We recently caught up with Emily Rimland to learn more about her role as the information literacy librarian for the Penn State University Libraries. Here’s our conversation:
Please give our readers a sense of your background and educational interests.
I am a native Pennsylvanian, and a Penn Stater, like my whole family — from grandparents to cousins to husband! Interesting tidbit: My grandfather was drafted into World II while he was a student at Penn State. He was able to get college credit for his experiences in the Army by discussing it with a review board when he returned. (Today, we call that Prior Learning Assessment!).
I studied German Studies while I was at Penn State for my undergraduate degree, and I have an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh. I’ve been at Penn State for 11 years, and I am an Information Literacy Librarian and the Learning Technologies Coordinator at University Park, where I enjoy providing instruction, reference, and outreach services to undergraduate students.
What first interested you in the field of library science? Also, what interested you in the field of information literacy?
I’ve always loved working with people and had an affinity for technology as well, plus I love to learn! All three of these things combined for me into a career in librarianship, after I volunteered at libraries and realized it was the intersection of all my passions! Information literacy is one of the disciplinary communities within librarianship (other examples might be collection development or digital humanities), and I saw it as a place to make an impact, work with students, and leverage technology all at the same time!
What topics do you find that students research the most in your field?
The topic of fake news has been making headlines lately and that clearly intersects with information literacy. Outside of that, I would say that I field questions regularly about the profession of librarianship and what it’s like as a career from students who are curious about it.
What would you like our Penn State World Campus students to know about library resources that are available to them?
Our resources and people are simply stellar. As a library, we are consistently ranked in the top 10 in North America. Please don’t ever pay an external resource for information you need. We likely have it, and if we don’t, we can probably borrow it from another library. Can’t find it? Just ask!
Can you tell me about a time when you’ve helped a Penn State World Campus student access library information?
I actually remember the first time I helped a World Campus student. It was about 11 to 12 years ago and I got a call from a student at the reference desk. I can’t remember her specific question, but she was very frustrated trying to find something. What I remember is that she was incredibly grateful to talk to a “live” person on the phone and get some help. She said that as a distance student, those types of interactions were incredibly helpful. At that point, I was a newly minted librarian and I was just very struck by her situation and how grateful she was.
Do you remember your first library book or library visit?
Wow! What a question! I remember my library in elementary school most vividly. My favorite book (not sure if it was my first) was called the Sugar Mouse Cake. The librarian’s name was Mrs. Wilkinson. Very lasting memories to be sure!
What is at the top of your reading list right now?
I’m reading Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay right now. I just saw her speak and she is as fabulous in person as with her writing. I just finished The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I’m generally a few years behind reading best sellers, but in this case it paid off because HBO is releasing a movie based on the book in April 2017 starring Oprah. The book is a must-read in my opinion. Also, there’s a tiny Penn State connection in it.
What’s your favorite thing about being a Penn Stater?
Honestly, it’s about the connections for me. How you can go literally anywhere and meet other Penn Staters and you have this instant connection with them. I love that!
What is the best way for our students to reach to you if they need help with a library topic?
Our Ask A Librarian service is the fastest way to get help. It’s staffed many hours throughout the day and very convenient. To contact me directly, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.