04
Mar
13

Interview with Megan Lawson, MLS ’12

Megan Lawson

Megan Lawson

1) Tell us your current position and job duties.

I am the Development Assistant for Duke University Libraries. I am responsible for running the Friends of the Duke University Libraries, an organization of library donors that holds events for students, faculty, alumni, and other Friends. I also assist with the private fundraising for the Libraries, mostly through donor management and coordination for the Director of Development. In my spare time on the job (there isn’t much of it) I am responsible for our department’s budget and daily operations.

 

2) How did studying at NCCU SLIS help you prepare for your current work?

Although I work in a library, my job is not typical “librarian’s” work. It is important for me to understand how libraries function, especially internally, as part of my job involves assisting a non-librarian. I think that the practicums that NCCU offers helped me more than anything, as they placed me in the right circle for this position.

 

3) What was your favorite thing about your time at NCCU SLIS?

My favorite thing about my time spend at NCCU was the study abroad trip to Denmark. Spending two weeks in a foreign country with a group of great people was a really terrific experience. I learned a lot about libraries and other cultures, but I also learned a lot about the rest of the world. Spending time abroad opened my eyes to other possibilities, and I’ve been able to share those experiences and possibilities with my colleagues at Duke.

 

4) What are your career goals?

I love working in libraries, and I’ve discovered I like the administrative side of the job. I knew when I started school that I wasn’t cut out for the reference desk, and I always thought I would become a cataloger. Those plans changed when I began this job, and I really enjoy what I do so far. I don’t have specific career goals at the moment as I’m very new to the world of library development, but I could see myself working in this type of field, perhaps as a development officer or event coordinator for libraries. For now, I love working at Duke and want to stay here for as long as I can

 

5) What advice would you give to students going through library school right now?

Do as much as you can outside of the classroom. When I was in school I took every opportunity I could to work in different library fields–usually for free. I volunteered at the public library (which eventually landed to a job there), and I took two practicums. I know that this isn’t a possibility for all students, but for those who have the time I would encourage you to get as much experience as you can while you’re still in school. Being a student is a great excuse to get in somewhere and learn. After you graduate you need to spend your time finding a job, and it’s so much easier to do that if you already have the experience and the references.

 

6) What advice would you give library students about job hunting?

Don’t waste your time filling out applications for jobs you don’t really want. Experience is everything in our field, so get as much of it as you can before you start your search. If you have to, spend time volunteering in the library you would like to work in so you get to know the staff and the environment. I got my job because of people I met while volunteering and working in my practicums. Also, spend some time on your resume and cover letter. Dozens of people are often applying for the same job, so think about how you can make yours stand out in the smallest way (but not in a bad way–double check grammar and spelling, please!). These materials are the first impression your potential employer will have of you.

 

7) What advice would you give to people considering applying to library school?

I would urge them to actually spend some time working in a library first. I volunteered at my local public library in college and loved it, which led to my decision to attend library school. But so many of my classmates had never worked in a library before, which made me a little nervous and confused. Also, don’t expect to be a traditional “librarian” when you graduate. So many of the more traditional jobs are being handled by paraprofessional workers that true librarians need to be prepared to work in a very specialized field, either with technology or subject matter.

 

8) What are you reading right now?

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, by Victor Hugo

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