Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Q & A with a Librarian: Jennifer Carlson

Hometown: White Bear Lake, Minnesota
Favorite Book: The Secret Garden

Can you tell us about all of your Concordia experience?
I went to Concordia in Seward, Nebraska, where I got a degree in Education, class of 2000 - that was pretty exciting to be such a noteworthy class. So, I was there for four years and it was awesome.Then I taught for three years at a Lutheran school in rural Crown, Minnesota. Afterwards, I came to Concordia St. Paul because I was going to go into library science and my brother had been a student here and had worked in the library. So through some connections, I had an opportunity for an internship while I was going to library school - I worked mostly in Circulation, but I also helped out at the Reference Desk, and in Tech Services. 

Then I took over as Circulation Supervisor, and I did that for a number of years. I got my library degree sometime in there from St. Kate’s, and I transitioned away from Circulation and became more reference and instruction, which allowed me to meet students and help them with their research, and also meet them in their classes and teach. When the previous curriculum coordinator retired, I took on that responsibility, which was exciting because of my background in education. And now my current job is Reference, Curriculum, and Inter-library Loan.

So when you were teaching, how did you know you wanted to make the switch to librarian?
Teaching was good but it wasn't quite the right fit for me. So I started exploring different careers. It’s funny how God works sometimes - I just happened to be talking to somebody who was friends with somebody who happened to be going to St. Kate’s in library science, and I had never even thought of libraries as a career before. I looked into it and it was like, wow - this sounds perfect! So I decided to become a librarian. You never know where you’re going to find out about your future career path.

Do you play any instruments?
I took piano lessons in my childhood, so I can still kind of plunk out a tune. I play flute - again, I haven’t played much since high school, but I can still play a little bit. But what I am still active in is handbell choir. It's a very unique instrument. When you think of a piano, each key is a note, but with handbells each bell is a different note. You typically have a group of people - although I have seen soloists and they totally blow me away - and each person is responsible for like two notes and their associated sharps and flats. You read the music and when it’s your turn, you play your two notes. You have to follow that music and make sure you’re in tune with everybody else, so there’s a lot of coordination involved. I've done it since seventh grade, so it’s been well over 20 years!

What is your favorite part about working at the Concordia library? What's the oddest thing you've seen during your time here?
I really like being able to interact with a lot of different people, getting to know people and help them find what they’re looking for. I think the oddest thing I ever saw was when I went downstairs and found some students who had created a fort out of blankets and books for their study session in the stacks.

What advice would you give 20 year old Jennifer?
Be ready for things to not happen the way you planned them. Because I had lots of plans and things didn't turn out the way I planned, and that’s okay. And I think that’s the other part - it’s okay if things don’t go the way you planned them.

Is there anything else you want to share about you that I haven’t asked?
I’m a huge Muppet fan. My desk is decorated with lots of Muppet memorabilia. And that’s something I have enjoyed since I was a child. Apparently the first TV show that I would sit down and watch was the Muppet show. 

Anything you want to say about Baby Bob?*
I am super excited to be having a baby in April. Baby Bob is just his code name, after he’s born then everyone will get to find out what his real name is! The first book I want to read to him is the Monster at the end of this Book, but I don’t think he’ll be ready for that one right off the bat, so we’ll probably pick out something like Goodnight Moon, one of the classics.

*UPDATE! Baby Bob was born on April 17 at 10:31 a.m.! His real name is Simeon Russell Carlson and he is adorable. We are so excited to meet him!