When alum Ann Agee stepped into her new position as the SJSU Library’s liaison to the SJSU School of Information, she completed a circle that began with her internship at the library in 2007.
Agee transitioned in June 2014 into the role previously held by alum Marci Hunsaker. As liaison to the iSchool, Agee helps students and faculty with reference questions and finding materials to help with their research. She also creates online orientation tutorials and LibGuides for both students and faculty.
The liaison role isn’t a new one for Agee, since she served in a similar capacity for the SJSU College of Business. However, the business students she worked with were both graduate and undergraduate students, and she interacted with them in person as well as online. With the iSchool, the students are all graduate students and the programs are fully online.
According to Agee, she provides online reference services to iSchool students, typically via online chats and email. “It’s a lot easier to be misinterpreted or misunderstood when communicating that way, so you have to be more careful, more clear,” Agee said. “It’s a different level of communication.”
Another difference is the amount and areas of research she helps with as the library’s liaison to the iSchool. She’s found there are more opportunities to do research, and the topics are much more diverse in the iSchool than those she encountered with business students.
She continues to serve as liaison to the accounting department, but said her role there isn’t nearly as interactive as it is with the iSchool. “I’m there for them on a collections development basis, not an instructional basis,” she said.
Agee always wanted to be an academic librarian. After earning her Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree from our school in 2008, she went to work right away at the King Library as an adjunct senior assistant librarian. In 2012, she was promoted to senior assistant librarian, a position she continues to hold.
She will also continue working as co-coordinator of SJSU’s Affordable Learning Solutions initiative, which promotes low-cost, high-quality alternatives to expensive textbooks.
“I keep hearing over and over that students aren’t reading the assignments and are not buying the books because they can’t afford them,” Agee said. “Students on average spend $1,754 on textbooks per year, so it’s a big chunk of their college costs. I promote alternatives to faculty, such as asking them if they’ve considered using ebooks from our library or using open online resources.”
As an advocate for affordable textbooks and open online education, Agee has written journal articles and presented at conferences on these topics. Her papers and presentations are available on her website.
A San Francisco Bay Area native, Agee earned a bachelor’s in English, with an emphasis in writing, from the University of California-Davis. After taking time out from the workforce to raise her two children, she later went to work in their schools, starting in the classroom as a paraprofessional. “I transitioned to the school library and I just loved everything about it,” she said. “I decided I wanted to do this, and wanted to do it as a professional, so that’s when I went into the program to get my MLIS.”
In her spare time, Agee enjoys reading, watching movies, hiking and doing “lots of family stuff” with her husband and children. Her oldest child graduated from college in May 2014, and the other will graduate in 2015.
“Be a volunteer, be an intern, and do it again. Get practical experience, anything within a library or the equivalent of library work. And not just for your resume, but for you personally. You might find out, for instance, that you’re interested in digital technologies and don’t really enjoy working the reference desk.”
“In my job as an academic librarian, it’s extremely important to be on the back end of Canvas, the learning management system; to create LibGuides; and know just some low-level HTML to be able to manipulate the different online guides. But most important is just understanding it, seeing how it all fits together.”
American Library Association (ALA); California Library Association (CLA); Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL); California Academic & Research Libraries (CARL); Reference and User Services Association (RUSA)
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