The New Jersey Chapter of the Special Libraries Association is pleased to announce the winner of the 2010 Frank H. Spaulding Student Scholarship. The scholarship recipient is Margaret Rose O’Keefe, a Master of Library Science student at Clarion University of Pennsylvania and a resident of Riverdale, New Jersey. Margaret has worked in multiple libraries since she was a teen and is now studying via Clarion’s online program to help her build a career doing what she loves.
The scholarship provides $500 for the winner to pursue her studies, and student membership in SLA for one year. She was recommended by Matthew R. Marsteller, Adjunct Professor, Department of Library Science at Clarion University. Professor Marsteller taught Margaret in the Introduction to the Information Professions course. He wrote: “Margaret brings an intriguing background to the study of our profession that I believe is a wonderful match for special librarianship. Her undergraduate background in Applied Mathematics and her technological savvy will allow her to perform well in a special library setting.”
NJSLA’s 2010 Scholarship Committee members were: Johanna Bizub, Beth Kaminski, Ann Kelsey, Leslie A. Norman, and Eric C. Schwarz (chair).
Margaret’s biography and her winning essay entry follow. This information is also linked from the NJSLA Scholarship page.
Biography: Margaret Rose O’Keefe was born and raised in New Jersey, and visited libraries regularly her whole life. On one such library excursion with her grandmother, when she was 16, she saw a job advertisement for a library page at the Wyckoff Public Library and applied on the spot. She has been working in libraries ever since, taking on increasing responsibilities, including circulation duties, assisting with summer reading programs, and even providing children’s reference for the Mahwah Public Library on Sundays. During this time she realized she could turn her love for libraries into a career.
After receiving her B.A. in Mathematics, she applied to Clarion University’s online master’s program in Library Science and was accepted. Since then she has received Middletown Public Library’s Conover-Wihtol Scholarship and NJLA’s Bernard and Beatrice Schein Scholarship. She is currently working part time at the Riverdale Public Library, where she handles circulation duties, facilitates the monthly book discussion group, schedules programs and provides publicity as needed, oversees interlibrary loan, represents the library at statewide JerseyCat meetings, prepares monthly statistics, assists with technical services, provides quality control for the library collection, and maintains monthly displays.
In addition, she works at the Roxbury Public Library providing youth services reference assistance on Sundays. Much of her coursework has centered on youth services, and after graduating, she hopes to focus on library service to teens.
(Essay question: “How will you position yourself for career growth, and how will SLA membership help you achieve it?”)
After working in libraries for a few years and enjoying it more with each new skill that I learned, I realized that a career in libraries was the perfect choice for me. To achieve this, I knew I had to obtain my master’s degree in library science, and since I had several years of experience in libraries as well, I considered that to be a bonus. After graduating, I thought, I would be fully equipped for my career as a librarian. However, I have begun to discover that a degree, along with some experience, is not necessarily the full extent of what is needed to excel as a librarian.
Although experience and education are both extremely valuable, they are even more valuable when they are expanded upon even after the necessary degree has been obtained and a satisfactory position in libraries has been secured. There are so many aspects of librarianship to learn, but even a library science degree will not encompass them all. As a librarian, I intend to continue learning any and all aspects of librarianship that I am less familiar with. In addition, I will take advantage of any opportunities to obtain experience in any skills that I currently lack, especially those skills that will help me to assist others more effectively.
I believe a librarian should either have the answer or know where to find the answer when presented with a question. The only way to accomplish this and to grow in this career is through learning, and learning from others can sometimes be the most beneficial way to do so. Even if librarians have to call upon on one another for assistance from time to time, if those we are assisting are satisfied, then we have done our job right. We can learn from one another and help one another to become better librarians. Networking and learning in order to further career growth can sometimes be accomplished best by being part of an organization whose purpose aligns with our own.
The Special Libraries Association is one such organization that provides networking and learning opportunities to its members. I have experienced some of these benefits already by being a member of NJLA and ALA, and I would welcome the opportunity to experience what SLA has to offer as well. Connecting with others in the profession and having the opportunity to draw upon their knowledge and experience is an invaluable privilege. I have appreciated the workshops and conferences I attended to continue my library education, which I might not have been able to attend if I was not a member of these organizations. I look forward to learning even more from what SLA has to offer, as well as connecting with librarians in yet another circle of librarianship. I value this opportunity highly and sincerely hope to be considered for this award. It is my opinion that a librarian is never finished learning.