“The University of North Texas MLIS program offers exactly the sort of innovative, flexible, supportive, and engaging learning opportunities I was seeking when I decided to seek a second master’s degree,” Paul Signorelli (class of 2009) recalls. “As someone completely immersed in libraries, training-teaching-learning, and creative ventures, I was impressed, from the beginning of our exchanges, with the approach UNT faculty and staff take to the entire field of teaching-training-learning. My highly-responsive and very supportive adviser took the time to explore my fairly well-defined learning goals, guided me in choosing the best mix of courses available to meet those goals, and helped me customize my UNT experience in a way that included three very focused semester-long independent-study projects—two of which were eventually edited into articles published by American Libraries. Faculty advisers for those independent-study courses offered a level of support I would not have otherwise had at that point, and faculty in other more traditionally structured courses were equally supportive of my efforts to connect coursework to professional opportunities. In fact, one of my final courses—introducing new technology into libraries and other large organizations—helped me land a training contract as part of a team showing hospice workers how to do medical record-keeping with mobile devices!”
Paul arrived at UNT with considerable experience as a writer-trainer-consultant for libraries and other organizations. He had written for a variety of newspapers and magazines, worked as Director of Volunteer Services and Staff Training for the San Francisco Public Library, and was well on his way to building a consulting practice to serve libraries and other learning organizations. After graduating, he co-authored Workplace Learning & Leadership: A Handbook for Library and Nonprofit Trainers (ALA Editions, 2011) with Lori Reed and has continued to contribute to books, print and online publications, and blogs. He sees the MLIS degree as something with far-reaching uses beyond the traditional onsite library positions associated with the word “librarian”: He explores, fosters, and documents innovations in learning and educational technology; designs and facilitates onsite and online learning opportunities for ALA Editions, PCI Webinars, and several other clients; and helps others become familiar with online learning, social media, MOOCs (massive open online courses), mobile technology, innovations in learning spaces, and community partnerships (onsite and online) to creatively facilitate positive change within organizations.
Believing that librarianship is tremendously grounded in fostering community partnerships and collaborations, he has served on advisory boards/expert panels for the New Media Consortium Horizon Project documenting global educational technology trends and challenges since 2010; remains active locally and nationally in the Association for Talent Development (formerly the American Society for Training & Development); and facilitates conversations on a variety of training-teaching-learning endeavors onsite in conferences and online through a variety of learning sessions including asynchronous courses. His most recent work remains focused on connected learning, connectivist MOOCs (massive open online courses), and building sustainable onsite and online communities and partnerships. He blogs at http://buildingcreativebridges.wordpress.com and can be reached at email@example.com.
“I never cease to be amazed at how strong those UNT connections continue to be for me: I’ve been invited to lead a plenary session for a knowledge-management and information-professional conference cosponsored by the College of Information, had fellow alums in online courses I’ve facilitated and projects I’ve managed, and learn from the work other alums are producing in a variety of settings. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Angie Ramirez, 2008 Graduate
Angie Ramirez entered the "world of Librarianship" as a Library Assistant at the Fort Worth Public Library in December 2005. Angie said, “ I realized I could make a career of Information Science, so I enrolled in the LIS program in Fall 2007 and graduated in May 2008”. Her ambition was to create databases but life happens and she became a mother for the first time while enrolled in the LIS MS program, so rather than continuing a little longer to pursue the necessary courses for a career in database development, she chose the general librarianship program which was a couple of semesters shorter. Angie states “although thus far I have experienced success as a Librarian, I do recommend that anyone interested in technology should invest their time and go the longer mile”.
Currently, she is a school Librarian in a small private school in El Paso, TX, Lydia Patterson Institute. Her current role is new and exciting because the library collection has never been automated in an integrated library system. She is in the process of purchasing a library management system and will soon have the "privilege" of processing and cataloging the collection. “ I am very happy with this experience as I would have otherwise never had this experience. I've been told by former colleagues of the experiences they went through in the late 1980s/early 1990s regarding the automation of the card catalog. I like to joke with our students that in their classrooms they are in the year 2014, but they time travel when they walk in the library to the 1970s because most of the items in the collection are from the 1960s and 1970s with of course a full functioning printed card catalog in the wonderful yellow-wood drawer cabinets”, states Angie.
Her past employment experiences include working as a Librarian with the Fort Worth Public Library and also at the J.Ardis Bell Northeast campus library with Tarrant County College District. Angie has enjoyed both experiences and the colleagues have been amazing people. “I am grateful for the experiences and knowledge from both places of employment. I look forward to experiencing different librarianship roles, but for now my first time in a school library is proving to be fun, exciting, and interesting as I get to where many different hats. There are traditional librarianship responsibilities but also there are many opportunities for instruction and collaboration with faculty and students. Plus it forces me to stay in the know with what's going-on in technology, teen trends, and education” says Angie.
Roosevelt Weeks, 2014 Graduate
“The road to becoming a librarian was non-conventional for me”, says Mr. Weeks. He had visited a public library only once or twice while growing up in his Mississippi home town. It was not a place where he saw opportunity for employment or a glamourous place for an African- American male. Roosevelt was a star athlete in High School and earned an athletic scholarship to college. "I was a “jock” that loved computers and working in a library was not part of my plans. I got my degree in Computer Science and worked in corporate America for 20 years and liked what I did”, said Roosevelt. He found his love and passion for libraries when he volunteered for the Pasadena (TX) Public Library (PPL). A good family friend was the director, Shelia Ross Henderson and she allowed him to teach computer classes in the computer lab. “Teaching those classes and helping people get better jobs was an awesome experience. I was hooked,” says Roosevelt.
He left his job in corporate America and was hired by Ms. Henderson for a third of what he was making at his previous job. It was a struggle financially, but he loved what he was doing…helping people and making a difference in the community. After working for 2 years at PPL, he joined the Houston Public Library (HPL) as the Chief Technology Officer. Mr. Weeks progressed in his career in HPL to become the Deputy Director for the library. He was happy in his role and accomplishments in the library industry, but something was missing. “I found out what that was when 2 young ladies came to HPL to talk about the library program at the University of North Texas (UNT). Dr. Ana Cleveland and Dr. Yvonne Chandler talked about UNT online Master’s program and the importance of having library credentials” said Roosevelt. On August 8, 2014, he got that “something” that was missing…his degree in library science! “The Masters program at UNT was delightful and I learned a lot from the faculty, staff, and students at UNT. With my degree in hand, I am on my way to serving more people in a bigger and better way,” says Roosevelt.
Tammy Westergard, 2014 Graduate
Tammy Westergard is the Deputy Director of the Carson City Library. She graduated Summer 2014 with a Master of Science in Library Science in Denton and was initiated into Beta Phi Mu, the International Honor Society of Library and Information Professionals. Tammy started online at the University of North Texas College of Information about a year after a transfer from a position as the Deputy Manager of the Carson City (Nevada) Office of Business Development, to the Deputy Director position at the Carson City Library. It was August of 2011 when she started the program. Before starting at UNT it had been 24 years since she had been responsible for an academic syllabus, and a blackboard required chalk. The only thing "on line" at that time in her life was a load of towels when they needed to smell especially breezy.
As the Deputy Manager of Carson City's Office of Business Development she gained tremendous insight from local employers about workforce training and the need to align learning partnerships to keep the community's few high-tech manufacturers, who provide good paying jobs, and to have any hope to attract more and build the community's primary job base. But to attract this sector the workforce must have the right stuff. Folks need marketable skills, particularly those skills relating to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (S.T.E.M). How to make that happen is no easy task. Fortunately at that time UNT doctoral student and then Carson City Library Director, Sara Jones, was blazing a trail to leverage technology and anytime anywhere learning with public library services, as a radical solution to workforce development. Sara could see the obvious value of the public library as the ultimate learning center. She has since become the Director of Libraries for Marin County, California but hers was the first voice that encouraged Tammy to consider the UNT College of Information Library Science program. Sara knew distance learning would provide a robust immersion into the virtual world, sharpening her own S.T.E.M. skills. “I could not have imagined the ways I would be personally "redeveloped" by joining Sara's team and through the UNT program, its faculty, staff and my stellar and unwavering advisor, Dr. Yvonne Chandler”, says Tammy.
She took to heart lessons from the degree program, which included a Graduate Academic Certificate in Advanced Management. In fact, from July through December of 2013 Tammy led the development of the Carson City Library's current strategic plan titled "Level UP: a strategic plan for learning 2014-2019." Focus of the plan emphasizes the public library as the community's premier resource for free workforce training and it sharply focuses K-12 technology partnerships to improve digital competences throughout the student community, especially with the teens. The Library is working directly with the Nevada Governor's Office of Economic Development wherein the public library is the first point of entry in a S.T.E.M skills learning continuum that includes the school district and community college. More about the library's strategic plan is available at www.carsoncitylibrary.org.
“My future is bright, for sure. Libraries matter and I'm well prepared to do this good work. I chalk it up to life-long learning and UNT Department of Library and Information Sciences”, says Tammy.