|At the British Museum with USM School of Library and Information Science|
Libraries have always been part of my life. I have sweet memories of the public library in my childhood hometown, and remember endless hours spent in libraries during my college career. Later in life, libraries were my safe space when I needed somewhere to reflect, to plan, and to heal.
I began tutoring at the University of Mississippi and discovered that helping students succeed through research was a passion of mine. So, I enrolled in the University of Southern Mississippi’s online graduate program in Library and Information Science. The faculty and my peers made me feel included and shared my interests and bookish humor. I worked through graduate school at the Oxford (MS) Public Library and there, I saw the people I had been. People applying to college, looking for jobs, or just a place to be safe and warm. Kids checking out their favorite books over and over.
Upon graduating with a Master’s of Library and Information Science, I was ready to transition into an academic library where I could pursue my goal of supporting students through research. I had lived in Chattanooga previously, having graduated first from Chattanooga State with an associate’s degree, and then from UTC with two bachelor’s degrees in literature and humanities. Now with my master’s, I hoped to return. I was deeply grateful to be hired here at Chattanooga State, and excited to come home to a city I love.
Libraries kept me going when I was directionless, and I want to connect students to the same opportunities I found there. I want them to feel welcome and supported in their library, and to find joy in research. A familiar quote by journalist Allen Saunders (later made popular by John Lennon) reads, “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” When life happened to me, libraries gave me a place to belong and to start over. Everyone should have that; it’s what libraries are for.