By Amber Spratlin
Michelle Jones, Head of Reference Services and Professor of Library Science at Columbus State University’s Simon Schwob Memorial Library, took some time to talk about her library journey from part-time Reference Librarian, to Professor of Library Science after a promotion earlier this year.
Jones began working at CSU in Reference and Interlibrary Loan. After being made the full-time ILL Librarian, she stayed in that position for 14 years while serving as the Education Liaison Librarian. Two years ago, Jones became the Head of Reference Services. Jones details a career marked by three key focuses: Teaching, Service, and Professional Development.
Jones has taught credit-bearing information literacy courses in multiple formats (face-to-face, hybrid and 100% online) and began at an Instructor rank. Additionally, she has sought ways to influence the learning experience of students in the Education department by creating detailed LibGuides, as well as online tutorials for bibliographic instruction.
Embedded librarianship within the Education department has played a role in her success as the Education liaison: “Over the last couple of years, I have been able to serve as an embedded librarian in several sections of a course. This has encompassed posting my LibGuide links and my contact information. This way students can more readily contact me with research questions.” Students learning at the Doctoral level are required by their faculty to meet with Jones in the introductory portion of their program, fostering meaningful relationships between the students and library. Additionally, she has become an integral part of the accreditation process for the Education program.
Service has also played a large role in Jones’ career path, as she’s served as Chair of two search committees for the Dean of Libraries, and also serves currently as secretary for CSU’s Inclusion and Diversity Committee. She has also served in multiple capacities on GLA committees.
Jones presented at numerous conferences on topics ranging from ILLiad Best Practices to Face-to-Face Teaching Engagement, and she has also had articles based on her personal interests published in Women and Language and Women’s Studies.
When asked what advice she would give to early-career librarians, Jones emphasized the importance of seeking opportunities to get involved: “Definitely get involved with local library organizations/associations. Within reason, accept opportunities to collaborate with colleagues at your institution and within the state in your primary field of work and/or your interest. Teaching, service, and professional development are all important. Begin by seeking webinars and conferences to attend. Once you feel more comfortable, being a co-presenter helps you attain more experience. Also, lightning talks and half sessions give you opportunities to get your ideas and thoughts fine tuned before leading full sessions. As far as writing is concerned, consider blog posts and book reviews initially. You can later move to full length articles. Service at your institution is one of the easiest ways to learn and build relationships with the teaching faculty. My suggestion is to start with about two university committees. Eventually you will seek officer positions on some of these same committees. Once people become familiar with your work, they will come to you with opportunities. Also, seek some type of community service external to the university. You always want to have more than enough evidence in all of the categories for which you will be reviewed. It is also important to use your preferred system of tracking all your activities yearly for your evaluations/portfolio.”
Definitely get involved with local library organizations and associations. Within reason accept opportunities to collaborate with colleagues at your institution and within the state in your primary field of work and/or your interest. Teaching, service and professional development are all important.”Michelle Jones, Professor of Library Science
Jones states that GLA has been integral in her professional development: “GLA has played a very instrumental part of my professional development. I have tried to present at as many Georgia Library Conferences (formerly COMO) as possible. It is such a unique opportunity to share relevant information with your counterparts across the state. GLA is also where I first met interlibrary loan and reference colleagues. It is a very welcoming environment. There were multiple opportunities to serve on various committees and develop leadership skills.”
Congratulations, Professor Michelle Jones, on your well-deserved accomplishment!