If you’ve noticed a fresh face behind the circulation desk of the Library, then the likely suspect is Ms. Lauren Dodd Hall, who was recently hired as Circulation Librarian for the Access Services Division. Lauren comes to USMA from the Maxwell Air Force Base and Muir S. Fairchild Research Information Center in Alabama, where she worked as an Assistant Systems Librarian. While at Maxwell, Lauren was largely responsible for digitizing material like student papers, rare books, and Air Force speeches that made them accessible through the library catalog. She also provided reference services to students and held the title of Assistant Editor of the Air University Library Index to Military Periodicals.
Prior to Maxwell, Lauren worked as a project manager and instructor for an outreach program affiliated with the University of Alabama, offering computer training for persons with intellectual disabilities. She has also worked at the Bevill State Community College Library in Fayette, Alabama, providing circulation and reference services to students and faculty.
Lauren holds a Master of Library and Information Studies from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa (where she received the Florine Oltman Scholarship Award for Excellence in Special Librarianship in 2011), and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Mississippi.
When she is not working at the circulation desk, Lauren will assist Deborah DiSalvo, the Library’s Associate Director of Access Services, with various projects. Other duties at USMA will include working at the reference desk and acting as a liaison to the Department of Physics and Nuclear Engineering.
On behalf of the entire USMA Library staff, we would like to say welcome, Lauren!
Let’s get to know Lauren a little better with some questions!
You’ve just moved here from Alabama. How do you like the Hudson Valley so far?
I love it! I moved to Beacon, which is an awesome little city with a lot going on. Between Hudson Valley and NYC happenings, I will never run out of things to do here. I’m also greatly enjoying the weather so far. Alabama has approximately 8 months of 90-100 degree heat and 100% humidity. Yes, I know I moved here just in time to miss winter–but I’ve lived in Canada before, so I think I can handle it (she says naively).
Why did you choose to become a librarian?
While many people come to librarianship as a second career, it has always been on my radar of career choices. My elementary school librarian was such an inspiration to me that I decided to be a librarian while I was still in elementary school. This made perfect sense to everyone who bumped into me while I was reading a book and walking down the hallway at the same time. Of course, sometimes plans/ideas get derailed, and due to some encouragement from my favorite professor, I thought I wanted to be an English teacher or professor….but while pursuing a master’s degree in English, I realized that not only did I not want to specialize and narrow my interests, but I also enjoyed helping others with research (I was a research assistant) more than writing my own papers. Now I get to have the best of both worlds – since I’m a liaison (to the department of Physics and Nuclear Engineering, who hasn’t met me yet – hi!), I get to help with all kinds of research, and learn things I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Aside from the research aspect of things, I also just really enjoy helping people, so it’s a perfect fit.
Can you describe some of your favorite past projects?
As a library school student, I worked with one of my mentors and fellow graduate assistants on a poster session that we presented at a few different local conferences, and eventually turned into a journal article for Internet Reference Services Quarterly. It’s called “The Web Beyond Google: Innovative Search Tools and Their Implications for Reference Services.” This past fall, we revisited the topic and a few new free search tools for a presentation at the Mississippi State University eResource and Emerging Technologies Summit. I’m also really proud of my involvement with the Hack Library School blog. I was one of the founding writers, and became an editor/mentor for the blog for a time after I graduated from my MLIS program. It’s become a really robust resource for both current and potential library school students, and the posts continue to be incredibly interesting and insightful.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
My husband, Tim, my puppy, Zelda, and I like to go on long walks/hikes around Beacon and Cold Spring, and we’re hoping to visit many NY state parks with our Empire Pass. I’ve run 3 half marathons this year, but I haven’t run much since I moved here. Oops. I enjoy riding a bike when I have one (I currently don’t – I am accepting free bikes). We are always on the lookout for concerts, plays, and food/drink festivals. I also enjoy a great many TV shows (probably too many) – all TV show discussions are welcome and encouraged.