Allow me to introduce Rebecca McGuire, Visiting Instructional Tech Specialist at Mortenson Center for International Library Programs. A division of the University of Illinois Library, the Mortenson Center, provides leadership and technology guidance to libraries throughout the world. Rebecca shares information about this unique role, her favorite tech blogs, and predictions about the future of libraries. A full transcript of the interview can be found here.
- What is your background?
“After getting a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Affairs, I spent a year teaching ESL students in a middle school. I loved teaching, but wanted to do it in a more informal environment, so I decided to get a Master’s in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois. I also decided to pursue a certificate in Community Informatics, which really opened my eyes to how important access, understanding, and application of technology is to both personal and community development.”
- What were some of your early library jobs and how did they prepare you for your current position?
Rebecca was able to explore and become comfortable with hardware and software, while troubleshooting for the University of Illinois iSchool Tech Help Desk and teaching classes at the Instructional Technology Design Office at the iSchool. “I learned that you don’t necessarily need to be a technology genius or have a Computer Science degree to work with technology in a library setting; you just need to be able to solve problems, find answers, think critically, communicate clearly, and collaborate with people with varying levels of expertise. Also, patience is so important!”
- Tell me about your responsibilities as Visiting Instructional Technology Specialist at Mortenson Center for International Library Programs.
“The Mortenson Center for International Library programs is a small unit within the University of Illinois Library. We’re involved in a variety of projects around the world, and we primarily work with international partners to provide capacity building, professional development programs, and training for librarians from outside of the United States. My main responsibility is working on a grant-funded project developing an interactive and adaptable Library Leadership Training toolkit for librarians around the world [Strengthening Innovative Library Leaders or SILL]. This foundational 2-day training focuses on Leadership Styles, Communication, Innovation, and Planning. It’s meant to be delivered to public or community library workers at any level. The goal is that this training curriculum is easy to administer, translatable, adaptable to local contexts, and freely available online, even in places with low-bandwidth and limited technology access.”
- What does a typical day look like?
“When I’m working abroad, my days usually consist of trainings, where I help to facilitate the program and also video record the training. When I’m in my office at the University of Illinois, I work on editing videos and photos, creating and editing training materials, building the training toolkit website, and collaborating with training partners. I also coordinate other educational programs and events for the Mortenson Center and design promotional materials.”
- Tell me about libraries 10 years from now- what do they look like and what services do they offer?
“Libraries will always be places where the community can access and learn how to utilize free resources, including print and online materials, computers, and additional technology they need. Now, libraries are becoming places to not only access, but also create content with maker spaces, video and audio studios, new technology, and educational workshops. I also appreciate the trend of libraries serving as community and student collaborative spaces, where all community members are able to work together on projects that are important to them. I also think libraries will continue to leave their physical buildings and grow to meet their community, throughout city busses, parks, community centers, and beyond.”
- What was the best advice you received while in school or early in your career?
“Someone gave me the advice to check out current job postings that interested me, then tailor my classes and volunteer experiences to match with the required skills for the jobs I wanted. This really helped me to narrow my focus and ensure that I was learning everything I needed to for a library career that I wanted.”
- How do you stay current on new technology?
“I get to help out in the Media Commons of the University of Illinois Undergraduate Library every week, which includes a video studio, audio booth, and multimedia workstations. They always have new emerging technology in the office that they’re testing, so I get to try new technology that can be applied to library settings, like VR. I also love using Lynda.com if I want to explore a program that’s new to me more in depth. In addition, I try to stay current on instructional technology trends by reading blogs and websites such as:
- Share technology that you can’t live or couldn’t do your job without.
“WordPress (for our training toolkit website), my Lumix GH4 and Lumix LX100 cameras and various audio recorders to capture trainings, and Canva.com to create polished promotional materials for the Mortenson Center. I also use the Adobe Creative Suite often, especially PremierePro, Lightroom and Illustrator. Also Facebook, because it’s a great way to communicate and stay in touch with librarians I’ve worked with around the world.”
I’m excited to announce that the next interview will be with Ken Varnum, new editor of Information Technology and Libraries (ITAL). Ken will be a speaker at the 2017 LITA Forum in Denver, and has kindly agreed to meet with me to discuss his vision for the future of ITAL, his favorite library technologies, and his early career ambitions in U.S./Soviet relations.