the particular area in the field I would call my own. I have since realized that I absolutely love interacting with students via instruction and reference assistance. I have also learned that I am much more of a self-starter than I had previously believed myself to be. One of the wonderful things about the Diversity Residency Program is that Mohamed and I have been able to fulfill our rotations based on our own interests. I have never experienced that level of freedom in a professional sense and it has led to self-discovery.

At the completion of your residency in 2015, what will you hope to have accomplished?
At the completion of my residency, I hope I will have accomplished all of the goals and expectations set by my supervisors and administrators, both concrete and abstract. The great thing about being an inaugural resident is that you can blaze your own trail and lead the way for others. I hope that I will have made all of my colleagues proud.