Experienced Library Leader Katie DuPraw Earns her MLIS Degree Without Going Back to the Basics

Even with 17 years of library experience and several high-responsibility management positions under her belt, Katie DuPraw still sometimes felt at a disadvantage when applying for jobs because she didn’t have an MLIS. “Almost every posting requires an MLIS from an ALA-accredited school,” DuPraw said. So in 2007 she decided to do something about it and enrolled in the Executive MLIS program. She expects to complete her degree in May 2009.

DuPraw calls herself “an accidental librarian” who intended on pursuing a career as a technical writer or software trainer. While earning her undergraduate degree in Information Technology Management and Technical Communications at Oregon Institute of Technology, she worked in the school’s library and quickly realized that her technical skills were a natural fit with the library environment. At the time, many libraries were just starting to experiment with online technologies.

After graduation, DuPraw worked as a software trainer for the State of Oregon before moving to California and taking a position as Public and Technical Services Manager at Menlo College’s Bowman Library. Later, she worked as a Circulation Supervisor at Santa Clara County’s Cupertino Library, and then served as Project Manager for the County’s automated materials handling system.

Today, she works as Access Services Manager for the San Jose Public Library, which has 23 branches and more than 14 million materials in circulation. She oversees circulation policies and procedures for the library system and continues to explore ways technology can help patrons and staff.

“Automation and technology enhance library services,” she said. “They open so many doors for library users to be able to do things for themselves, and free up staff to focus on customer service.”

DuPraw decided to enroll in the Executive MLIS program because she already had significant library management experience and “wanted to keep moving up” without having to re-learn rudimentary library skills.

She has particularly enjoyed Dr. Christie Koontz’s course on marketing library and information services. It sparked Dupraw’s interest in developing library programs from the perspective of the consumer.

The Executive MLIS program has even influenced Dupraw’s recreational reading habits. The longtime enthusiast of authors Rosamund Pilcher and Maeve Binchy, DuPraw now gravitates toward leadership tomes. Among her favorites: “Decent People, Decent Company: How to Lead with Character at Work and in Life” by Bob and Lyn Turknett and “Launching a Leadership Revolution” by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward.