Overseas Student Miriam Vriend Prepares to Work as a Librarian in an International School

A 15-hour time difference between Hong Kong and San José is not an obstacle for Miriam Vriend and her quest to earn her MLIS while living overseas.

Vriend picks classes that don’t have mandatory Elluminate attendance, instead listening to recordings at other times and managing her group work through chat sessions and e-mail. She expects to graduate this fall and hopes to work as a librarian in an international school.

Finessing the time zone difference is just one of many juggling acts in Vriend’s life. She’s a mother of three children – ages 15, 13 and 9. She also works full-time as a library assistant for the lower elementary division of her children’s school, which serves 700 students, staff, and parents.

Vriend moved to Hong Kong nine years ago with her husband when he landed a teaching job at an international school. “We were eager for an overseas adventure and wanted a multicultural education for our three children,” she said.

Vriend earned her undergraduate degree in French at Calvin College in Michigan and went on to work as a registered nurse for a decade. She was ready for “a new direction” when she started her MLIS program in 2004. While she’s “gotten a lot out of each class,” she remembers her 240 Tech Tools course with Heather Ebey as the most challenging albeit most valuable.

Hong Kong’s library system, with its 10-story central library, 65 branches, and 10 mobile libraries, has also broadened Vriend’s international library experiences. “People in Hong Kong tend to live in small apartments, so this kind of public space is heavily used,” she said. “Hong Kong is the densest city on the planet, and there’s a bit more structure than in typical American libraries. There are rope lines in front of the circulation desk, the reference desks, and the elevators. Users may check out only 6 items at a time. Security guards are stationed all over the place.”

Vriend and her family have no plans to return to the U.S. anytime soon, other than their annual summer visits to spend time with family. “We’re hooked on being able to travel,” she said.