Alumna Sam Leif Takes on Many Different Roles in New Job as Solo Librarian

Just two months after earning her MLIS degree, alumna Sam Leif started work as the Learning Resource Center Specialist and solo librarian at the International Academy of Design and Technology Library in Las Vegas, Nevada. She is relying on the knowledge she gained in the MLIS program in her new position, which involves collection development, reference services, and library management.

Leif is responsible for providing all the programs and services of an academic library. The International Academy of Design and Technology (IADT) in Las Vegas offers eight bachelor degree programs and six associate degree programs to its 675 students, and Leif is ready to serve the diverse information needs of the entire campus community.

“This is my first professional librarian job, and I love that I get to put into practice everything I learned at SLIS,” Leif said, who started work in February 2012. “I catalog, I manage the budget, and I provide reference services and information literacy instruction. Since we’re a small college, I also have the opportunity to really get to know my students and to develop strong relationships with them.”

Leif began her job search while she was still a graduate student, taking advantage of the SJSU SLIS Career Development resources and online tools. “I contacted Jill Klees, the SLIS Career Center Liaison, for advice on resumes and job interviews,” Leif said. “She also offered great tips on how to create business cards and network at professional conferences.”

Leif worked hard to develop professional skills and connections as she progressed through the MLIS program. She completed an internship at the University of Nevada Las Vegas Lied Library, where she worked in the Reference and Information Services department. During her internship she sought out opportunities to help staff librarians with their research, and she co-authored an article on using Twitter in academic libraries, which was recently published in Reference Services Review.

Leif transitioned to the library and information science field from a career in social work and counseling. “Like social work and counseling, librarianship is a helping profession,” explained Leif, who worked as a student library employee while earning her undergraduate degrees. “I enjoy helping people find solutions to problems, as well as being able to continually learn in my job.”

Leif enrolled at SJSU SLIS in Fall 2009 and took courses in reference services and information instruction. She also signed up for collection management (LIBR 266), which turned out to be the most useful class for her current work. “I’m using knowledge from that class every day,” she said. “One of the first things I did was create a collection development policy for the library, which I learned to do in class. I evaluate titles, prioritize faculty requests, and select all our materials.”

Leif recommends that students and job seekers connect with classmates, instructors, and other colleagues on social media sites to stay in touch, exchange ideas and information, and build professional networks. She also emphasizes the value of attending professional conferences, and she’s looking forward to participating in the American Library Association’s annual meeting in June 2012.