Member Spotlight: Laura Chance

By Anita R. Dryden

Laura Chance is the Library Specialist for Reserves at Drexel University Libraries. She completed her MSLIS with a concentration in digital libraries at Drexel University in Spring 2014. Laura continues to grow her information technology skills as a member of PhillyDH, a peer network of novices and experts dedicated to the exploration of new ideas, tools, and best practices in the world of digital humanities. She is interested in emerging technologies, content representation, instructional design, and digital library services. Laura hopes to land a position in either instructional design, emerging technologies, or an academic librarian position where she can apply her digital library skills.

Q: Tell us about your current position and what you do on a typical day - or is there such a thing as a typical day?

A typical day for me looks like organized chaos: I meet with faculty and staff to promote reserves services, resolve access and technical issues that arise constantly throughout the day, and I help with daily operations at the circulation desk and on a daily chat reference shift. I'm constantly switching gears, running to meetings, answering the phone, and putting out fires. Thankfully, though, it calms down during the middle of each term, which is when I'm able to work on long term projects, like weeding the collection or revamping our documentation system. Whether it's busy or slow, I'm always on my toes.

Q: How did you decide on the information profession for your career? Was it meticulously planned or a happy accident?

I've been working libraries for seven years now, and I started off as a student worker at the University of Georgia Libraries. I loved my experience there but didn't realize that I would decide to pursue my MSLIS until after I left libraries for a brief period. After working in the private sector, I served as an AmeriCorps member in North Philadelphia. During my time in AmeriCorps I realized that librarians are powerful gatekeepers of information, and I wanted to use my knowledge and experience to help others. That's when I decided it was time to go back to school and commit myself to librarianship.

Q: When/how did you first get involved with NMRT and ALA?

I joined ALA when I first started library school and dove right in to ACRL when I presented a poster at the 2013 conference. It wasn't until I finished my degree this March that I realized the NMRT was an excellent resource for recent graduates. I'm excited to get involved, meet other new professionals, and utilize the wealth resources NMRT/ALA provides new librarians.

Q: What do you do for fun when you're not librarianing?

In my free time I play bass guitar in a band, and I volunteer for Girls Rock Philly, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a safe and accessible space for girls and women to play music.

And I love reading, of course.

Q: Do you have any advice for NMRT members who are current students or recent graduates?

We all know that librarianship isn't a passive profession, sitting behind a desk and waiting for patrons to approach us. The field is growing and changing at a rapid rate. Librarianship changed so quickly during my two years of school, and I've continued to grow my skills since graduation. Pick that sliver of librarianship that you feel passionate about and learn everything about it. Build a website or use WordPress to create a portfolio of your side projects. Meet with other professionals in the field and ask for guidance and feedback. Embody the term "life long learner" and be prepared to adapt and change.

Q: What's your secret passion?

My secret passion is community engagement in a very broad sense. When I was an AmeriCorps member, I learned the importance of creating partnerships within a neighborhood to support community needs. I do while working in academic librarianship, connecting faculty with library resources or other departments to help solve problems or fulfill a need. As a musician, I try and make connections in local music circles to help bands book shows or bring out an audience for touring musicians. Making these ties within a community helps resolve immediate needs but also creates a network for the future that benefits community members long term. I enjoy being a part of that network and facilitating its creation.

You can follow Laura on twitter @digitizedlaura