Position Title: Reference Librarian & Community Garden Coordinator
Employer: Westbank Community Library
Degree/Year: MSIS 2008
Alex Hershey Meyers
“The iSchool fosters all the components you need to create whatever path you want: classroom learning, internships, opportunities to work closely with faculty members, the enthusiasm and drive of one's fellow students - all in (in my humble opinion) one of the world's best cities.”
Alex Hershey Meyers graduated from the iSchool in December of 2008, and currently works as a part-time reference librarian at Westbank Community Library, just outside of Austin. She spends her hours on the front lines, "offering tons of readers advisory for all ages and interests, helping members with technology, assisting with school projects, consumer research, job searching, language-learning resources, or just about everything under the sun," she explains.
In addition to direct member assistance, she keeps the library's print and online bibliographies up to date and helps out wherever needed, from collection management to storytime programs. With the advent of the e-book revolution, she is also working with the rest of the library to become fluent in all the various devices, formats, and material available.
Before moving from the Bay Area to Austin, Alex worked in publishing, and though she enjoyed it, she had always felt the pull towards a career that was more service-based, where she could truly help people every day. The dramatic image transformation that libraries have been undergoing - from silent, intimidating places to vibrant, progressive, techno-forward community hubs -- encouraged her to consider librarianship. It was a natural next step after previous stints in teaching, writing, and editing, plus lots of working with the public, she says.
At the iSchool, Alex was able to get a lot of practical experience working in the field. She got involved with the iSchool/UT Libraries Mentoring Program, and soon after landed a position as one of the Ask a Librarian Reference Interns at the Perry-Castaneda Library. "It was a fantastic opportunity to gain experience providing academic reference in person, over the phone, and via email and IM," she explains. Alex also interned at the Faulk Central Library downtown, part of the Austin Public Library system, which helped deepen her skill and comfort level working with diverse patrons. Then came an internship at the Lower Colorado River Authority's Record Center, where she got hands-on experience with a digitization project. She also worked as a Junior Fellow at the Library of Congress, helping sort through un-cataloged Russian material. Finally, Alex was Dr. Loriene Roy's assistant during her year-long tenure as the President of the American Library Association.
"The MSIS degree can take you down many paths" Alex says. "The iSchool fosters all the components you need to create whatever path you want: classroom learning, internships, opportunities to work closely with faculty members, the enthusiasm and drive of one's fellow students - all in (in my humble opinion) one of the world's best cities."